With five days to go until Election Day, Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has thrown her support behind mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone.
It’s unclear how much the endorsement will buoy the campaign of Iannarone, a community activist vying to unseat Mayor Ted Wheeler, with 60% of voter’s ballots already returned in Multnomah County. Regardless, it’s a dramatic repudiation of Wheeler from Hardesty, who had endorsed him during the primary but has disagreed vehemently with him on policing issues since then.
Hardesty’s endorsement comes a day after Wheeler sided with commissioners Amanda Fritz and Dan Ryan in pushing a vote to next week on Hardesty’s proposal to pull $18 million from the police bureau. The council had sat through hours of testimony, largely in favor of the cuts, but all three said they didn’t have enough information about Hardesty’s proposal and needed more time. Hardesty said she found it cowardly to push a vote until after the election and hung up on the video call.
Less than 24 hours later, she’s decided not to sit out the mayoral race.
“In this electoral cycle I have looked to leaders to serve with me and help me in charting a future for all Portlanders where we can thrive - because I am not interested in rebuilding inequitable systems,” she wrote in a post on Facebook. “In these moments some of our leaders have risen, causing me to change my mind and throw my support to them, and last night — after months of urging from my community, I finally realized that some of our leaders — including our current Mayor — have failed.”
Hardesty had endorsed Wheeler during the primary, but later withdrew her support, citing Wheeler’s handling of his police force during months of racial justice protests. But with days to go, she apparently decided to throw her support behind his opponent. Recent polling conducted for OPB shows the two candidates neck-in-neck.
Hardesty’s statement said she’d seen “limited, status quo thinking” from the mayor and said she believed Iannarone had a compelling plan to “rethink community safety based on a public health model."
“I look forward to working with Mayor Sarah Iannarone to continue engaging our community to build a more equitable and resilient Portland out of the series of crises we find ourselves in today,” she wrote.
Earlier this summer, Hardesty had called for Wheeler to name the city’s police commissioner. Wheeler said it was a bad time to change leadership and he wanted to wait until January when new council members take their seats in City Hall. Iannarone has promised to make Hardesty police commissioner on her first day in office.
This leaves both mayoral candidates with one sitting member of the council endorsing their candidacy. Amanda Fritz has endorsed Wheeler. Former Mayor Sam Adams also threw his support behind Wheeler this week.