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The former chief of staff to the late Portland Commissioner Nick Fish is now running to replace him

PMG FILE PHOTO - Metro Councilor Sam ChaseMetro Councilor Sam Chase has announced that he is running for the Portland City Council vacancy created by the death of Commissioner Nick Fish.

Before being elected to Metro, Chase served as the chief of staff to Fish. He has also worked in the nonprofit sector serving homeless and low-income communities for many years.

"Everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed. That means access to living wage jobs, affordable housing, clean air and water, parks and recreation, and a great quality of life," Chase said in his announcement. "When we ensure that all of our communities, black, brown, and white, have the support they deserve, Portland's economy and quality of life will improve for all of us."

Chase is giving up his Metro seat to run for the City Council because he is up for reelection this year.

As a Metro councilor, Chase has pushed for affordable housing, climate friendly transportation, clean air and water, parks and nature, jobs, and social justice.

"I've always followed my heart to where I can have the greatest impact. Now, I'm ready to bring my success fighting to address affordable housing and homelessness, protect the environment, and create living wage jobs to the city I love," said Chase, who lives with his partner and children in Northeast Portland.

Chase said he intends to qualify for Portland's new public campaign financing program to fund his campaign.

The announcement included several endorsements, including: former Portland Parks and Recreation Director Zari Santner; Neighbors for Clean Air Executive Director Mary Peveto; Asian Health & Service Center founder Dr. Erik Szeto; and Northwest Housing Alternatives Executive Director Trell Anderson.

Fish died halfway through his current term of stomach cancer on Jan. 2. The City Council has scheduled the special election to replace him for the May primary election, with a runoff election between the top two candidates if no one receives more than 50% of the vote in August.

Other candidates who have either announed or are thought to be considering the race include: former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith; City Hall staffer Cynthia Castro; tenant organizer Margot Black, community activists Robin Castro and Diana Gutman; environmentalist Julia DeGraw, who lost to Fish in the 2018 primary election; immigrant and refugee advocate Ronault 'Polo' Catalani; Dan Ryan, former Portland Public Schools Board member and former CEO of All Hands Raised, a Multnomah County-wide student success and equity nonprofit.

Former Mayor Sam Adams had been expected to run for the seat but filed against Commissioner Chloe Euday instead.

As first reported by Willamette Week, candidates who might replace Chase include: former Oregon House Majority Leader Mary Nolan, who has already filed to run; patent lawyer and business consultantKaren Spencer; Q Center Executive Director Cameron Whitten; and Portland Planning and Sustainability Commissioner Chris Smith.

According to the announcement, in addition to his experience as an elected official and in City Hall, Chase recently stepped down as Executive Director of the Coalition of Community Health Clinics. He previously directed the Oregon Opportunity Network (now Housing Oregon), directed the Clackamas Community Land Trust, and served as Housing Policy Advisor for Portland City Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury. He has served on the boards of the Northwest District Association, Housing Development Center, Coalition for a Livable Future and the Multnomah Chapter of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters.


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