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Latest mayoral candidate is an urban planning wonk who commutes on a folding e-bike

Posted by on January 19th, 2016 at 3:50 pm

Sarah Iannarone

Sarah Iannarone, a doctoral candidate in the venerable Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University, is running for Portland mayor. The Willamette Week reported the news earlier today and a source tells us Iannarone will make an official announcement this Thursday at 11:00 am in front of City Hall.

According to the Willamette Week, Iannarone was encouraged to run by none other than our current mayor Charlie Hales. The connection? Iannarone works with Nancy Hales at First Stop Portland, an organization housed at Portland State University that shows off Portland’s livability and urban planning successess to delegations from around the globe.

Iannarone, 42, joins Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Commissioner Jules Bailey in a race that so far has failed to muster excitement from Portland’s large number of urban planning and transportation wonks.

Here’s more from The Willamette Week on what her entry means to the race:

Iannarone’s candidacy would add an element of unpredictability to a race that was shaping up as a head-to-head contest between Wheeler and Bailey.

With her experience advocating bicycle transportation and greater urban density, Iannarone could siphon the votes of Portland’s young liberals away from Bailey. Those votes are crucial in the May primary, where voters are usually older and more conservative.

But her candidacy also increases the likelihood of a runoff in the November general election. In a presidential election year, like this one, November voters are often younger and more liberal. That could be bad news for Wheeler, a Democrat seen as the more conservative candidate in the race.

An image from the First Stop Portland website.

Iannarone doesn’t just sing the praises of urban cycling at her day job, she has more real-life, everyday cycling experience than either Bailey or Wheeler. A quick scroll through her Twitter timeline shows that Iannarone commutes to work year-round on a folding electric bike.

Iannarone is also mentioned in a 2009 Portland Mercury story titled, “Protest for Pedestrian Rights.” Iannarone participated in that rally following a collision that killed two women who were walking in the crosswalk at SE 80th and Foster. “This road was designed for automobiles, not for people,” Iannarone told The Mercury. “What we need to do is make it more difficult for cars to go through.”

I also couldn’t help but notice the urban planning books on the shelf in the photo Iannarone chose to use on her Twitter profile:



That’s some wonktastic stuff right there. This race just got much more interesting.

We plan to attend Iannarone’s official announcement on Thursday. Stay tuned.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

UPDATE, 1/20 at 6:47 am: This article initially stated that Iannarone’s announcement would be made in front of Keller Auditorium. It will be made in front of City Hall. Sorry for any confusion.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • yashardonnay January 19, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Just going by what was written in this article, she may be the answer to our dreams.

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  • daisy January 19, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    I’m wondering if she might do better if people don’t realize the Hales connection.

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    • J.E. January 19, 2016 at 5:07 pm

      The Hales connection isn’t a bad thing IMO. She appears to have much less government experience than Bailey or Wheeler, so having the current mayor say, “yeah, I think you’re up for the job” helps alleviate qualification concerns significantly.

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      • daisy January 19, 2016 at 5:12 pm

        Yeah, I’m not sure a one-term mayor who isn’t beloved by the progressives in Portland is that helpful of an endorsement. Earlier this summer his tweets suggested he thought his opinion on this should be paramount, and it really irked a lot of folks that he seemed to feel entitled to anoint a successor.

        In any case, I’m thrilled by this candidacy. She obviously has done a ton of relevant work and her politics seem great. I hope she’s a strong candidate as well.

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        • was carless January 22, 2016 at 4:50 pm

          I don’t know, Portlanders are pretty fickle with their politicians. Plus the city’s governance system is setup to prevent the mayor from actually making any important decisions anyways.

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  • EricIvy January 19, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    Fork in the small spokes! Looking forward to a BP interview 🙂

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  • Adam H. January 19, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    So far, Iannarone seems like a breath of fresh air compared to the cookie-cutter, media approved duo of Wheeler and Bailey. Looking forward to see how she pans out.

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  • Paul Atkinson January 19, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Okay, I’m definitely listening. 🙂

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  • Todd Hudson January 19, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    “Sources tell WW that Charlie Hales urged Iannarone to enter the race.”

    I could be wrong about this, but having the endorsement of the current mayor is definitely not a positive thing.

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  • Spiffy January 19, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    she already has my vote…

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  • steve-o January 19, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Her glasses must have the same designer as the Klingon swords. Who else notices the resemblance?

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    • Todd Hudson January 19, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      Google says there no such thing as bat’leth eyeglasses, but there are many types of bat’leth drinking glasses! SMH

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    • mh January 19, 2016 at 11:02 pm

      At first glance I thought they were industrial safety glasses, but the frame convinced me otherwise.

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  • mran1984 January 19, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    It’ s a moped. I love the Klingon bit steve-o. I know why Hales is not running. How about you?

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  • anonymous_middle_aged_white_guy_in_a_box January 19, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    I was all ready to get on her bandwagon, then I read this (from the very end of the WW article): “Because what’s sorely needed in Portland politics is another middle-aged white guy,” wrote Innarone.

    I get the sentiment (the political status quo is subpar and it really is), I’m just really uncomfortable how she says it; the language is more divisive than constructive. But who am I to judge? I’ve said some snarky sh*% (just not publicly on the internet)!

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    • Adam H. January 20, 2016 at 8:52 am

      I feel the complete opposite. A little snark never hurt anyone, plus she’s 100% right.

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      • soren January 20, 2016 at 9:36 am

        But more importantly what is her position on protected bike lanes…

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        • Adam H. January 20, 2016 at 10:11 am

          I’m guessing she’s for them, and since I’m a single-issue voter, she gets my vote. 😉

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    • was carless January 22, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      As a middle-aged white guy, I disagree with your position. City hall needs a shakeup.

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  • Anne Hawley
    Anne Hawley January 19, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    Well this is promising!

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson January 19, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Ah, someone who walks (or bikes) the talk!! But can she raise money?

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    • Lance Lindahl January 19, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      She doesn’t need to. It’s called twitter and Facebook.

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    • Adam H. January 20, 2016 at 8:56 am

      It’s really sad that someone running for a local election in a city of only 600,000 people needs exorbitant amounts of money to run. Especially considering how highly politically engaged Portlanders are; anyone should be able to run an effective grassroots campaign here.

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      • soren January 20, 2016 at 11:00 am

        Ironically, Portland voters rejected publicly-funded elections 6 years ago.

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  • Aaron January 19, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    I’ve known Sarah a little bit over the years. She’s done a lot of work with City Repair and I would guess that she’s the single most important force involved in creating the landscaped triangle at 72nd & Woodstock. She’s been involved in neighbourhoods for many years. I really appreciate that she’s biking to work, very few even marginal candidates consider that
    (I have a couple of neg. thoughts, but I think their minor for now)

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  • wsbob January 19, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    What does Iannarone have for political experience? Does she have, or will she be able to muster the chops needed to get commissioners, bureau heads, and other sorts of people in power positions, to work together to get things done?

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    • was carless January 22, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Well, she can’t do as poorly as Fritz.

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  • Ted Timmons (Contributor) January 19, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Woot. Looking forward to hearing more from/about her.

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  • Jennifer January 19, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Has Bike Walk Vote found a new leader yet? This piece makes me miss and appreciate the work that a group like BWV did for our community. They did such an excellent job of putting on display real, actual differences between candidates and elevating the voices of those who could create real, actual change. I feel like they could come in and do some strong advocacy work for someone like Sarah.

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  • Doug Klotz January 19, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    My experience is that Sarah has been a voice for appropriate levels of development and for affordable housing on Portland’s Mixed Use Zones rewrite committee for the last two years.

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  • mh January 19, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    What active transportation is going to call for a candidates’ debate – and ask the questions?

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    • Adam H. January 20, 2016 at 8:58 am

      How about a Bike Portland Wonk Night debate?

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  • longgone January 20, 2016 at 3:06 am

    Wow…. Really ?

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  • Social Engineer January 20, 2016 at 8:01 am

    Is Amanda Fritz going to waltz to reelection without any challenge? That is who truly needs to be thrown out of office. This city is a joke.

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    • maccoinnich January 20, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      Yeah, it’s really disappointing. If Iannarone’s experience includes “advocating [for] bicycle transportation and greater urban density” she should really be running against Fritz, who is often hostile to those issues.

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      • wsbob January 21, 2016 at 10:36 am

        Fritz works in favor of city and neighborhood livability, and doesn’t cater to or cave in to bullying behavior. Both are excellent qualities for a city leader to have.

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        • Ted Timmons (Contributor) January 21, 2016 at 1:47 pm

          Personally, she is too conservative/status-quo for me. It’s seen on issues where her response is basically NIMBY. One example was the recent ADU change.

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        • maccoinnich January 21, 2016 at 2:14 pm

          “Livability” is such as nebulous term as to be meaningless. One could use the word to argue in favor of better bicycle transportation and greater urban density. Or against them, depending on ones view on the matter.

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        • was carless January 22, 2016 at 4:54 pm

          “Livability” is essentially a PC term to whitewash your own position so as to paint your opponent as against all that is good and holy.

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  • Jim Lee January 20, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Interesting, but not Bud Clark

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  • Jim Lee January 20, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    However, possibly the long-lost second sister of K’Ehleyr…

    ..but Klingons do not ride electric bicycles…

    …especially the females!

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  • John R January 21, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    Thank you for the serious coverage…unlike the Oregonian where we get talk of cake? How can this be our paper of record in 2016?

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    • maccoinnich January 21, 2016 at 12:57 pm

      That cake article rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it would be a fun post for later in the campaign… but as the first article they write about her entry into the race? Seriously?

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