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Longest serving City Council member is mourned after passing away from cancer on Jan. 2

PMG PHOTOS: BILL GALLAGHER - Senator Ron Wyden was introduced by Commissioner Nick Fish at his town hall at Robert Gray Middle School in November.Heartfelt tributes to Commisioner Nick Fish were released following his death at age 61 from cancer on Thursday, Jan. 2. He will be replaced in a special election.

"We are mourning the loss of Commissioner Nick Fish. All of us who knew Nick understood how much he cared about his family, the City and his team," said Mayor Ted Wheeler.

"Nick was a dear friend and a trusted public servant. He fiercely advocated for all Portlanders and always led with compassion, wit and intelligence.

"He was instrumental in shaping Portland for the better and I often sought his advice and guidance.

"We are especially thinking about his family and his team — as we continue to grieve his passing.

"Nick was taken too early. He will be dearly missed."

Commissioner Nick Fish died on January 2, 2020.U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer said, "Nick was a dedicated public servant who continued his service as he waged a courageous battle against cancer. We honor that service as we mourn his loss. My deepest sympathy to his family."

U.S. Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici said, "Nick was one of the kindest and most authentic people I've known. Although he came from a long line of prominent New York politicians, Nick was truly humble. He worked hard and was passionate about our community, especially on issues of housing and homelessness, the environment, and parks. He was a strong advocate for the arts, and I'll always remember when he joined me for a tour of the Portland Art Museum with the Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. Nick occasionally entertained me with stories about his time working with former Congressman Barney Frank. But most importantly, Nick loved his family. I hope Patricia, the children, and the extended family are comforted by memories of happy times together with this remarkable man. Rest in peace, Nick."

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said, "I'm very saddened to hear of Commissioner Fish's passing earlier today. I've known Nick for decades, and while our time as colleagues on council was briefer than expected, I have always respected his deep commitment and tenacity as a public servant, especially as he managed his illness. I send my deepest condolences to his family and friends as they navigate this time."

Former Mayor Sam Adams said, "Rest In Peace my friend. You did good, you did very good. Portland and much more is better for your work. Big hug and support to your family in the face of this terrible loss. I feel lucky to have known you."

Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner said, "During his tenure serving as City Commissioner, Nick Fish was a champion of the people, he cared about the most vulnerable, he loved our city, and he was a fair and steady force in Portland's City Council. In all my interactions with Commissioner Fish, even when we didn't agree, he was honorable and a man of his word. What a great loss to our city. He will be greatly missed. Our condolences and prayers go out to his family during this tragic time."

Dan Lavey, Presdient of Gallatin Public Affaits, said, " Nick was first and foremost a good person: smart, thoughtful and kind. Nick believed in public service and while progressive, wasn't rigidly ideological. He was a moderating, inclusive voice on the city council. He was a friend and mentor to many. Nick leaves an important legacy of both accomplishments and how to serve with integrity, wit and good humor. I've lost a friend. Portland has lost an outstanding leader and citizen."

Paul Phillips, president and owner of Pac/West Communications, said, "Nick was always the adult in the room. He would ask, why? Rather than listen to the loudest, he focused on doing the right thing for the long term."

The Portland Timbers — who Fish always supported — said, "Saddened by the passing of Commissioner Nick Fish. He was a lover of soccer and a great supporter and friend of the club. Our hearts go out to his family and friends."

The University of Portland, where Fish had long supported its soccer teams, said, "For more than a decade, Commissioner Nick Fish served our city with dignity, vision, commitment and passion. His approach to city hall governance was rooted in what was best for Portland, not just politically relevant or viable. For our University of Portland community, Commissioner Fish was both a friend and fan, especially of our Pilots women's soccer program. He often honored us with his presence and support, and we will miss him."

A lawyer and the son of former New York Congressman Hamilton Fish, he first joined the council in 2008 after winning a May special election to fill the unexpired term of Commissioner Erik Sten, who resigned to pursue other interests. Fish was re-elected to a full four-year term in 2010, in 2014, and again in 2018.

Fish was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2017 but had been maintaining a busy schedule until December, when he took most of last December off because his disease had gotten more "complicated."

Portland election officials say there is still enough time for the council to schedule the replacement vote for the May 19 primary election, when the other three other council positions will also be on the ballot. Like with those races, candidates would have until March 10 to file for Fish's position.

If no candidate receives more than 50%, the top two vote-getters will face off at a run-off election, the same as the other races. If they happen, those races will be decided at the November 3 general election. The council could also choose the Sept. 15 special election allowed by Oregon law, however.


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