Portland Mayor Tom Potter announced Monday he will not be running for reelection. Potter told City Hall staff Monday, that he wants to spend more time with his family. As Kristian Foden-Vencil reports, the decision opens the field.
Tom Potter: “Today I’m announcing that I will not be candidate for Mayor Portland in 2008.”
Potter stood next to his wife Karin and sported the beginnings of a new beard which he'd asked Portland residents to vote for or against online. Potter said he’s done most of the things he set out to do when elected.
Tom Potter: “We are in the process of creating a Human Rights Commission, with the mission of knitting our increasingly diverse city together. A Racial Profiling Committee is already forging recommendations for how police and citizens can work together to eliminate mistrust and build relationships based on mutual respect. Another group is tackling the barriers faced by immigrants and refugees in assimilating into our society.”
Potter talked about his ‘Youth Violence Prevention’ group, which is working to eliminate the reasons young people join gangs. And he praised the creation of a controversial new ‘Day Laborer Center."
But once he finished his list of accomplishments, Potter was asked, why he decided not to run again.
Tom Potter: “A lot of things helped make my mind up. Some of them were as simple one of my grandchildren saying they would like to see more of me. To, being out camping and thinking my, this is certainly fun out here. So a number of things went into it, professional and personal.”
Considering his predecessor, Vera Katz, was in office for 12 years, Potter’s decision to only serve four years, took some people by surprise.
But City Commissioner Erik Sten wasn't one of them.
Erik Sten: “I have sensed that he’s put every ounce that he has into this job. I think he’s done a good job and my feeling was that he probably was going to decide to go back to his family where his heart is and where he’s been gone.”
So the question is: As the council member with the longest experience, will Sten run?
Erik Sten: “No, I’m not running. I have a three year old son and working every hour I’m not sleeping to keep up with him and my current job, and so the rigors of a campaign wouldn’t allow me to lead the kind of life I need to live with my family.”
But Commissioner Sam Adams may be another matter.
In Erik Sten's view -- among others-- there’s: “a very very high probability that Commissioner Sam Adams will run.”
Indeed Adams was the only commissioner who wasn’t around for Potter’s announcement.
Commissioner Randy Leonard called Potter’s administration calm and measured. He said it was just what Portland needed after a frenetic 12 years with Vera Katz. But he also said he might have tried his own run if Potter tried to stay in office.
Randy Leonard: “I just considered that again maybe the ‘breather’ was enough and we may not have needed an eight year ‘breather.’ A four year breather was enough.”
Leonard says he hopes Commissioner Sam Adams will run, because of the energy he would bring to the race. But he did not endorse his fellow commissioner.
Leonard says the one thing Mayor Potter is to be congratulated on, is winning his office without the backing of the city’s big wigs.
Tom Potter too, appeared anxious to help the next Mayor repeat the performance. He used his speech to announce the creation of a ‘City Hall 101' -- a series of classes aimed at making the election process less mysterious and more open.
Charles Lewis, the director of a local non-profit and candidate for a seat on the city council, says he’ll definitely be taking the classes.
Charles Lewis: “I think Mayor Potter has set a tremendous example for any candidate. And I think the idea of getting more people in, new blood, is a great idea and I’m just excited to be part of the process.”
Meanwhile, Tom Potter celebrates his 67th birthday this week and will apparently keep growing his beard.
He still has 16 months left to serve and says he has no intention of being a lame duck during that time.