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Portland Business Leader Announces Run For Mayor

Portland businessman Sho Dozono announced his run for mayor Monday.

Dozono is perhaps best known for organizing the Flights for Freedom, where hundreds of Oregonians visited New York after the attacks of 9/11. He is also well known as the president and CEO of the Azumano travel agency in Portland.

As Kristian Foden-Vencil reports, Dozono has weathered several financial storms with his business and now says he wants to bring his expertise to city government.

Sho Dozono was born in Japan and moved to the U.S. when he was 10 years old.  His love of Stumptown, however, has always been abundantly clear.

 Sho Dozono
 Sho and Loen Dozono

Sho Dozono: “I grew up in Portland here. I want to Buckman Grade School. Hosford. Cleveland High School. Class of ’63. You can do your math and figure out I’m a little more than 60 years old at this point. I care about this city and I taught at Grand High School for five years. Coached wrestling and football. So I have a deep understanding and love for this city.”

After teaching and coaching, Dozono took over his father-in-law’s business, Azumono Travel. But the internet brought on some tough times for travel agencies.

The National Association of Travel Agents estimates the number of agencies has declined 37 percent since 1994.

But using contacts in Japan and the U.S., Dozono managed to keep his company afloat. It's now employing about 250 people.

Indeed, his strong links to local businesses set him apart from his chief rival, current city Commissioner Sam Adams.

Dozono has chaired the Portland Business Alliance, a group that fought long and hard in 2006 to unseat another commissioner,  Erik Sten – on the grounds he wasn’t sufficiently accommodating to businesses.

But Dozono says he isn’t taking any large donations from the group. Instead, he’s trying to qualify for the city's public financing system.

Sho Dozono: “If I was the puppet of the Business Alliance I would not be going to public financing. As you know, they were very much against the public financing. And I’m sure I’ll lose some issues with some of the business colleagues I have because they were certainly not supportive of this public financing.”

Dozono says he’s not running because of any one particular issue in Portland. But he says, he doesn’t like the idea of a coronation for candidates – referring to front runner Sam Adams.

Sho Dozono: “I’ve not been an insider at City Hall. I’ve not worked at City Hall for 12 years or there abouts. And I certainly have not held elective office, only as a volunteer, only as a concerned citizen trying to do the right thing for the right causes.”

For his part, Adams says he’s always expected the mayoral race to be hotly contested.

Sam Adams: “You know, I welcome Sho to the race and I look forward to having a robust discussion of the issues.”

Adams says voters will have a clear choice between himself and Dozono.

Sam Adams: “I’ve chosen a career as a public servant and have served on the county, federal, state level and now city level. Sho has spent his career in business and downtown business leadership positions. And I think it’ll be a good sort of debate of the issues, which I think is really important.”

Meanwhile, Dozono’s family is getting used to the public scrutiny that goes with a mayoral bid. Sho’s wife, Loen Dozono, says he's good under pressure and would make a great mayor.

Loen Dozono: “I am excited for him and the city. I think he really can do a lot of good. It was something that I didn’t feel ready to be supportive of for a long time. But it was just this situation that we felt it was really important at this time to do this.”

Dozono now has until the end of the month to collect 1500 signatures and $5 donations.

He’s also just one of 11 candidates who’ve so far announced.

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