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Plus, so many hats in the ring for City Council, the new public campaign financing system may run short of money

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Metro Council has little time to put a $300 million homeless services measure on rhe ballot.Voters could be asked to approve a $300 million measure to increase funding for homeless services throughout the region at the May 19 primary election.

Metro President Lynn Peterson has reversed her recent skepticism about such a measure and is asking Metro Council members if they want and can refer such a measure soon enough to meet election deadlines. The idea is being pushed by the HereTogether Coalition, which presented it to the Multnomah County Commission on Jan. 14. The group had not settled on a revenue source or a distribution system for the money.

Metro sponsored a successful $652.8 million affordable housing bond measure in 2018. The elected regional government has no experience raising and spending funds for homeless services, however.

Peterson's change of heart was first reported by Willamette Week.

Many hats in ring for City Council

So far, nearly 50 candidates have either qualified to run for the council with the Portland Auditor's Office or filed campaign committees with the Oregon Secretary of State's Office, or both. And the filing deadline is not until March 10.

One reason for the large number of candidates is the unplanned need to fill the unexpired term of late Commissioner Nick Fish, who died of cancer Jan. 2. The race for that open seat already has attracted 11 candidates. But so has the race for mayor, where incumbent Ted Wheeler is running for reelection.

Public campaign financing program in trouble?

Only 16 of the current City Council candidates are trying to qualify for Portland's new public campaign financing program, called Open and Accountable Elections. But, as Oregon Public Broadcasting recently reported, if all of them qualify, the public match will either have to be reduced or the council will have to give it more money.

The council has approved $3.5 million for the program, which is intended to match small donations raised by qualifying candidates on a 6-to-1 basis. That amount should be more than enough for the three candidates who have qualified for the program so far.

But, as OPB reported Jan. 21, the fund would run $1.7 million short if all the rest qualify. Administrators have the authority to reduce the match to prevent running a deficit, but they also could ask the council for more money before the May 19 primary election.


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