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Plus, elections reform activist Seth Woolley challenges Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and Metro hits the gas on affordable housing projects

PMG FILE PHOTO - Mayor Ted Wheeler

Mayor Ted Wheeler last week was forced to thread the needle between addressing homelessness and not alienating organized labor.

Wheeler, who is running for reelection next year, was one of three West Coast mayors who pulled out of a "Solving Homelessness" panel discussion on Aug. 15 because of a threatened picket line. The discussion was sponsored at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club by Kaiser Permanente. As first reported by Politico, Wheeler cancelled when SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West announced the picket line before possibly striking the large health care provider.

"The mayor has a firm policy to never cross picket lines," Wheeler spokesman Tim Becker said in an email, which also noted the planned Aug. 17 political protests played a role in his decision to stay in Portland.

Also cancelling were Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

Woolley to challenge Eudaly

A potentially serious candidate has filed against Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. Elections reform advocate Seth Woolley has formed a campaign committee to challenge Eudaly in the 2020 May primary election. Woolley was also the Green Party's nominee for Oregon Secretary of State in 2008 and 2012. He only received about 3% of the vote, however.

Woolley received some press coverage in the last election by filing elections complaints against a number of candidates, including Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, who he charged should have resigned when she began running for the City Council. Like her campaign, the complaint eventually fizzled.

Eudaly is also being challenged by Kevin McKay, a Portland banker.

Housing issue goes into high gear

Metro is working to keep its promise to fast-track the affordable housing projects to be funded by the $652.8 million regional bond measure voters approved in the November 2018 general election.

The Metro Council already has approved funding for four projects totally 339 units, roughly 10% of the total called for in the bond. The council has approved $34.4 million for the projects, which include one each in Portland, Beaverton, Tigard and Clackamas County.

The Portland project is the redevelopment of Dekum Court, a 1972 public housing complex in Northeast Portland owned by Home Forward, that will add 160 units.

The council approved the framework for spending the funds before voters approved the measure. Spending on the $258.4 million affordable housing measure approved by Portland voters at the 2016 November general election slowed while the city subsequently approved its guidelines. More projects now are headed to the City Council for approval.


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