Portland City Council races are heating up as the May 17 primary election approaches.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Portland City HallA political action committee supporting challenger Vadim Mozyrsky against Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and incumbent Dan Ryan has reported raising $185,000 to date.

Portland United was formed with the help of the Portland Business Alliance and so far reports contributions from developers and businesses, including $100,000 from the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors PAC. No spending has yet been reported.

"The primary election on May 17, 2022, takes place as our city reaches its most crucial inflection point. The unacceptable status of our region is clear and obvious for all Greater Portland residents to see. This election provides us with an opportunity to vote for a positive alternative — sure, we can continue with the status quo, which has led to a record level of houselessness, violent crime, cost of living increases and trash with no clear plan for recovery OR we can elect practical, collaborative leaders who will get our city refocused on delivering basic services and who will act with clear, actionable strategies for solving the multitude of crises facing our entire Portland region," the alliance said in an April 21 email soliciting funds for the committee.

The committee's website lists the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers as a member but no contributions from the union has been reported yet. Some other unions have contributed to Mozyrsky.

"Business organizations and unions don't always agree, but we have set our differences aside to work together toward a more prosperous Portland," the email said. "We've carefully evaluated the candidates and have identified the top two who we believe will work to unite our city and make it safe, livable and enjoyable again."

Other contributions between $400 and $25,000 have been reported from: 3rd and Ash LLC; Pegg Investment Co;Downtown Developers LLC, Uptown Developers LLC; Mark Central Plaza LLC; 707 SW Washington Prop; GG Pearl LLC; Crown Plaza; Schnitzer Properties LLC, and Standard Insurance Company. Other members listed on the website with no reported contributions include: Oregon Smarty Growth; the Portland Business Alliance; NAIOP; Homebuilders Association of Metropolitan Portland; and SMART.

The election can be won by any candidates who receives more than 50% of the vote. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters go to a runoff in the Nov. 8 general election.

Mozyrsky and Ryan are both participating in the city's Small Donor Elections public campaign finance program that matches limited contributions with public funds. Nothing prohibits independent committees that file with the Oregon Secretary of State's Office from raising and spending unlimited funds to support candidates, however, providing there is no coordination between the committees.

Hardesty was first elected to the council in the November 2018 election when she defeated former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith with 61.8% of the vote. One recent poll found only 25% support for her reelection, with the majority of voters undecided.

Mozyrsky is a Ukrainian immigrant and administrative law judge who has served on many city committees. Hardesty's other major challenger is Rene Gonzales, a lawyer and small business owners who led a grassroots campaign to reopen public schools during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During their City Club debate, Mozyrsky and Gonzales said Hardesty represented the failure of city government to solve the homeless and crime crises. Both called for hiring more new officers than Hardesty, but all three agreed on the need for more homeless shelters.

Ryan was elected to fill the late Commissioner Nick Fish's unexpired term at the Aug. 11, 2020, special election. He defeated former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith by a relatively narrow margin of 51.2% to 48%, with roughly 1% of the vote going to write-in candidates in final unofficial results.

Ryan's strongest opponent is Alanna Joy (AJ) McCreary, a Black activist and executive director of the Equitable Giving Circle, a nonprofit organization who stated goal is building equity throughout Portland's BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) communities.

During their City Club of Portland debate, Ryan supported hiring more Portland police and creating more homeless shelters, while McCreary argued both were counterproductive.

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.