Activists aim to recall Portland mayor, city commissioner
A City Hall duo who voted against further cuts to the Portland Police Bureau will now face recall efforts launched from the left.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Dan Ryan both won elections in 2020 — but activists with the newly-launched Total Recall political action committee think voters may change their minds after the effort to slash an additional $18 million from PPB's coffers failed in early November.
"I voted for Dan Ryan because he led me to believe he was a staunch advocate for police reform," said Portland attorney Alan Kessler. "After his refusal to vote for Commissioner Hardesty's budget reduction amendment, I feel betrayed. I want my vote back. I want an apology."
"Portlanders deserve better than a mayor who spent the summer tear-gassing his own residents," said Athul Acharya, another lawyer. "Wheeler ran a dirty campaign, violating multiple campaign-finance laws that nearly all of us voted for, and he still couldn't convince a majority of the city he should be mayor. He's corrupt, he's ineffective and he's out of touch. We deserve better."
The petitioners will need to gather the signatures of at least 35,925 registered voters in Portland to bring a recall election to the ballot, according to the city auditor. No city official can be recalled until they have served the first six months of their term.
"I ran for office as a bridge builder, and I remain on that course — fully prepared to find a way for us to meet the complex challenges we face," Ryan said in a statement. "I am committed to working thoughtfully in a time of multiple crises that offer no simple solutions. I love my hometown. It is an honor to serve Portland, and I do so with all my heart."
"I'm focused on working with my colleagues and community partners to build and launch an agenda that moves Portland forward over the next four years," Wheeler said in a statement. "My City Council colleagues and I are committed to continued progress on COVID relief and recovery, affordability, racial justice and climate, and we're excited to get to work."
Kessler — who represented mayoral challenger Sarah Iannarone in a lawsuit regarding Wheeler's campaign contributions this year — will serve as the treasurer of Total Recall. Seth Wooley, who ran against Commissioner Chloe Eudaly this year but didn't make it to the runoff, is listed as another director of the PAC, per state records.
"Ryan ran as a staunch police accountability advocate during a period of intense protests for racial justice, which earned him the endorsement of Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty," said attorney Kat Mahoney. "However, as soon as he had the opportunity to vote for a reduction in the police budget, he backtracked and called for more study around an issue he previously claimed to understand."
Portland is no stranger to recall elections, though recent attempts have proved more quixotic than successful. Former mayors Charlie Hales and Sam Adams, as well as commissioners Steve Novick, Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish all have faced the threat of recall — but none were recalled, Oregonian reporter Brad Schmidt wrote on social media.
Total Recall says it will begin signature-gathering efforts in summer 2021.
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