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Special election is set for Aug. 11 to replace Commissioner Nick Fish, who died in January.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Dan Ryan earns the Tribune's endorsement for the Portland City Council. For the May 19 primary election, we endorsed former Portland school board member Dan Ryan as the right candidate in a crowded field to replace former Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, who died in January with three years remaining on his term.

Ryan is now in an Aug. 11 runoff election with former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, who was also one of the top two finishers in May. After further review, we still believe Ryan is best suited to replace Fish on the council.

Our endorsement of Ryan isn't a slam dunk, as we have often found ourselves in agreement with Smith on the issues, such as her previous willingness to consider Wapato Jail for a homeless shelter.

Smith also has many personal and professional qualities to recommend her for the job. As a Black woman who raised a son in Portland, she understands the real-life impacts of institutional racism. As a longtime aide to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, she has an intricate understanding of government at all levels and how local, state and federal agencies can interact to the benefit of Portlanders. As a county commissioner, she had notable accomplishments, including creation of a summer jobs program that helped thousands of young people.

Our reservations about Smith involve her use of county money for questionable purposes, and her inability while a county commissioner to get along well with some of her staff members and fellow commissioners. On top of those concerns is this very practical matter: Smith's long-standing feud with current Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who defeated Smith for a council seat in 2018, would immediately set up the next City Council for ongoing conflict.

From our perspective, Ryan is more likely to provide a conciliatory voice on the council, seeking common ground and, at least in the beginning, bringing no personal grudges to the role. Ryan also has an impressive background. In addition to his service on the school board, he worked in fund-raising for Portland State University and spent nearly a decade as executive director of the All Hands Raised foundation.

In this latter role, Ryan made a big impact on under-served communities. Under his leadership, All Hands Raised grew from being just the Portland Schools Foundation to serving multiple eastside school districts as well. Ryan and his organization recognized the migration of poverty to the east and voluntarily shifted their focus to support education in those communities.?

As we noted back in April, Ryan's three-plus decades of proven advocacy work in the nonprofit realm speaks for itself. He builds bridges. He forms coalitions.?

And that's a skill set needed on the Portland City Council more than ever, especially with Fish's presence being sorely missed. For that reason, we recommend voters give Dan Ryan their support in the Aug. 11 election.


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