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?