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Plus, Kotek wants Oregon Homelessness State of Emergency and 'Commander Fritz' joins the City Council

PMG FILE PHOTO - Big changes could be coming to City Hall at the May 2020 primary election.Speculation was swirling last week about who will run for late Commissioner Nick Fish's seat even before the City Council set the special election to replace him for the May 19 primary.

Already announcing they plan to run by press time are Metro Councilor Sam Chase, City Hall staffer Cynthia Castro, tenant organizer Margot Black, community activists Robin Castro and Diana Gutman, and environmentalist Julia DeGraw, who lost to Fish in the 2018 primary election.

Known to be considering it are two political veterans, former Portland Mayor Sam Adams and former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, who lost to Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty in the 2018 general election. Also considering it is Dan Ryan, former Portland Public Schools Board member and former CEO of All Hands Raised, a Multnomah County-wide student success and equity nonprofit.

Well-known immigrant and refugee community coordinator Ronault 'Polo' Catalani also told the Tribune he plans to run. He was first appointed to the city's Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs in 2008, but was terminated in 2018 while off work because of stress.

Fish died of cancer Jan. 2. A public memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, in Hoffman Hall on the Portland State University campus.

Kotek wants Oregon Homelessness State of Emergency

As first reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting, state House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, wants the 2020 Oregon Legislature that convenes Feb. 1 to declare a statewide Homelessness State of Emergency.

Kotek told OPB that such a declaration would allow zoning rules to be suspended to more quickly site homeless shelters needed for the state's rapidly growing homeless population. It would be modeled after the series already adopted by the Portland City Council, OPB reported.

A DHM Research poll conducted last August confirms voters want government action on the homeless crisis. It found a vast majority of voters supports a wide range of responses, from funding for addiction and mental health services (84%) to new laws making it easier to dismantle homeless camps and prevent sleeping on sidewalks (71%).

'Commander Fritz' joins City Council

Commissioner Amanda Fritz received a new title during the City Council's second hearing on the controversial neighborhood association reform proposal on Thursday, Jan. 9.

When Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty began to say she shared some of Fritz's concerns over the lack of clarity of the process going forward, she inadvertently merged "Commissioner" and "Amanda" and referred to her as "Commander Fritz." Hilarity ensued as Hardesty lost her train of thought and Fritz couldn't figure out if that was a promotion or demotion.

The council set the next hearing on the proposal by Commissioner Chloe Eudaly to form a multibureau work group to make recommendations about improving the city' public involvement process for 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30. The final vote seems uncertain.


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