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Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in Oregon Politics: Portland City Council, Knute Bueler, Recalls

Friday, July 17, 2015


Every Friday, GoLocalPDX breaks down who's rising and who's falling in the world of Oregon politics. Check out who made the lists this week.


Multnomah County Commission-District  4

The benefit for those wanting to serve on the Multnomah County Commission is that they know when the position they want is going to open up. They don't need to wait for the current office holder to decide to give up the seat. Electeds work very hard to get where they are and they don't like to walk away without a very good reason. Unfortunately for the Multnomah County Commissioners, they only get to stay for 2 terms due to term limits. One of the Commissioners ceding their post in 2016 is Diane McKeel. Only one person has officially filed to replace McKeel and that is current Gresham City Councilwoman, Lori Stegmann, however, rumor has it she has been telling people for over a year that she intended to run for that seat. She is going to have a tough fight on her hands because Amanda Schroeder, current  President of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 2157 has been telling people she is running too. And she will have union money to play with. This race could get expensive. 

Oregon House District 47

House District 47 is home to the only Footgolf course in Portland (It is amazing what you learn when you study up on State Legislative Districts (Yes, I realize I have way too much time on my hands.)). HD 47 is also the home to Representative Jessica Vega-Pederson. Rep. Vega-Pederson has only been in office for four years and she has been pretty effective. But she wants more. She wants to be county commissioner. Lucky for her, Commissioner Judy Shiprack has to vacate her seat due to term limits. When Rep. Vega-Pederson announced this week that she was giving up her legislative seat to run for the county, names started swirling as to who would run to replace her. The early names are Thuy Tran who barely lost 4 years ago to Vega-Pederson, current Reynolds School Board member Diego Hernandez and current Executive Director of XRAY.FM and former HD 47 Representative Jefferson Smith. As there is no clear front runner, this might be the most competitive House race of the election cycle.  

Portland City Council-Position 4

Commissioner Steve Novick's campaign for re-election got a little easier this week when college professor Nick Caleb announced he was dropping out of the race for personal reasons. Now Commissioner Novick only has to worry about local realtor Fred Stewart who filed to run for Novick's seat last Friday. Mr. Stewart has an uphill battle ahead of him going against a fairly popular incumbent. Nevertheless, if Mr. Stewart is as honest on the campaign trail as he is in person and on social media, this is going to be a very entertaining race.


Knute Bueler

State Representative Knute Bueler has done a lot of good this legislative session. He worked to allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense birth control and he advocated on behalf of terminally ill patients, veterans and gays. But now he says he wants to challenge Governor Brown in the next election. Does he honestly believe he can beat a Democrat in a state-wide race. An incumbent Democrat at that. Knute, listen to me. You have done so much positive work in only your first legislative session. Your efforts have allowed you to position yourself as a moderate Republican, but as long as you have that 'R' next to your name, it doesn't matter how moderate you are. If you truly want to hold state-wide office you need to pull a Ben Westlund. Bed Westlund was a very popular elected official from Bend (Just like you, Knute!) He wanted something bigger too. He was elected to state treasurer in 2008. He was a Republican up until 2006. Coincidence? Not so much. It's easy, Knute. Just repeat after me, 'I didn't leave the Republican party, the Republican party left me.'


If someone asks you to help with their efforts to recall an elected official run the other way. Just like the second season of True Detective, it will be a complete waste of your time. Case in point, this week the campaigns to recall Senator Chuck Riley and Representative Susan McClain announced they failed miserably. And the campaign to recall Representative Val Hoyle failed miserably a couple of weeks ago. These recalls were initiated because these legislators voted to require background checks for private gun sales. The campaigns blamed anybody and everybody including national interest groups both liberal and conservative. The one group they did not blame who bears all of the responsibility for the failure of these recall efforts? The voters in their respective districts. Nobody put a gun to their head (pun intended) and told them not to sign the petitions. They should blame their neighbors, not the unions. But it is not entirely their fault that they failed. Sure they were unorganized and underfunded, but the laws governing the recall process of elected officials were written by elected officials. Did they really think they would make it easy?  

The Portland Taxi Industry

Thanks to Uber and Lyft, the taxi industry, as it has existed for decades in Portland, is no more. On Wednesday, taxi, Uber and Lyft drivers lined up to share the details of that demise with the Portland City Council. Unsurprisingly, one side had nothing but good things to say about how things are now. Guess which side that was. In the middle of all this is Commissioner Steve Novick, the head of the Bureau of Transportation. He is in the unenviable position to oversee the deregulation of one of Portland's oldest industries. This pilot program to study the impact of these ride-sharing services lasts another two months. At that point the City will decide how to deal with the taxis in town. If both services are to survive, there needs to be one set of rules. Taxi companies can't be burdened by City regulations as they are already at a disadvantage because of fixed costs that competing car-sharing services don't have. Because deregulation has always been a good thing, right?


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