This month, we’ll talk with each of the three major candidates in the Portland mayor’s race. First up is Jefferson Smith. He’s currently a Democratic state representative serving District 47 (Portland), but he’s probably best known for his role in starting the Oregon Bus Project. The Bus Project is a politically progressive, nonprofit organization designed to engage younger voters. At 38, Smith is a young politician. He comes from a political family, and his election to the Oregon House in 2009 at 35 came with some high expectations. Over the course of three sessions, he’s championed a number of issues from water resources to limiting tax breaks. He also made national news with his bipartisan “Rick Roll” stunt on YouTube.
The Oregonian revealed that, while he’s devoted a lot of time encouraging young people to vote, Smith’s own voting record was spotty when he was in his twenties. Prior to his political life, Smith worked as a lawyer with the city’s largest firm, Stoel Rives. But, as Willamette Week reported, Smith has been suspended from the bar three times since 2004 for failing to pay his dues. He’s also had some issues with traffic tickets. Smith blames his ADHD for the unpaid dues and the outstanding tickets.
Smith announced his candidacy Sept. 13, three months after former City Commissioner Charlie Hales and New Seasons co-founder Eileen Brady threw their respective hats into the ring. These three front-runners will face off against each other — as well as a dozen other candidates — in the May 15 primary.
Will you be voting in the Portland mayoral primary? What questions do you have for Jefferson Smith?