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Does Jefferson Smith’s driving record, license suspensions matter to you?

Posted by on August 16th, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Mayoral Candidate Jefferson Smith ride-12

(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregonian’s City Hall reporter Beth Slovic just published a new story about mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith’s driving record. According to Slovic, who peered into Smith’s personal driving records with his permission, Smith’s license has been suspended a total of four times since 2004:

“State Rep. Jefferson Smith, a candidate for Portland mayor, acknowledged shortly after jumping into the mayor’s race that his driver’s license had been suspended in 2004.

But newly obtained records from Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services show Smith received three additional suspensions, including one as recently as 2010.

On Jan. 12, 2010, records show that police in Woodburn cited Smith, then running for his second term in the Oregon House, for the improper display of stickers and failure to show proof of insurance. His license was suspended May 14, 2010, and Smith failed to have it reinstated until eight months later, in January 2011.”

Smith told Slovic he didn’t fess up to the other suspensions and violations because he admits his record is “embarrassing.”

Interestingly, during an interview on Twitter in June with local bike activist and journalist Elly Blue, Smith did acknowledge being pulled over after 2004. In that interview, Smith admitted that he had been pulled over in 2009 (although he didn’t remember exactly if that was the year). He told Blue that he was careless in getting the various moving violations and that he simply didn’t have the money to pay the fines.

Smith is an Oregon state representative who works in Salem and lives in east Portland; which leads many people to wonder how much driving he did on a suspended license.

Transportation activists have been a strong base of support for Smith. He earned the endorsement of Bike Walk Vote back in February and has called for a “senior-friendly” transportation network that’s safe for the “8-80” demographic. Will his record of suspensions turn off a key part of the Portland electorate? Or will most people see this as simply a trivial personality flaw that doesn’t reflect on his ability to lead?

What do you think? Does a candidates’ ability to drive a car without violating the law, and then continue to drive while the state has determined he is unfit to do so, matter to you?

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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

  • Nick August 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    He seems like an ADHD posterchild, which makes sense, since he openly admits to having ADHD. He clearly is a bit chaotic, but I agree with most of his views to the point where I don’t mind. I might even admire it a little bit; most politicians are so boring. Thankfully, mayors have plenty of staff to take care of accounting and things like that.

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    • q`Tzal August 16, 2012 at 10:08 pm

      Assistants, schedules and list can go a long way to mitigating ADHD.
      Drugs and a patient partner help too:)

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    • Paul Laak August 17, 2012 at 1:20 am

      He seems like a liar and someone who can not be trusted!

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      • Spiffy August 17, 2012 at 7:59 am

        I agree, he does seem like a politician…

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        • q`Tzal August 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm

          Shouldn’t that be a bad thing?
          Perhaps the disappointing thing here is that he wasn’t a better liar; he was caught, wasn’t he?

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      • Eric August 17, 2012 at 8:13 am

        Perfect replacement for Sam Adams!

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      • Gregg August 17, 2012 at 6:44 pm

        It is too bad to read the latest about Jefferson Smith’s driving record. I’m still voting for him- because of his work as State Rep, his work at the Bus Project, and his stance against the CRC.

        I’m also voting AGAINST Charley Hales, because of Charley’s tax evading claim to live in WA (Committing Voter Fraud), his quitting mid-term as a City Council Rep (A la Sara Pailin) to take a big paying lobby job, his lying about helping out with the PPS contracts, and his wishy-washy support for the CRC.

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        • joe biel August 19, 2012 at 5:05 pm

          Being in the company of this guy for an hour convinced me years ago to avoid him at all costs. It was so disappointing to see people fall for his schtick.

          He has been very good with his smoke and mirrors and not mincing words about the CRC while Charlie is in a more politically vulnerable situation on the matter, merely saying that it won’t get built as proposed. He’s taking a nuanced stance. It doesn’t mean he endorses the project.

          The only reason Bike Walk Vote endorsed Smith is because of his CRC stance. The guy doesn’t know jack about planning or transportation.

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        • rwallis August 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm

          Right on sir!

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    • Joe August 17, 2012 at 7:15 am

      Hmmmm….do I want my mayor to run the city if he acts ADHD-ish? Probably not. I guess that’s why I’m voting for Hales.

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      • Sarah August 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm

        I am deeply offended by this prejudiced remark. A person with ADHD, like myself, is fully capable of running the city. As q’Tzal pointed out there are many things a person can do to mitigate their disability, whether it’s finding the right support staff or developing cognitive tools and strategies to make sure the task is done well. Please don’t hate on the 20% of Americans living with a disability by telling us we can’t do something.

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  • Jason S. August 16, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I don’t care. I care more about what he did in the legislature and with the Oregon Bus Project, and otherwise in the community.

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    • joe biel August 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm

      What were those things, exactly?

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    • matthew vilhauer August 20, 2012 at 8:54 am

      will you care if he runs over a pedestrian or cyclist while doing 40mph in a 25mph zone without insurance?

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      • Tony Fuentes August 20, 2012 at 4:09 pm

        will you care if he gets an injured kitten, puppy or child to the hospital in the nick of time thanks to doing 40mph in a 25mph zone without insurance?

        I don’t think he did either of these things, so I guess we can drop

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  • Ted Buehler August 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    “police … cited Smith… for the improper display of stickers and failure to show proof of insurance.”

    No, it will not affect my evaluation of him as a candidate.

    These are the things I would have concerns with —
    * Driving 30 mph over the speed limit.
    * Driving drunk.
    * Running red lights.
    * or otherwise endangering the safety of others.

    (BTW, in my observations of the folks I’ve gotten rides with over the years, very safest drivers out there are the ones driving without a license, without insurance, or without registration ;^)

    Ted Buehler

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    • Jake August 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      Yep. Slovic is using a rather poor (albeit correct) term in “suspended license” to lump Smith into a large group of people who got there for different reasons. Not really her fault, but something that one has to look out for. Safety violations concern me, stickers and technicalities do not. It’s like if people lumped all cyclists into one giant clan of scofflaws because one cyclist runs a stop sign …

      … wait, d’oh!

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      • Chris Tuttle August 17, 2012 at 9:55 am

        I agree that the way the Oregonian article is positioned makes his record sound a lot worse than it appears to be on closer inspection. When I hear that someone has a suspended license, I immediately thinking about speeding, recklessness, DUIs, etc. Perhaps the headline and emphasis should be that Jefferson is careless about updating his vehicle registrations and keeping his auto insurance current. On the other hand, the things he has done mildly suggest that he might not be on top of the small details.

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        • matt picio August 18, 2012 at 9:52 pm

          That part doesn’t bother me – as others have mentioned, he’ll have staff to catch the small details. I want my mayor to be looking at big-picture stuff, and creating a culture of public involvement from the top-down, not focusing on every single little detail of his department and the city and micromanaging the things he’s hired subordinates to do – otherwise why does a mayor need staff in the first place?

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    • Bjorn August 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm

      I still think that Smith is a great choice above Hales, but the data does not bear out what you are saying. Unlicensed and uninsured drivers kill other road users at a much higher rate than their licensed and insured counterparts. A perfect example of this is the first portland Bikesummer, the man who killed Orion and Angela was a repeat offender with no insurance and no license.

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      • Bjorn August 16, 2012 at 11:11 pm

        That said I hope that Smith will come out and be transparent and let us know that his suspension was not due to serious traffic infractions.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 16, 2012 at 11:14 pm

          From what’s been reported and from what Jeff himself has said in interviews, there are no serious infractions. He has never, he says, driven while intoxicated or injured anyone while driving. His tickets have been for moving violations and nothing serious.

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          • wsbob August 17, 2012 at 12:55 am

            “…His tickets have been for moving violations and nothing serious.” Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

            Moving violations are serious. They are road use behavior while operating a vehicle, that represent a danger to other road users, and/or to the operator themselves. That people committing them don’t always injure or kill someone, doesn’t cancel their seriousness of committing them.

            From ehow:

            “…Moving violations include, but are not limited to, speeding, running a stop sign or red light, not stopping for a school bus or pedestrian and crossing the center line of the street. …”

            That would logically, include also, such things as, failing to signal turns, distracted driving; cell phone use, etc, failing to yield to a someone on a bike in a bike lane…and so on. Moving violations are a heated topic here at bikeportland given that people traveling by bike are a primary vulnerable road user susceptible to mishaps occurring from moving violations.

            Jefferson Smith having those four drivers license suspensions, some apparently arising from having committed moving violations, raises the question of what kind of driver this mayoral candidate is, and how whatever outlook he has toward road user competence and responsibility may bear on his helping to guide and set policy for the city in the area of transportation, in the position of mayor, if he were elected.

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            • Spiffy August 17, 2012 at 8:03 am

              running a stop sign? I think a lot of us would forgive him for things like that…

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              • Hugh Johnson August 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm

                This sounds hypocritical for a couple of reasons, first running a stop sign is pretty serious if you happened to be broadsided on your bicycle by him now wouldn’t it? Second, if this guy was a conservative you all would be demanding his head on a platter. Ah another day in Portlandia.

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    • Ted August 17, 2012 at 8:04 am

      This Ted agrees with that Ted. If I heard that he had endangered someone, I would be a lot more concerned.

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    • joe biel August 19, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      Not getting caught doing these things is not the same as having not done these things. This record is prolific and points to many more incidents.

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    • joe biel August 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      What about driving 40 miles over the speed limit?

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  • Tony Fuentes August 16, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    No it doesn’t matter to me.

    What matters to me is that Smith has picked up the baton for economic gardening when the city passed on that initiative in 2008, the city has come around to it since.

    It matters to me that Smith was the only candidate addressing education with concrete proposal to deal with the summer gap via Portland Summers. Now that the election is less than 100 days away, we finally have a no-win proposal from another candidate.

    It matters to me that Smith has been a vocal and consistent opponent of the proposed CRC.

    Hales and Smith are not the same on the core policies and issues that will define the future of Portland. I care about is who is ready to truly move this city forward, I don’t think being a blast from the past is the same as being ready to lead.

    Smith is who I want in the driver’s seat on the issues that matter to me.

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  • Matt August 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    The vast majority of us never get a suspended license, and Smith has had 4? If someone can’t drive within the law on a regular basis, then how are they going to run the city.

    The first comment above mentions his possible ADHD which has me more concerned. Some folks think we already have a mayor with ADHD, I don’t think we don’t need another. We need someone with a lazer-beam-like focus to move this city forward.

    I have supported Smith thus far because he has opposed the CRC, but this has me re-thinking.

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    • matt picio August 18, 2012 at 10:01 pm

      Good, it *should* have you re-thinking, because no *single* item should steer your vote. As for the rest, however… what does driving have to do with being mayor? There are people out there who run multi-million dollar organizations just fine who can’t balance their personal checkbook. There are people who can’t hold down a job who are fantastic volunteers. (and vice versa) If we were voting on Smith to head the Oregon DMV, then I’d be concerned about his driving record. Last I checked, though, owning a car or having a driver’s license aren’t prerequisites for office. Here’s the real questions – did he try to cover it up? No. He didn’t volunteer info in advance, but what candidate does? Does he currently have a valid license? Apparently yes. Has he outright lied? Unclear – certainly he admits his record is poor. I’d call that not outright lying. So if he admits he has flaws, and those flaws aren’t prerequisites for the job, and he’s currently legal – then what’s the issue? To me, it seems a non-issue.

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  • are August 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    we do not learn what the 2004 suspension was for, and this does matter. also, yes, i am very disturbed to hear that he was driving uninsured. and ted, your anecdotal observations notwithstanding, (a) there are a hell of a lot of people out there driving suspended and without insurance _because they are very poor drivers_, and (b) i do not care how “safe” a driver you are, when you hit me i would appreciate it if you had insurance, if only to cover the first $25k in harm, because hey, i cannot get UM/UIM coverage.

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    • are August 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      but does that mean i will vote for mitt romney? no.

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    • Ted Buehler August 16, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      are wrote
      “yes, i am very disturbed to hear that he was driving uninsured.”

      Note that “failure to show proof of insurance” doesn’t mean he was uninsured. It could just mean he never got around to putting his latest insurance cards in the glove box.

      “there are a hell of a lot of people out there driving suspended and without insurance _because they are very poor drivers_”

      If he was indeed driving without insurance, then that’s an issue. But its still not the same as someone driving with a suspended license because of 3 DUIs. Not even similar.

      The evidence presented is unclear, but it appears he was street-legal in every way except that his tags and insurance paperwork were at home on his desk. (Like, wouldn’t he be charged with “uninsured operation of a vehicle” rather than “failure to show proof of insurance?”)

      &, FWIW, the two friends I was thinking of were in this same boat. 1) let his insurance lapse because he was short on cash, and 2) had a warrant out for an unresolved (minor, nondriving) issue and chose not to try to renew his drivers license. Both of these guys are probably average drivers, but under the above circumstances they became exceptionally good drivers, always under the speed limit, always looking carefully for pedestrians, and generally driving quite a bit less than they would otherwise.

      Ted Buehler

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      • are August 17, 2012 at 9:10 pm

        failure to show proof is what you get at the scene unless they have evidence to the contrary. i want to hear what the 2004 suspension was for.

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  • 2wo Wheel August 16, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Stick a fork in him and turn him over…

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  • Sean G August 16, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I think this is about the civic responsibility equal of living in Washington to avoid paying taxes in Oregon. Is it a great thing for Smith? Of course not, he’s clearly a scofflaw in this area. However is it going to change my vote? Not at all. Smith isn’t perfect, but in the areas where it counts he’s miles ahead of Hales. He’ll get the community involved and have bold ideas for moving Portland forward.

    The great thing about this coming election is, despite who wins we’ll have a great mayor. Unlike most elections, it’s the choice of the greater of two goods.

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  • Rol August 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    If I care about Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s automotive transgressions (like DUI) then I’d be a hypocrite to let Smith off the hook.

    If he works in Salem I expect him to move to Salem. And bike to work. If he does that, I’ll vote for him.

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    • Thomas Le Ngo August 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      Rol: That’s impossible. State legislators work both in Salem and their home districts.

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      • Rol August 16, 2012 at 8:13 pm

        OK I’ll modify the offer. When the legislature’s not in session, he lives at home and rides a bike. He hires a driver to shuttle between Portland & Salem. That’s enough to get my vote. If he lives in a hotel in Salem when the legislature’s in session, and rides a bike there too, I’ll not only vote for him but proclaim far and wide that everyone else should too.

        sweetening the deal

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  • Champs August 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    If it’s the difference between building a bridge for Vancouver or not, then no. The race is still a referendum on the CRC, if you ask me.

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    • Matt August 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm


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  • Brandon Rhodes August 16, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    I personally don’t care if he’s a bad driver — though that *is* a bit embarrassing.

    But will others care? According to one scholar, Cotten Seiler, most Americans equate the ability to drive with citizenship and selfhood-assertion/formation.

    Here’s his reasoning. If the republic-self is one who is free to choose, then that person must be mobile… and therefore that person must be able to be free from locality and live above the land… in the space of flows rather than space of places. They must, in short, be able to drive. And that act of freedom-from-place that is driving is in turn a locus for self expression in consumer societies. (“I’m a chevy guy, a BMW gal, a Surly Long Haul Trucker kind of dude, etc.”).

    So, all that to say: for many Oregonians, Jefferson’s inability to drive responsibly may invoke this narrative and undercut his validity as a candidate or even voter.

    Dr. Seiler’s book is solid stuff… “Republic of Drivers” …

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  • pixelgate August 16, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Who cares? Why are all these silly non-stories popping up to divert from the real issues?

    Oregonian persist in electing ineffective leaders then wonder why the state is in shambles. With Jefferson we truly have a man of the people, and the kneejerk reaction is to question whether or not “improper display of stickers” should end his campaign?

    Get f’ing real.

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  • wsbob August 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Smith had his driver’s license suspended…four times…and people posting comments to this thread do not seem to express any particular interest in why he received the two unexplained suspensions. From the Oregonian story:

    “…The records also show Smith’s license was suspended in March 2004 — something he acknowledged in September after announcing his mayoral bid. It’s not clear from the records what led up to that suspension.

    The records also show Smith got two separate suspensions on July 9, 2004, and July 15, 2004, because Smith had racked up more than four driving tickets or preventable accidents within a 24-month period.

    It’s not clear what specifically led to those suspensions either, however; the records go back only to 2004 because minor convictions are purged after several years, said David House, a DMV spokesman. “There must be in the previous two years other tickets,” he said. …” slovic/oregonian

    Notice in that excerpt: “…because Smith had racked up more than four driving tickets or preventable accidents within a 24-month period. …”. Nobody here is interested in what he was cited for, or what his involvement in the incidents that prompted the citations may say about his competence as the responsible operator of a motor vehicle, an in general, as a person?

    Here in the comments section of bikeportland stories, can be read regularly, impassioned concern expressed over people behind the wheel of motor vehicles, making all manner of moving violations that pose a danger to road users, particularly those traveling by bike. Yet when the possibility is that Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith may a prime example of one of those types of people behind the wheel of a motor vehicle…it seems that quite a number of people commenting to bikeportland may be willing to give him a pass on what may…if the details about the moving violations he was cited for do come to light…turn out to be a rather dismal level of ability as a motor vehicle operator.

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    • Paul Cone August 16, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      Let’s not forget all the people who are being disenfranchised across the nation right now because they don’t have photo ID, e.g. a driver’s license.

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    • spare_wheel August 17, 2012 at 9:03 am

      as a cyclist i witness motorists breaking traffic statutes on a routine basis. i **expect** motorists to have moving violations. the fact that smith seems to be unlucky and possibly a bad driver is simply not interesting to me. moreover, the fact that this reporting came from a right-wing rag 100% owned by eccentric new york millionaires makes me even less interested. i have no respect for the integrity of the oregonian as an institution.

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      • Paul Cone August 17, 2012 at 9:06 am

        It is much easier to do reporting that involves asking simple questions and looking through driving records than reporting that involves asking hard questions and relaying an understanding of complex issues.

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    • wsbob August 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      Thanks to Chrissy, commenting here to bikeportland,

      …we have information she picked up from Bojack’s blog about the nature of the moving violations Jefferson Smith received…two for excessive speed (52 in a 35 zone, and 40 in a 20 zone.), and one for an illegal lane change. Speeding and illegal lane changes are serious violations, and depending on the circumstances, they can have very serious consequences for other road users.

      Double the 20 mph limit is a lot, especially considering types of places that limit tends to be posted. Speeds such as 17 mph over a 35 is also way excessive, and tends to have dramatically negative consequences for road user safety and on area livability. Any speed 5 mph over posted tends to be a problem.

      Moving violations and what the mayor of a major city such such as Portland may be prepared to do in response to factors contributing to their occurrence is a significant issue. The situation, for whatever reason it exists to the degree it does, with the high rate of collisions occurring over on Broadway-Wheeler-Flint, is an example of a test for a mayor.

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  • Jimmy August 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    My policy is to vote for the least wealthy candidate.

    This is certainly off-putting but it does not bother me as much as Hales’ high net worth, residence in Washington (to dodge taxes?), and the fact that he quit the council mid-term to take a high paying job.

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    • Hugh Johnson August 16, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      That sounds classist.

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      • spare_wheel August 17, 2012 at 8:33 am

        We live in a society where one class has been waging economic war on other classes and winning.

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    • joe biel August 19, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      It was a stipulation of Charlie’s divorce that he had to pay for his three sons through college. That’s why he quit mid-term for the Street Car job. He got re-married and moved in with his wife in Washington. You can paint these details however you like. But I did real reporting to learn this.

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  • R-dat August 16, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Bothers me. Speaks to character and one’s appreciation for law, right and wrong, and the safety of others. Anyone can get a ticket or citation anytime (in a car or on a bike) but repeated citations severe enough to result in license suspension suggests a inherent lack of appreciation for other people’s safety and / or the rules. Not the character traits I wish to have running Portland.

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    • Kristi Finney-Dunn August 17, 2012 at 12:00 am

      I agree. I also agree with wsbob’s comment. What, someone’s driving is an issue only when it doesn’t interfere with something else? Hmmm, I like his politics so I’ll put aside the fact that he doesn’t care about the rules or the safety of others? Oh, a suspended license is no big thing in the grand scheme of things; what’s the likelihood that this particular person would actually hurt or injure someone? (Unfair and judgmental, possibly, but I find it highly unlikely that Smith has not been driving).

      So, Smith didn’t “fess up” previously because his driving record is “embarrassing.” Here are some other drivers with suspended licenses who were probably embarrassed, too, who have been written about previously in bikeportland, and no one commenting about them then were as nonchalant about their illegal behavior as what I’m seeing here: Kirk Hanna (injured Robert Skof ’10), Antonio Cellestine (killed Gordon Patterson ’09), Jacob Croall (killed Thomas Mossman ’11), Jennifer Knight (killed Timothy O’Donnell ’07). These husbands and fathers and sons would still be alive or uninjured if someone who thought they were above the law had not been behind the wheel.

      And here are some stats:

      Frankly, most of the attitudes I’m reading here really p*** me off. My son Dustin Finney wasn’t killed by an unlicensed driver, but if he’d been killed by a popular politician or an athlete or whomever was in favor at the moment, would I have read comments such as these: “It WAS his first DUII” or “He didn’t MEAN to do it” or “The good he does/can do for the many is more important than the injury he did to the one”?

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      • matt picio August 18, 2012 at 10:20 pm

        “The good he does/can do for the many is more important than the injury he did to the one?”

        That’s an age-old debate which people have never been able to agree on. The other question is “Does it matter why he broke the law?” At the moment, it sounds like no one knows for sure what the violations were or how they happened. But to address your argument directly, I have a question for you – do the actions of the past negate everything in the present? Smith is apparently currently driving legally, and has since sometime in 2011. I’m not saying that his record shouldn’t be examined, nor that it should be ignored – they should. If he’s deliberately hiding something, that absolutely speaks to his qualifications as mayor. If not, then mostly it argues he shouldn’t drive.

        Rather than a discussion about a mayoral candidate’s driving record, I’d like to see a discussion about how to prevent suspended individuals from driving and tightening the licensing requirements so that licenses are more difficult to obtain and easier to lose.

        That’s not meant in any way to dismiss your concerns, Kristi. I’m going to vote for Jefferson Smith, because I believe he’d be the better mayor – but I’d also vote for taking his license away if he is unsafe on the road or considers himself above the law. Dangerous drivers need to addressed.

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        • wsbob August 19, 2012 at 12:20 am

          “…Rather than a discussion about a mayoral candidate’s driving record, I’d like to see a discussion about how to prevent suspended individuals from driving and tightening the licensing requirements so that licenses are more difficult to obtain and easier to lose. …” matt picio

          Whatever kind of personal reasoning and judgement that Jefferson Smith used to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle while his license was suspended, would likely fall within the range of such a discussion. As a matter related to maintaining and improving the safety of traveling Portland’s streets, any viewpoints and ideas Smith may have about preventing people with suspended licenses from driving, might be worth hearing.

          Friday the 17th, the O published another Q&A interview with Smith, by the O’s reporter Beth Slovic, in which she asks him more questions about disclosures he’s made related to his driving record. It provides an example of his preparedness to answer questions about this subject:

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        • matt picio August 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm

          Now that Smith’s record is out, I have a final remark.

          Jefferson Smith shows a history of speeding and neglecting the administrative details attendent with car ownership and maintaining a license. On that basis, my personal belief is he should not be driving. As for his campaign for mayor, clearly the details indicate there are serious issues that one should consider before endorsing or voting for him.

          For me, at this moment, the main issue is which imperfect candidate in the runoff is the better one – and for me that choice is even less clear than it was before.

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  • David Sweet August 16, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    I am concerned about what I see as a pattern of irresponsible behavior. If it were just a drivers license suspension, or just a state bar suspension, or a punch in a basketball game, or getting thrown out of a soccer league…. but it’s all of these and more. I learned decades ago that when hiring staff, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. When a person has a long record of apparent immaturity, continuing to the present day, one has to ask if that person should be chosen to lead this city.

    I too agree with many of Jefferson’s positions on the issues. If we were electing a legislator, I might even vote for him. But in Portland’s commission form of government, the mayor is also the top manager of a very large and complex organization. The mayor doesn’t only vote on issues. He or she also manages agencies, including the Police Bureau, assigns other bureaus to colleagues, and works to forge the City Council into a highly functional whole.

    We have seen how ineffective it is to have a mayor who does not command the respect of his colleagues, who responds emotionally and perhaps vindictively. We need someone with experience and the demonstrated ability to engender respect and work well as part of a team. Jefferson may develop these abilities someday. This time, I’m with Charlie.

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    • Paul Cone August 16, 2012 at 10:27 pm

      I suppose if the police you speak of felt that way their union would not have endorsed them.

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      • Ted August 20, 2012 at 10:27 am

        That does not follow. I imagine the police have much to gain from a weak mayor who cannot provide the tough leadership and oversight that could bring changes to the bureau. They would want the weaker candidate.

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  • Ted Buehler August 16, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    wsbob — good comments.

    I just gave it a quick read before commenting. It does appear that Smith may have something to hide, since he only disclosed one of 4 suspensions, and said he had a bad driving record.

    That does sound a lot more like speeding, driving recklessly, maybe DUIs, etc., because otherwise he would probably tell us what it was.

    Still, for me, I’d probably vote for him even if he had a couple DUIs, because I more interested in policy going forward rather than accountability of the past. But it would certainly be more of an issue than not bothering to put his tags on his car or his insurance cards in the glove box.

    But, if he fudges repeatedly and fails to tell us the story, then it’s a mark against him.

    & even so, Hales isn’t all that snow-white either, with his dual residency of convenience and good ‘ol boy politics. & while that doesn’t represent direct personal endangerment of others, it certainly represents endangerment. Like — I’d be more likely to vote for a repentant DUI recipient than a guy that wants to aim 10,000 more cars on Interstate/MLK (by building the CRC) that could easily turn me into roadkill.

    Ted Buehler

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    • David Sweet August 16, 2012 at 9:40 pm


      C’mon–it’s no more true that Charlie wants to build the CRC than that Jefferson, as mayor, could singlehandedly stop it.


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      • Ted Buehler August 17, 2012 at 12:43 am

        David —
        We’re much more likely to stop the CRC with a mayor who is opposed to it than a mayor in favor of it.

        Stopping it will take a few serious opponents and a bunch of serious foot-draggers. We have the foot-draggers, but we don’t have any serious opponents in office.

        My $0.02
        Ted Buehler

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        • David Sweet August 17, 2012 at 8:32 am


          It’s a good thing then that neither of the candidates for mayor is in favor of the CRC.


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  • thefuture August 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    ever since the o endorsed charlie hales i can’t see any of their coverage as non biased. even in this case when it is a fair issue to bring up. never got why newspapers endorse candidates.

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    • Gregg August 17, 2012 at 6:28 pm

      Not surprising. They also endorsed Bush.

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    • joe biel August 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm

      Much like how BikePortland has an obvious pro-Smith bias…

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 19, 2012 at 10:32 pm

        Woah joe,

        What makes you say that?

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        • joe biel August 20, 2012 at 11:45 am

          The nature, tone, balance, and volume of the reporting between the two candidates. Even the Oregonian shredded Charlie a handful of times before throwing in their endorsement.

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          • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 20, 2012 at 1:05 pm


            I disagree completely.

            I think I’ve reported on both of them pretty equally. I cannot help it if Charlie has made more negative news around my topic than Jefferson has. I report on what they do and say.. If one candidate says and does more stuff that I feel is newsworthy, than you will read about them more often on BikePortland. If that stuff happens to be bad/negative stuff, than that’s what you’ll read… But that doesn’t mean I am giving either one different treatment.

            Hopefully that makes sense.

            I take accusations like this very seriously, especially when they come from people I respect like you.

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            • joe biel August 21, 2012 at 6:32 am

              It just occurred to me that the reason you don’t understand Charlie is because you didn’t live here yet when he was in office. He continued Earl’s legacy and was getting edge on the bike and active transportation system. He challenged the police on their lopsided bicycle enforcement in 2001, when it was still a fringe movement and getting bad press. While his campaign has been a bit bumbling, your absolute lack of reporting on Charlie’s actual actions around bicycling are what bewilders me the most and demonstrate your bias. And it makes sense now to realize you didn’t live here then, when Charlie was the hero after Earl moved on.

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            • joe biel August 21, 2012 at 6:38 am

              And thank you for the compliment. I bring these things up because I respect you as well.

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  • c August 16, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Why is it that our next mayor is going to be so imperfect (no matter who gets elected)?

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  • Jim Lee August 16, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    When I ran in 2008 I had none of Smith’s baggage.

    Also a whole lot smarter.

    Also no car, only fixies.

    Also more knowledgeable about city government.

    How many of you guys voted for me?

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    • dan August 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm

      Was going to vote for you until I found out you only ride fixies — my mayor needs to understand about using the best approach for each situation, not trying to steamroll every situation with the one approach he’s (or she) has allowed him/herself.

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  • jd August 16, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Lovely. Someone from Vancouver, versus someone who probably drives three hours a day at especially dangerous speed as mayor and is somehow way less responsible than I am with his bills as mayor of Portland. I’m certainly more apathetic than I was ten minutes ago. But I’m still voting. I guess for Smith? Yay?

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  • ConcordiaCyclist August 16, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Based on my own experiences I’d hold the pitchforks before making any assumptions on this. Back in the day when I was working 70 hour weeks I missed my tag renewal notice and got hit with a ticket for expired tags. I paid the bill at the court house and figured that was it. One and a half years later I was pulled over for a shorted out tail light and my car towed away because I had a suspended license I was unaware of. Apparently there was a $15 dollar administrative charge missed by the court clerk on the original ticket that went unpaid. License was suspended – I was never notified. And neither was my insurance company. So I drove for 18 months with a suspended license WITH insurance.

    Bureaucracy happens.

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  • q`Tzal August 16, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    I managed to get a suspension after a ticket, not because of the ticket but due to my insurance provider failing to file the processed ticked with the DMV within 90 days.
    License suspension does not uniformly indicate driver error.

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  • Brendan Purkapile August 17, 2012 at 12:30 am

    If you can’t run your own life, you can’t run a city. If you want to run a city, but choose not to pay your fair share you should’t be able to represent that city. Both candidates have issues that average people would never be able to get away with, so we should make them squirm for their transgressions, make them strive to do better from a little public shame

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  • Hart Noecker August 17, 2012 at 12:53 am

    I got several tickets for driving with expired tags/no insurance back when I lived in Michigan, and the tickets ended up being cheaper than paying the ridiculous fees and insurance, I never had a moving violation for careless or reckless driving. All of it motivated me to get rid of my car and commute via bicycle and public transit. Way cheaper, way greener, and way smarter. Whether Jefferson failed to keep up on these things matters little to me, it’s a personal matter, and does not reflect upon him as a leader and a representative in our community.

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    • Chris I August 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      “Ridiculous insurance”? What the hell? Do you not understand why drivers are required to carry insurance? What happens if you get creamed on your bike by an uninsured driver?

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  • Granpa August 17, 2012 at 7:59 am

    A hypocrite in politics!? I am shocked, SHOCKED I say.

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  • Jon August 17, 2012 at 8:47 am

    This and a lot the other behavior mentioned in the other posts above makes me concerned about his maturity level and ability to cope in stressful situations. The poor behavior of our current mayor (relationship with a minor, personal financial issues) undermined his ability to lead the city. I don’t think we need another mayor that is not really ready. It is not really a “learn on the job” kind of positon. The Mayor of the largest city in our state is important and needs someone who is mature.

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  • Tom August 17, 2012 at 8:51 am

    I wonder how many other things in his past that he’s embarrassed to discuss ? Brings up images of current mayor and the revelations AFTER he was in office …

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  • David Feldman August 17, 2012 at 8:54 am

    So who’s perfect? The last decade or two have brought us enough media to unearth the dirty laundry of anyone in public life. As Nazi-like as my beliefs are about how drivers and driving should be regulated, Jefferson’s record seems on the mild side in terms of how politicians live their personal lives.

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  • Chrissy August 17, 2012 at 9:16 am

    According to, the tickets were for:

    1) Driving 52 in a 35 zone (2002). He then failed to appear in court.
    2) Driving on a suspended license (2004).
    3) Driving 40 in a 20 zone (2009). He also failed to appear in court.
    4) Illegal lane change on McLoughlin (2009). His father appeared in court on his behalf. He was convicted.

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    • Chris I August 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      52 in a 35 is probably the one that concerns me the most. 40 in a 20 is pretty easy to do if you don’t see the “school zone” sign. Many of the school zones are on roads with 35mph limits or higher, so many cars will cruise through at 40. Cops love those tickets.

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      • J-R August 20, 2012 at 10:53 am

        BS. 40 in a school zone should be an automatic license suspension. The fatality rate is many times higher at that speed. When driving a killing machine, I mean automobile, paying attention is job number ONE. If you can’t do that you should not be driving!

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    • Paul Cone August 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      I don’t see anywhere where it says 40 in a 20 mph school zone — I see people saying bojack said it and then others responding to it, but I don’t see the actual proof. It’s not in the complete list posted by the Mercury.

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  • Jessica Roberts August 17, 2012 at 9:32 am

    I generally am concerned about the character of people who are careless about the lives and safety of those around them. Bad driving can kill. So repeatedly demonstrating that you are a bad driver means that you are more likely than the average resident to kill someone in traffic through your negligence or recklessness.

    Imagine if the story way, “Jefferson Smith has repeatedly had gun violations” – I think we’d all agree that’s of concern. Well, to my mind, driving carelessly, or failing to carry adequate insurance, is the same as handling a weapon carelessly.

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  • Jeremy Cohen August 17, 2012 at 9:59 am

    One issue that seems relevant here is Smith’s ADHD. While the majority of comments surrounding ADHD on this site seem to treat it as an advanced form of immaturity, that is a fundamental misunderstanding of how the disorder manifests. I imagine a number of people would be shocked to find legitimate ADHD diagnoses in extremely successful, accomplished people (including Smith.) I have no doubt that Smith struggles, on a daily basis, to remember certain things that most people take for granted, but that should not be the measure of his ability to run this city. If the primary trait we were looking for in a mayor was strict adherence to schedules, well managed todo lists and perfect driving records, we would look to a well established bureaucrat. Instead, what we want is a LEADER, one with vision, passion and the ability to see the big picture. While the Mayor is in fact the manager of the city, he is staffed with top-level agency heads that were hired precisely for the traits Smith does not need to have. I am not excited about Smith’s driving record, but I also recognize that Smith has a legitimate ADA-recognized disability that would NOT hinder his ability to do the job I will vote for him to do. So, does his driving record trouble me, not really. Does the flippant and aloof, ignorant attitude about ADHD on this site trouble me–yes.

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    • Sarah August 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      THANK YOU! I too am troubled by the overt prejudice and stigmatization toward ADHD. I’m also troubled by how many people feel that he should be held to some unreasonably high standard of legal perfection. How many readers/commenters on this blog put their foot down at every stop sign? How many of us properly signal at every turn? How many of us have proper and legal lighting on our bikes at night? How many fixie riders have a front brake? How many of us yield to pedestrians everytime? How many of us yield to oncoming traffic even when they stop and invite us to turn left illegally? Nobody’s perfect. I’m sure just about everyone has broken the law at some point. By some of the logic I read on here, no one is fit for public office because everyone, at some point in time, exhibits actions that aren’t in line with their values and many of you, hypocritically I’m sure, find this unacceptable. What matters most to me are the big issues and the future of this city, which is why I’m only considering the political actions of each candidate when making my decision of who to vote for.

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      • are August 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm

        sarah is “troubled by how many people feel [smith] should be held to some unreasonably high standard of legal perfection.” possibly i am not among those falling into this category, but i will again suggest that expecting anyone, not just some political leader, but anyone operating an automobile to keep the tags current and much more especially to keep the liability coverage current (and, yes, a current insurance card in the glove box) is not setting an “unreasonably high standard,” and actually the standard in question is not merely “legal” but a matter of common social decency. if you hit me, i want the insurance info right now.

        i do not put my foot down at every stop because it is not required. in fact, i do not fully stop at every stop, which is technically required but not ethically or even rationally, and my reasons for engaging in this mild noncompliance actually have to do with self-preservation. a topic for another thread, someday.

        i do have “proper and legal lighting,” not only for my own safety, but as a matter of social responsibility. i do signal every turn and every lane change, when there is another road user present who could benefit from the information. my fixed gear bike does have a drag brake. i do yield to pedestrians “every time.” i try to refuse the profferred right of way unless it would be churlish to do so.

        however, yes, i have occasionally broken this or that traffic law, even while operating a car. but if i were running for public office, and there were anything i had done that would be of legitimate interest to the voting public, i would freely bring it forward and not evade the specifics.

        here, we have a pretty sorry pattern of noncompliance with some rather important laws regulating the use of dangerous machinery in public space.

        and we still do not know what was the subject of the 2004 suspension.

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  • J-R August 17, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Basically Smith lied about his driving record because it was embarrassing. I also disagree with those who give him a pass on his violations because they were not serious or dangerous. He also failed to renew his bar registration. It doesn’t seem that he has a high regard for society’s rules and can’t keep his own life in order.

    I think it is both a character issue and one of organizational ability that is needed to run this city. I was initially tempted by Smith because of vitality and charisma, but not anymore.

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    • Tony Fuentes August 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      I am all for people making their own decisions & choices based on the evidence this important to them however let’s be clear about this:

      Smith was truthful about his driving record, understandably embarrassed but honest.

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  • GlowBoy August 17, 2012 at 11:48 am

    I remember reading in some rag this spring that we were blessed with 3 excellent major candidates from which to choose. Ha! I think we had 3 highly flawed major candidates, and Jefferson Smith was the least flawed.

    If the multiple suspensions are because Jefferson is sometimes not a very detail-oriented guy, or maybe too easily distracted and/or forgetful (which might be consistent with his ADHD diagnosis), I don’t necessarily see that as hindering his ability to lead as mayor. A good leader is humble enough to recognize their weaknesses and HIRE people who can help make up for them. So far Smith has done the recognizing-the-weakness part, so I trust him to hire assistants and advisors who will complement him.

    More concerning could be his moving violations, especially since unlicensed drivers tend to be more dangerous: I’ve been hit by one myself, and have witnessed more than one crash caused by one. Unfortunately we don’t know the specific violations or the degree to which he willfully endangered others.

    We DO know that Charlie Hales deliberately chose one address for voting and one for filing taxes. IMO even if you’re lucky enough to multiple homes, you need to declare ONE as your primary residence and accept the implications. To me he’s done something even worse than driving without a license. Everyone seems to be worked up about this as an act of tax dodging. That bugs me, but the bigger problem I have with it is that it looks to me like one of the few documented acts of voter fraud in this country.

    As Tony Fuentes so eloquently pointed out above, this election isn’t just about character. There are issues at hand too, and there the choice is pretty clear to me. It is still possible that Smith will turn out to have done something egregious behind the wheel. If so, I’m going to have a serious voting dilemma on my hands.

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  • MossHops August 17, 2012 at 11:59 am

    4 times in 8 years? I can’t believe how many commentors are giving him a pass on this because they agree with his politics. 4 times is definitely a pattern. Furthermore he was less than straightforward on the initial disclosure and he is being very cagey about whether he was actually insured when he failed to show proof of insurance. Alsso ADHD doesn’t absolve him of this. There seems to be signs of moral failure in the suspension and subsequent handling of it.

    This should deeply concern all of us as the mayor definitely has a say as to how aggressively the police will pursue traffic violations.

    At the end of the day, I probably will still vote for him, but this is incredibly disheartening to hear and its not hard to see a definitive double standard with regards to how the Portland bike community is responding to this.

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    • Chris I August 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      The best political move for him might to be to announce that he is giving up driving for good. Imagine if he were to get around by Trimet and bike, campaigning along the way? It’s not like the wealthy republicans are going to vote for him anyway…

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      • Nat August 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm

        On twitter I suggested he likely drove while suspended considering the length of time to which his response was that he had no car. The idea that he instead biked or bussed everywhere was compelling but after learning one of the citations was for driving while suspended he’s lost my trust.

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  • BURR August 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    with a driving record like that, he should get a bike and go car-free

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  • Nat August 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    It’s difficult to believe that he was driving while suspended unintentionally. This offense is very much different than forgetting to put on tags or not noticing a school zone sign.

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    • Paul Cone August 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      Not necessarily — if he’s forgetful/neglectful about renewing registration, he could be equally forgetful/neglectful about opening a piece of mail that says his license is suspended.

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  • dwainedibbly August 17, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    I would let it bother me more if I thought that Hales was acceptable.

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  • Annee August 17, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    I’m more interested in his active transportation record – does he have the perspective of being a cyclist/pedestrian or only a motorist?

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  • Pete August 17, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Jefferson’s inattention to the traffic code, to his annual state bar fees, and to the finances of the Bus Project (according to Beth Slovic’s report in The Oregonian) may not matter much for a state legislator where good ideas count for more than attention to adminstrative rules and where individual bad judgement is diluted by the votes of others. As Mayor, adminstrative rules matter a whole lot more. The Mayor isn’t just the “idea guy,” he’s the primary administrator of a multimillion dollar enterprise. I’m not thrilled with Charlie, but Jefferson has a very steep hill to climb to get my vote.

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  • Steve B August 17, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    I’m definitely concerned by Smith’s driving record.

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  • bojack August 17, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    It’s not just his “driving record.” Smith was busted for driving while suspended, and he also blew off court dates for his traffic offenses. Bad behavior indeed from a lawyer.

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  • Doug Klotz August 17, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    As a alternative transportation activist in Portland for 25 years, I do not see Jefferson as having a very strong grounding in the issues. I agree with him on the CRC, and wish Charlie’s position were stronger. But I don’t see Jefferson understanding the essential land-use issues that, beyond individual sidewalks or bike facilities, really determine how people get around. If you have sprawling, single-use neighborhoods, you’ll never reach the goal of motor vehicle trips being the minority. On the other hand, if you permit and/or create incentives for density, specifically along Frequent Transit streets and commercial corridors, and specifically without auto parking requirements, chances are better you’ll reach the goal of reduced auto travel. I worked with Charlie on these issues for several years, when he was the Commissioner in charge of Planning. He understand the land use and transportation connection. I expect that Jefferson is studying up on these issues. But to me, right now, Charlie is the candidate who understands transportation in this race, understands the importance of reducing auto travel, and has experience in doing that.

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  • Vance Longwell August 18, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Of course Mayoral Candidate Smith’s driving record, license suspensions, “…matter to [me]…”. But I wanted to point out that the question, as posed, is super vague. For instance, Smith’s traffic infractions, they are all infractions, and not crimes yes?, “matter”, to me; but certainly not all that much. And they matter in as much as the records of these infractions are public. At that, I still find the observation rather more invasive than is warranted in the case of a Mayoral election; made even more-so by the relative innocuous nature of the violations being discussed.

    I’d be more interested in observing his political record, and then comparing it to his driving record. If, hypothetically, Smith voted for, helped author, or was involved in, traffic-safety legislation, or committee action concerning same, and subsequently exhibited aberrant driving behavior…? This hypothetical is clearly demonstrative of hypocrisy, but it also reveals a possible conflict of interest. Moreover, regardless of the relative seriousness of his lapses, Smith is fairly indicating via his actions a disdain for law and order in the community which he and I share. While the rules violated steam me, the inherent arrogance of even presuming the law(s) don’t apply to one individual, or another, at any given time, for any given reason, is infuriating. I’m sure that, given the opportunity, Smith would argue that his actual intentions may have been innocent, but all that really proves is ignorance.

    As to some of the comments, and their treatment of a man’s illness: Yeah, I, personally, don’t place much stock in pretty much the entire field of psychology, let alone bear any particular heed concerning ADHD, alas. This is a person’s misfortune, and regardless of the manifest form of that illness, it remains my responsibility to avoid treating Mr. Smith any differently. Acknowledged, diagnosed, medicated, ADHD=Non-issue.

    I’m not voting for Smith because I know, personally, too many customer-service professionals, of too many walks, employed in too wide a variety of markets, and under too many circumstances, which have complained to me that Smith is an incredibly difficult customer. I’m not voting for Smith because he lacks maturity, and professional poise. I’m not voting for Smith because I think these personality quirks will impede his ability to perform on a diplomatic level within the office he seeks. I think he’s a pretty hard fellow to like, let alone work with.

    I’m not voting for Hales because he feels to me like a tourist. Just another foreigner, with foreign agendas, and entirely too much political focus for a job that requires personal flair, and stylized leadership qualities. This guy’s a bureaucrat. Not to mention, more traffic, and parking congestion. More real estate development with inadequate parking. More money down the drain on go-nowhere environmental policy. And so on.

    Yeah, I’ll be writing myself in…again…

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  • jim August 18, 2012 at 11:11 am

    I am surprised to hear about this. I find the news rather disturbing. This shows a lack of character about Smith. I am having a hard time trying to decide which of the candidates will do the least damage to the city. I guess if we look past the real person of their aspects and look for what actual good they can do for Portland we will just have to put up with what ever. We sort of survived the pedophile mayor. Jobs are going away, Industrial neighborhoods are being gentrified into art neighborhoods, nobody knows where the city is spending their budget money anymore. They are like a crack whore that you give lots of money to all the time and at the end of the year they say it’s not enough and they want more….

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  • Jrdpdx August 19, 2012 at 7:02 am

    He drives poorly w out insurance or a license. He “can’t afford” to fix this. He does not tell the truth and his priorities are himself. He states he is ADHD, he has another likely diagnosis, narcissism. Similar to most politicians. I am less likely to vote for him as time goes on and we find out more about him.

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  • Tony Fuentes August 19, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    There are a number of themes on this thread but there are two threads that I am compelled to comment on.

    The first is implications that that Smith has been dishonest about his driving record. He has been honest about this matter.

    He did not make up any stories about this in talking to Slovic or any reporter (or any member of the public as far as I know). He was straightforward and embarrassed about it. Calling him a “liar” directly or equating this with Mayor Adams very real lie is unfounded and unfair.

    Second is implying that having ADD or ADHD makes you unfit for a leadership position. Simply put, I find this patently offensive. I am certain we all know someone who has this challenge and I applaud Smith’s willingness to put it out there that he (like 5 percent of the population) has ADHD.

    Moreover in this particular case we are talking about someone who dealt with this ADHD untreated for many years. And what did he do during that time? He earned a Law degree from Harvard, founded and managed a non-profit organization – The Bus Project – which has since grown beyond the borders of Oregon into other states, and he was elected and has served with distinction in the state legislature (two key things for me in that regard was Smith’s championing of grassroots economic development being an active voice in getting the state’s budget back in order and more efficient).

    He did all that BEFORE he figured out he had ADHD and started managing it. Now that he knows what’s up? Clearly, I am ready to see that encore.

    Here is my bottom-line on this, if you have a legitimate, well-reasoned concern about how someone’s crappy driving record equates directly to being an effective mayor, have at it. But please pause and reflect before you hit that “post your comment” button.

    It is really easy to use the mighty internet to call people names and perpetuate a bunch of bullshit about what people with ADHD can or can’t do… so lets do each other a favor and keep that nonsense off


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    • wsbob August 20, 2012 at 12:29 am

      With his campaign having turned over a list of his traffic violations and suspensions, and from Smith himself, answers to questions its writer put to him, and also, a lengthy comment posted to the comment section of the story, the Merc got a good response from Smith.

      His remarks are interesting, and seem sincere, but look at the list and consider how persistent is his inclination to drive in ways that land him citations indicating he’s been a dangerous road user. Based on citations he’s received for it, driving much faster than posted speed limits seems to be quite a problem. Citations also for improper left and right turns, failure to obey traffic control device, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle.

      Notice also, the entry on his driver’s record: “6/19/1995 – Improvement Letter – Step 1 driver improvement letter”, and the subsequent, related entries. I didn’t check into exactly what they imply, but guess it’s part of what Oregon has in place to try and get bad driver’s to correct their bad driving tendencies, I suppose…something like ORS 811.135 ‘Careless Driving’ provides for relative to people cited for driving in ways that endanger vulnerable road users.

      His driver’s record provided, shows his most recent cited moving violation was for March ’09 ‘Failure to obey traffic control device’…three years past. Hopefully, he’s working to get his driving habits on the road under control.

      This business with his driving record doesn’t necessarily mean he lacks the ability to resolve shortcomings in his nature that have made him a problem road user…to become a good mayor if he were elected. In his bid to become Portland Mayor, his nature, his sense of responsibility and good judgment is what the interest in his driving record is about. If Smith understands this, which some of his comments to the Merc indicate he may…and he consistently keeps alluding to and improving on that understanding in remarks to the public, when required to do so, at least the the driving record wouldn’t be the end of the chance to be elected.

      As contrary as it may sound to say so, he could possibly use his past driving record…and efforts he’s made to improve it, lessons he believes he’s learned from it, to help improve his chances of being elected; if he’s got the smarts, the disposition and the maturity to do that.

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  • GlowBoy August 20, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Thanks for the update and link, Paul. EVERYONE should read it. There are 11 moving violations since 1993. You have to be a really, really, really freaking bad, dangerous driver to get that many tickets — especially in Oregon, where we have the lowest patrol density in the West.

    A lot of people are bothered about the suspensions — and I am, to some degree, but the the violations that disturb me most are the speeding tickets. ALL of them were for at least 15mph over the limit; four were for more than 20 over the limit.
    – 1994: 95 in a 55 zone.
    – 1995: 69 in a 45 zone.
    – 1995: 80 in a 65 zone.
    – 1995: 80 in a 55 zone. Yes, third one in the same year.
    – 2002: 52 in a 35 zone.
    – 2003: 75 in a 50 zone.
    – 2009: 40 in a 25 zone.

    As I read through the list, I was all set to dismiss the tickets from the last century. But unfortunately the pattern continues. It may be that the 55 and 65 zones where he sped were out in the country where there’s less risk to others, but 35mph zones (as in the 2002 ticket) tend to have a lot more vulnerable users and he was going 1 1/2 times the legal limit.

    And although the 50/35 ticket was a decade ago, I’m really concerned about that 2009 ticket:
    1. It’s very recent, and therefore relevant.
    2. To me it’s BY FAR the worst of this decidedly egregious list of moving violations. A 25 zone probably means a residential neighborhood or somewhere where there are a lot of pedestrians. I can only imagine someone going 40 down the street I live on. Unbelievable that he could be that oblivious to the risk that he caused others by doing this. At 40mph a driver with typical reaction times will travel nearly 120 feet — more than half a block — before their foot even touches the brake pedal, and stopping distance is 2.5 times longer at 40mph than at the 25mph speed limit. At that speed, a kid crossing the street isn’t going to be looking far enough down the road to see him coming.

    Now I don’t know WTF to do. Good thing I’ve got a couple months to decide. I’m going to need the time. I don’t know how I can bring myself to vote for Charlie “voter fraud” Hales because of HIS integrity issues, and now this. I’m glad he didn’t hurt anyone, but with this record of violations it’s only by divine intervention that he didn’t. Maybe I’ll write in someone else (no offense Vance Longwell, but it won’t be you either).

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    • Chris I August 20, 2012 at 7:07 am

      If I made the laws, Jefferson Smith would have lost his license permanently by now.

      This is a serious issue for him if he is going to address transportation issues. If he tries to improve infrastructure or policies related to biking/walking, the pro-car people will cite this as evidence that he is a terrible driver, and should not be making policies or decisions on transportation. More importantly, I fear that he really does not understand active transportation safety. His record shows that he clearly is ignorant to the dangers speeding motorists create, or just doesn’t care.

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    • wsbob August 20, 2012 at 10:19 am

      Possibly somewhat related…I don’t know whether what Biel says is true or not, but here’s an interesting comment of his posted up-thread in response to assumptions people have made that Hales moved out of state to beat Oregon taxes, or whatever.

      joe biel
      It was a stipulation of Charlie’s divorce that he had to pay for his three sons through college. That’s why he quit mid-term for the Street Car job. He got re-married and moved in with his wife in Washington. You can paint these details however you like. But I did real reporting to learn this.
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      • Tony Fuentes August 20, 2012 at 10:56 am

        I have no comment on Mr. Hales personal life or personal responsibilities. However, with regard to his professional responsibilities, he quit the job he had been elected to in Portland in order to secure a bigger paycheck in the private sector from HDR.

        And that private sector paycheck was to promote streetcar development for HDR in other municipalities after Hales championed the streetcar development here in Portland, which was managed by HDR.

        I’m not a fan of elected officials quitting mid-term in general. I am even less enamored by officials that leave office to work for a firm that appears to have directly benefited from their actions & decisions while in office.

        Personally, I believe this type of employment change by elected officials should be illegal since even the appearance of influence peddling undermines the public trust.

        It has certainly undermined my trust of Hales as a candidate for Mayor, despite his intelligence and general likability.

        That said, the core of my support of Smith over Hales is based on the key issues at hand for Portland’s future. So even if Hales’ actions had not shown the potential appearance of influence peddling, I would still be supporting Smith.

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    • spare_wheel August 20, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      “I’m really concerned about that 2009 ticket.”

      I often speed on my commute down Hawthorne in the am. According to gps and cadence I routinely hit the low 30s. Nevertheless, I am passed by motorists going far faster every morning. Not once a week but EVERY MORNING.

      Jefferson got caught doing what many (most) motorists do every day.

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  • GlowBoy August 20, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    You’re right, spare_wheel. Jefferson got caught doing what many motorists do every day.

    Again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again.

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  • Dylan65 August 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I’m not sure how many of you can say that Jefferson has been honest about this. He’s dribbled out bits and pieces, and ONLY when forced to in interviews. And only yesterday did we get what looks like a complete picture of the extent of his recklessness. That is NOT honesty, and to me, that’s as troubling if not more troubling than his recklessness.

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  • Kristen August 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    One’s license can be suspended for non-vehicle related things. Such as not paying child support. That doesn’t mean he’s a bad driver, although it means he’s a deadbeat dad which is more damning in my eyes.

    If I were voting in Portland, I don’t think it would really change my mind. It may give me something more to think about, and gives me a bigger picture of the guy.

    It’s an interesting debate going on here, that’s for sure.

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  • dutchy August 20, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Sure, Smith’s driving record matters, especially to cyclists concerned about another potentially reckless driver. But I’m disappointed (on this rare occasion) in the headline of the article. It’s leading, at best, and shows no objectivity nor statement of fact. Please report the facts and let the reader decide. Either that, or run a poll. Thanks.

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  • Ross Williams August 21, 2012 at 10:36 am

    A 25 zone probably means a residential neighborhood or somewhere where there are a lot of pedestrians. I can only imagine someone going 40 down the street I live on.

    You don’t live on the residential sections of Stark, Burnside or similar streets then. 40 mph is pretty common on those kinds of neighborhood through streets. If you were standing on a street corner, I don’t think you would be surprised by a vehicle at that speed. I agree its dangerous for pedestrian and bicycles, but I think many drivers would feel pretty safe depending on the conditions. How egregious this is depends a lot on the specifics.

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    • GlowBoy August 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      No, I don’t live on a major arterial, and I think that would have been fairly clear in my post. Like most Portlanders I live on a quiet side street where children should not be expected to anticipate 40mph vehicles. Obviously there are 25mph streets where 40mph isn’t as unusual as it should be.

      So yes, you’re right that it depends on the specifics: if Jefferson did 40mph on a 25mph section of a major arterial, unfortunate and dangerous but not an enormous deal in and of itself. If he did it on the dense section of Hawthorne between 35th and 45th, where 40mph vehicles are actually pretty uncommon and there’s a huge concentration of pedestrians, I’d be more concerned. If he did it on a quiet residential street, then I’d be outraged.

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