Portland city commissioner Sam Adams filed Wednesday to be a candidate for mayor of Portland. The job opens at the end of 2008 because Mayor Tom Potter said last month he won’t run again.
Now Adams is vying to be the first openly gay mayor of Oregon’s largest city and one of only a handful nationwide. Colin Fogarty reports.
Ever since Mayor Potter bowed out of running for a second term, Sam Adams has been seen as the obvious front runner. He was considered politically ambitious even back when he served as chief of staff to former Mayor Vera Katz.
Now he wants his old boss’s job.
Sam Adams: “My life both personal and professional has really been an apprenticeship for a job like this. So it is with great humility I’m going to be tossing my hat into the ring to be Portland’s next mayor.”
If elected, Adams would be the first openly gay mayor of Portland, but he doesn’t want to be type-cast.
Sam Adams: “It might be historic. But I’m not running to be the first openly gay mayor of Portland or any major city in the United States. I’m running to be the best possible mayor for the city of Portland.”
Sam Adams' political plans got side-tracked for a few weeks by a story told by a possible rival – developer Robert Ball —who also happens to be gay.
He said he that Adams may have had had an improper relationship with a 17-year-old boy. Both Adams and the teen deny that and in fact, no evidence has surfaced to support the allegation.
Adams called it a “smear” and so did fellow commissioner Randy Leonard. He’s supporting Adams and calls the story “unfortunate”.
Randy Leonard: “I mean obviously any time those kind of charges go out, whether they’re true or as in this case, false, they linger. I noticed some of the stories lately are, questions have been raised about Sam Adams in the past few weeks, for a lot of people say ‘oh, really what’s that mean’. It’s just not good.”
But Robert Ball – the developer who made that accusation – says he was not trying to smear Adams and did not have political motivations. Ball said he was just trying to do the right thing and report concerns that he felt were credible.
As for running for Mayor of Portland, Ball said he hasn’t made any decisions. Five other candidates have filed to run. But Sam Adams is easily the most well known, given his history in city government — and it doesn't hurt that there’s a famous a beer with the same name.
The mayor of Portland is a non-partisan position. The election is in May next year. But if no candidate wins more than 50%, a two-person run-off will come next November.