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No re-election for Mayor Adams: What is your reaction?

Posted by on July 29th, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Adams at a press conference last month.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Big political news in Portland today: Mayor Sam Adams announced he will not run for a second term in City Hall.

In an announcement posted a few hours ago, Adams wrote:

“I am under no illusion of how challenging the race for re-election would be. I’ve been in tough elections before; nobody thought I could win my city council race in 2004. But I believe for me to win re-election as mayor, I would need to fundraise and campaign full-time, starting now.

As I have considered the reality of a possible re-election effort, I have come to the conclusion that I have a choice: Move this agenda forward, or campaign full-time for re-election.

With the state of our nation in such flux, and so many local issues needing focused and hands-on mayoral leadership, for me, the choice is clear.

My best service to Portland will be to complete the platform of change and improvement you elected me to deliver: Creating jobs, increasing the high school graduation rate, and making Portland the most sustainable city, with the most equal of opportunities. This work is well underway, and I’m committed to making every day of the next 17 months count. Thus, I will not seek re-election.”

In addition to being Mayor, Adams is also oversees the Bureau of Transportation. Whether or not a new mayor would keep that bureau remains to be seen.

If Adams had chosen to run, he would likely have been the favorite (incumbents usually are). However, it would not have been a cakewalk. For many, Adams is still hampered by a scandal that occurred when he took office back in 2009.

Right now, the mayoral front-runners are Eileen Brady (of New Seasons fame) and former Commissioner and streetcar consultant Charlie Hales. And don’t forget about 19-year old Max Brumm.

I’ll have more on those candidates in the days and weeks to come. For now, upon hearing this news, I’d love to know what you think. Are you happy that we’ll have fresh leadership at City Hall and at PBOT? Or, are you sad to see Adams bow out? A mix of both perhaps?

If the Mayor is picking policy over politics, will that change his current tone on bike projects?

The next 17 months are sure to be interesting.

Please support BikePortland.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • dan July 29, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Sam Adams has no integrity, and if not for voter apathy, would have been recalled. I voted for him, and I can’t imagine a scenario in which he could win a second term, even if he campaigned 80 hours a week from now until the election. Does he have any allies left?

    Looking forward to moving on with a different mayor, hopefully one that’s a little more trustworthy and a little less focused on self-aggrandizement.

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    • Professor Charles February 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      Actually, it’s the people who have been duped by the media. Six years ago, Adams had consensual sex with an adult who didn’t work for him. Since then, he has done more for the city in four years than any mayor has. It’s really sad he’s not running because when you look at the actual facts and compare him to his colleagues, Sam has done an incredible job. All I can say is that nowadays I get better information about Mayor Sam Adams and Portland through his twitter account than I do from most media. And that’s a very sad thing.

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  • Nick V July 29, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    I don’t know how he would have been the favorite as you suggest after all the turmoil from just after he took office. And I’m sure other candidates would have brought up his trustworthiness or lack thereof.

    It would be interesting to hear what people think he has accomplished while in office. He wanted us to think he was bike-friendly, progressive, etc. but, aside from lots of “research”, “studies”, and “investigation”, I can’t think of much.

    Being too busy to campaign is not much of an explanation for not running for re-election either. If Obama himself can do it……More than likely, I think that Adams realizes that his chances would be much slimmer than in 2008. My two cents.

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    • Nick V July 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm

      I forgot – he did that cameo appearance in “Portlandia.” Yup, he’s kept himself busy.

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  • DT July 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    I’m sure plenty of people will weigh in on Adams’ decision. I for one am disgusted that in this city (and in this country) you have to campaign for A YEAR AND A HALF. Ridiculous.

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    • John Mulvey July 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm

      April 27, 2012 is when ballots go out for the May Primary. There’s only a runoff in November if no candidate gets 50%+1.

      So the significant date in this election is just under 9 months from now.

      (This is actually pretty screwy. There’d be significantly better voter awareness and participation if there was instant runoff voting for all Council positions in the November election. We’d also avoid this awful 7-1/2 month transition between election day and swearing-in. The Charter Review Commission ought to look at this.)


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  • Allan July 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Hopefully he will continue to push the all-bikes-all-the time transportation agenda and the next person will be as pro-bike as Sam is

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    • chad b July 29, 2011 at 5:27 pm

      Hopefully not! I hope we can find a mayor that can cater to all types of vehicles and citizens, and as well, effectively manage our (under Federal review) police force.

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      • A.K. July 30, 2011 at 4:08 pm

        Yes, because the city clearly doesn’t cater at all to cars. /rolls eyes

        Please to be telling me how much we’ve spent on car-specific road construction vs. bike-specific construction.

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      • eric July 31, 2011 at 5:35 pm

        what the **** does that mean? that’s like saying you hope we can have a mayor that will cater to able-bodied people as well as to handicapped.

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  • Nick V July 29, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Not to seem bitter, but I won’t miss Randy Leonard either.

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  • Jeffrey Bernards July 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I didn’t always agree with him, but I did agree that he made a decision and moved forward. It’s a very difficult job, I dare any of you to even think about running for mayor. I’m happy with what bike stuff was accomplished even against harsh criticism from the media and public. All of you bikers should be very thankful for what he’s done for bikes. I think you can still apply for the position, it’s open.

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  • spare_wheel July 29, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    I would rather have an entire city council of Sam Adams clones than have Brady or Hales at the helm.

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  • wsbob July 29, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    It’s kind of too bad he’s not running for re-election. Because, although he’s done some very obnoxious things leading up to and while in office, he’s got some of the right enthusiasm and civic mindedness to do a good job for Portland and the metro area. Of late, he seems to have been doing better, and if he stuck around, he might be able to expand on that.

    Maturity may be the most sufficient thing he lacks that keeps him from being up to the job. Earlier, he wasn’t solidly aware enough of how to manage his personal life relative to his professional life. In office he doesn’t seem to have been consistently solid enough on decisions and issues. Maybe this is due to too many personal distraction he had to spend time sorting out, which, again…of late, his performance as mayor seems to suggest he has sorted them out.

    But no doubt, the job can probably be extremely wearing, and maybe he’s just had enough. If he thinks he’s got to quit, I just hope this is the reason, and we don’t instead find out in a week or two, that he’s quitting because of some new, stinky scandal.

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  • dwainedibbly July 29, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Interesting. I wonder if he has other plans.

    Jonathan: how about, once all of the candidates have declared, etc, publishing a story with a summary of each candidates record & statements on transportation issues.

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  • Mark C July 29, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Lots of good points raised above. Now that Adams is out, I wonder who else might throw their hat into the ring. I can’t say I’m too enthused about the choices we have right now.

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  • Todd Boulanger July 29, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Not surprised at his announcement…given how much time there has been since Charlie threw his hat in the ring, etc.

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  • jrd July 29, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    He lied, he has no integrity and I disagree w his chances at winning again. I think he realizes he can’t win so he throws his narcissist hat into the ring

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  • Alex Reed July 29, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    This makes me breathe a bit of a sigh of relief. I don’t think Sam has done a horrible job, but I don’t think he’s done a great one either. Portland needs better.

    Not a total sigh of relief though – I’m not sold on either current candidate.

    I’m hoping that more strong candidates join the race – I would love for Jefferson Smith to run; I’ve heard (OPB story?) that some unions are courting him.

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  • Joe Adamski July 29, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    I would not dismiss Hales as a champion of bikes. But I would caution Hales to speak in code, and not be in-your-face about bikes. Bike and encouraging infrastructure have become a Lars rant about what is wrong about Portland. While Lars talks like an idiot, he knows its good ratings to pander to the car v. bike narrative. And waving a bike flag up front would be like pouring gas on a fire.
    As far as Adams, my sense is we won’t realize his capabilities until he’s gone. While a complex and flawed guy, he certainly had a good run and gave it his best. Governance is like herding cats. Done properly, it looks easy, but few can do it properly. My only disappointment regarding Sam has been his well noted flaw: succumbing to desire and then lying about it. If your desire is money, that’s understandable. Sex is another story.

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    • peejay July 30, 2011 at 4:30 am

      Really? Why is sexual desire less understandable than desire for money?

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      • was carless July 30, 2011 at 3:00 pm

        That’s what the Internet is for.

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  • Hart Noecker July 30, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Sam Adams has devoted his career to this city, and that he has chosen to step down should prove that to everyone.

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  • Duncan July 30, 2011 at 8:19 am

    I am glad that Sam Adams isnt running again. I feel like he could not have one, but he would have split the progressive vote and allowed the “Downtown Business Candidate”. He has not done a terrible job as mayor, but as the father of a child there is no way I could vote for him (again) knowing what he did.

    My concern with Dales is her use of the passive voice involving the Eileen Lukart case

    She really doesn’t come across as someone who does something- sure she says “wow that is terrible” but I want the person who gets in the fight because settling with the person who was struck by a vehicle owned by your business is the right thing to do. If she couldn’t get her company to do right by one bicyclist, what sort of leadership will she have getting the city to do right by it’s least advantaged citizens? Generally the Mayor’s office is where the powerful install the person they want to protect their interests, while it should be is where The People put the person who will protect them from those interests. One article does not a person make, but I will be looking at her for signs she can be the kind of assertive leader that Portland needs.

    On the meta level- we in Portland are fools- so often we get into between communities- bikers vs North Portland natives for example, when we should realize that the real money in this town would be happy if all our homes were razed and turned into high rises and we all had to live 20 miles away. Everyone who wants Portland to be a place where people live, who want livability to continue to improve, who want a city that will endure beyond the next ten years, beyond the end of cheap oil need to make sure our next Mayor will make the right decisions to lead us in that direction. We should not be swayed by sweet words, soundbites or a pretty face (as we have been in the past), but rather by determining the individual candidates positions on the real issues at hand. The thing about Democracy is we have only ourselves to blame for our leadership.

    Sorry to run on here.

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  • Dan O July 30, 2011 at 11:29 am

    My reaction is “so what?” An advocate mayor is pretty cool (thanks for that, Sam :-), but Portland is on its way, the genie is out of the bottle.

    (Was also pretty cool to see bikeportland comments on KATU last night 🙂

    I’ve never understood desire for money, myself, whereas what’s not to understand about sexual desire 😉

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  • Dan O July 30, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I’m not a PDX citizen myself, but as an Oregon bicyclist have a vested interest.

    If things start to go bad, Earl can come back from DC and lean on whoever he needs to.

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  • Dan O July 30, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    (To qualify my “vested interest”, I’m a perennial top 10 individual rider in the BTA’s September BCC.)

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    • Dabby August 1, 2011 at 10:01 am

      No one is handing ou tbrownie buttons dude.

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  • Benjamin Kerensa July 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I’m happy to see Sam go… We need solid leadership and perhaps even a city council shakeup would help. We need leadership that will sort of the PPB shootings, undeveloped roads, local business, livability etc.

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  • bikeR July 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    He has been good for alternative transportation. He did a great job as Vera’s chief of staff and a good job heading Transportation. I thank him for his efforts. He has plenty of good working years ahead. I hope he continues to find ways to support Portland and the Oregon.

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  • Mindful Cyclist July 30, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    A little bit of a mixed reaction. While I was upset with the sex scandal, I didn’t think it warranted the recall.

    I think he has done a good job for cycling in this town for the most part and even took a lot of heat for some of it. Still, he stuck to it.

    And, I did like how he decided to take over the PPB after all the officer involved shootings.

    Still, it is just him. He seems to lack tact and I think that really affects how good of leader he can be.

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  • jim July 31, 2011 at 9:51 am

    I had a good talk with Hales yesterday, he listens and agreeded with what I had to say about Sam. Sams spending priorities are upside down. We should be taking care of basic necessities before spending big money on pet projects. Some things will cost 10 times more to fix now since they have been neglected. I think Hales will be a better holder of the city wallet. I wonder how much more Sam will try and spend before he leaves office? What does he stand to lose?
    Maybe we can erect a gold statue of Sam in the restroom of cityhall

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  • mmann July 31, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    My thoughts? As a mayor, I don’t think Sam Adams has done a bad job. But his constant attention – which I think has fortunately waned of late – to how his message “plays,” makes it hard to know where he really stands at times. And honestly, as a native and someone who loves Portland, I think we can do (and have done) better. The names mentioned will, I think, make this next election a good one, and the recent news that Jefferson Smith may toss his hat in the ring means an even stronger pool to choose from.

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  • Dude August 1, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Sam adams committed fraud to get re-elected, lying about something he knew would affect his election prospects to get votes. That’s fundamentally dishonest and a disgrace to democracy. Someone like that does not belong in public office, regardless of his politics. Good riddance.

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  • Dude August 1, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Sams plan 2 years ago to make a roaring economy in Portland was to make the city real pretty, lots of bells and whistles to attract everybody to relocate to Portland. That was a huge risk with Portlands money. In the end it failed to revitalize jobs in Portland. I wish he was leaving tomorrow instead of at the end of his term.

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  • Joe August 1, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    I don’t like Sam as a person, but I do like him as Mayor. While it would be nice to have someone who I like and gets the job done, I’ll settle for someone who gets the job done. I’m not excited about recycled politicians, but I’m hopeful for a fresh city council.

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  • The Snapper August 2, 2011 at 9:28 am

    You bikers don’t realize how good you’ve had it with Sam. Sam’s former Chief of Staff Tom Miller is a former BTA board member and an in-your-face True Believer when it comes to bikes and alternative transportation. And now he’s director of PBOT! And Sam’s transportation director Catherine Ciarlo happens to be the best leader the BTA has ever had. We’ve never had a mayor that has had True Believers in such lofty positions. The bar has been raised.

    But we won’t do too badly with either Hales or Brady. I know Brady used to be a regular bike commuter when she worked at Ecotrust (rode from Mt. Tabor to the Pearl). And I remember when Hales was a city commissioner he rode Critical Mass incognito to observe anti-bike police thuggery first hand. Helluva move. Things changed after that.

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