Many political candidates try to kick off their campaigns with an attention-getting event or location. North Portland businesswoman Sharon Maxwell did both when she announced last week that she would run against Commissioner Nick Fish. She did so while testifying before the City Council against the resolution supported by Fish to have the Citizens Utility Board weigh in on the management of the Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services, which Fish oversees.

After declaring she was running against Fish, Maxwell dismissed CUB as “some nonprofit group that hasn’t been vetted.”

Fish said he was surprised by the announcement because he hadn’t heard Maxwell was running. But he has not been taking his re-election for granted. His campaign committee currently has more than $30,000 in the bank. Major recent contributions include $1,000 each from PGE, Russell Fellows Properties, California venture capitalist Russell Pyne, and Melvin Mark Cos. President and Chief Executive Officer Daniel Petrusich. Maxwell has not reported any contributions yet.

Maybe size doesn’t matter

When former Portland city Commissioner Jim Francesconi first announced for Multnomah County chairman, some political insiders dismissed his chances. He had been out of politics for years and was running against former Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury, who is part of a political family with a lot of name familiarity.

Well, it looks like Francesconi has convinced at least a few people he has a chance. He has raised more than $66,000 so far, with large contributions coming from businessman Robert Gootee, developer Jim Winkler and Chinese community leader Steven Louie.

At the same time, Kafoury has outraised him by about $20,000. Her major contributors include businessman Junki Yoshida, Broadway Cab and developer Bob Ball.

And, as Francesconi is tired of hearing, even though he raised more than $1 million to run for Portland mayor, he lost to underfunded former Portland Police Chief Tom Potter.

Toward which wing will county’s soul lean?

A race is shaping up that has been described as a “battle for the soul of Washington County” by Oregon progressives. Some writers on the left-leaning Blue Oregon website are characterizing the contest between incumbent Commissioner Bob Terry and former 1st District Rep. Elizabeth Furse as a choice between developers and environmentalists.

The five-member commission votes unanimously on most issues. But, to put it bluntly, some political observers think it actually is split 3-to-2 between pro- and anti-development interests, with Terry consistently siding with developers. Replacing him with Furse would shift the balance, they figure.

If true, the outcome could influence such things as the future location and expansion of companies like Intel in the Hillsboro area, and how much growth — if any — will ultimately occur on recent urban growth boundary expansion areas in the county. Several of them are tied up in the Oregon Court of Appeals.

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