Commissioner Leonard to seek re-election; uncertain on whom to support for mayor

Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard told a group of union officials meeting for breakfast Nov. 20 that he will seek re-election next year for a full four-year term on the City Council.

Leonard, a former president and retired member of Portland Fire Fighters Local 43, was elected in 2002 to fill the unexpired term of Charlie Hales on the Portland City Council. Leonard defeated Multnomah County Commissioner Serena Cruz in a November runoff. The two were the top vote-getters in the May primary, which attracted 15 candidates.

Prior to that, Leonard served nine years in the Oregon Senate and House. He resigned from the House to run for City Council.

Leonard informed union officials that former City Commissioner Margaret Strachan was being recruited to run against him next year. A commissioner from 1981 to 1986, Strachan reportedly is considering the challenge.

Leonard was asked who he was endorsing to succeed Vera Katz as mayor. His answer:“No one at this time.”

That response startled several union officials at the table, who said that mayoral candidate and fellow commissioner Jim Francesconi was telling labor he had Leonard’s endorsement.

“That’s not true,” Leonard responded. “If he’s saying that ... can you believe that? It’s absolutely not true.”

Leonard said he met with Francesconi a week earlier, at which time the two-term commissioner pressed him for an early endorsement. Francesconi made a point to remind Leonard that he had endorsed Leonard’s campaign against Cruz in 2002.

Leonard said he told Francesconi he wanted more time to think about it. Whereby Francesconi responded, “I’m going to remember the people who supported me early.”

Leonard told union officials that at the time he thought: “Jim knows how to raise money, but he can’t count to three (that’s the number of votes needed to pass anything on the five-person, non-partisan City Council).”

So, local unions, for the record: Randy Leonard has not endorsed anyone for mayor.

Francesconi has picked up a handful of early labor endorsements, though. They include United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, Joint Council of Teamsters No. 37, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 8, Amalgamated Transit Union Division 757 and Electrical Workers Local 125.

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