Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 24th, 2009 at 2:08 pm
the rally that convinced Sam Adams
to stay on as Mayor, sat down with
him for a chat recently.
(Photos © J. Maus)
Without Hollie Teal, Sam Adams would no longer be Portland’s Mayor. At least, that’s what Adams told her during a lunch they recently had together.
Teal is the woman who organized the big rally in support of Sam Adams just as his chances at staying on the job looked grim (Adams was absent from City Hall and calls for his resignation were all over the media). Back in January, when the rally happened, I wondered if it signaled Adams’ political resurrection. Turns out, it did.
Teal — an everyday bike commuter who describes herself as a “cycling wonk” — served as catalyst for the rally and she also maintains the Sam is Still My Mayor blog. A few days ago, Adams called Teal to thank her for her support. Yesterday, the two met and Teal wrote about the meeting on her blog.
The big news for Teal was Adams sharing with her that it was the rally that convinced him to stay. She wrote (emphasis mine):
“Sam was going to quit before the rally happened, but the outpouring of support convinced him to stay. He had that first week been holed up at home, reading the negative press about himself, and felt shocked and hurt at how the local media was attacking him. Our support was a turning point for him, and he showed no shortage of gratitude for our efforts.”
Teal says they also talked about a wide range of topics including, not surprisingly, transportation:
“We talked a lot about transportation infrastructure, the CRC, cycling in Portland (when he gets honked at by cars, he tries to catch up to them and make sure they see his face — I guess the reaction he gets is pretty funny), the Interstate Ave. off-ramp where Brett Jarolimek was killed (he says “It will never be re-opened”), bike licensing (he’s against it, but supports free bike registration to help track down stolen bikes), how often he rides (3 times a week), the BTA (he’s a member and supports the organization strongly), bike boulevards, etc.. It was heaven for a cycling wonk like me!”
For many Portlanders, hearing that a bike lover and “cycling wonk” is one of Adams’ most ardent and active supporters, isn’t a big surprise. But on the other side of the Adams saga is a man behind a fledgling effort to remove him from office.
at a Midnight Mystery Ride in
(Photo: Elly Blue)
Jasun Wurster, who has been involved with many local bike events and initiatives, is also a volunteer spokesperson for RecallSamAdams.com (read more about Wurster’s involvement in this article that appeared in the Portland Tribune last week).
Wurster’s outspoken actions in trying to get Adams removed from office have surprised some in the bike scene. Carye Bye, who worked with Hollie Teal to organize the pro-Adams rally, recently sent an email to friends hoping to muster support for the Mayor. In that email she wrote:
“…one of the bigger surprises many of us are learning is that Jasun Wurster is the spokesperson for the Recall Sam Adams. (Jasun if you reading this, I want my sunflower mu-mu back from the Pretty Dress Bike Ride!)”
in April 2006.
(Photo © J. Maus)
An exasperated Wurster told me on the phone this morning that he’s not used to being “Public enemy number one.” That being said, Wurster is no stranger to politics or the bike scene.
Wurster says he’s just one paper shy of completing a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Portland State University. He was also deputy campaign manager for Amanda Fritz’s primary election campaign last fall (she won, and is now a Portland city commissioner).
On the bike side of things, Wurster is a common sight at bike events. In years past he has done everything from helping organize Portland’s Naked Bike Ride to wheeling his bike-mounted stereo system to a bike wedding. He was also very active in a series of sit-down meetings between the Portland Police Bureau, bike lawyer Mark Ginsberg, and others to discuss Critical Mass issues.
According to Wurster, he is trying to recall Mayor Adams precisely because he cares about biking.
“I’m seeing the bike community act as a special interest group with a goal to keep Adams in power, instead of looking at larger issues that affect Portland.”
— Jasun Wurster
“The danger from the bike community comes from having a weak mayor, which is worse than not having a mayor that supports the programs we cherish,” he said.
Wurster believes that the scandal surrounding Adams has left him weak and that he is now being manipulated by Portland’s powerful business interests. “I fear that he is at the mercy of his most powerful and wealthy supporters,” explained Wurster, “These people generally do not care too much about bicycle issues.” (Wurster mentioned the Port of Portland, the Portland Business Alliance and “labor unions wanting big construction jobs” as examples of these supporters).
Wurster sees a divisive split in opinions among people who ride bikes in Portland around the Sam Adams issue (and other issues) — and that’s what he sees as major problem. “Our city needs to be able to rally around a strong leader… Sam has a lot of great ideas, he just doesn’t have the public trust or the political capital to get things done.”
Further, Wurster is critical of how some of his friends in the bike scene have responded to the Adams saga. “I’m seeing the bike community act as a special interest group with a goal to keep Adams in power, instead of looking at larger issues that affect Portland.”