June 6, 2008 Volume 109 Number 11

Labor-backed candidates do well at city, county

When ballots were counted May 20, most of the candidates backed by Portland-area unions won local government office. Most city and county races are non-partisan, and if no candidate wins a majority in the primary, voters pick between the top two in November.

Of the 10 races the Northwest Oregon Labor Council (NOLC) made endorsement recommendations, eight were victorious in the primary. Outright winners included Sam Adams for mayor of Portland; Dennis Doyle for mayor of Beaverton; Nick Fish and Randy Leonard for Portland City Council; and Craig Roberts for Clackamas County sheriff. Only Leonard and Roberts are incumbents.

Adams, a Portland city commissioner, garnered more than 52 percent of the vote in a field of 13 candidates running for an open seat. Incumbent Tom Potter did not seek re-election after serving just one term. Businessman Sho Dozono finished a distant second with 34 percent of the vote.

Adams is an ally of organized labor and had wide union support, including AFSCME Local 189, the largest union at the city. Adams has worked with building trades unions (he helped John Mohlis of the Columbia Pacific Building and Construction Trades Council get a mayor-appointed seat on the Portland Development Commission), and is a regular at anti-WalMart rallies put on by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555. During an endorsement interview with the Executive Board of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, Adams said, “I will be a union mayor — and I won’t apologize for it.”

Adams doesn’t take office until January 2009.

In a special election to fill an open Portland City Council seat, labor attorney Nick Fish won outright with 61 percent of the vote. Several unions helped his campaign with elbow grease and campaign contributions. Fish’s largest contributions came from AFSCME Local 189 ($4,000) and Teachers Voice in Politics ($3,500). He will be sworn in to office this month.

NOLC-endorsed candidate Mike Fahey finished fourth in a six-person race for Portland City Council, Position 1. Amanda Fritz, a member of the Oregon Nurses Association, was the top vote-getter, capturing 44 percent of the vote. She was endorsed by UFCW Local 555, Laborers Local 483, and Letter Carriers Branch 82. She will face Charles Lewis, who received 13 percent of the vote.

In Multnomah County, three of five seats on the commission were open this election. The top vote-getter was Deb Kafoury in District 1, with 87 percent of the vote. She was endorsed by AFSCME Local 88, the biggest union of county employees, and Portland Fire Fighters Local 43.

Judy Shiprack and Carla Piluso won easily in their respective races in Districts 3 and 4, but neither garnered the 50 percent plus one needed to win outright. Both had the support of NOLC.

Shiprack, a former state legislator and wife of building trades union official Bob Shiprack, finished first in a field of six candidates with 37 percent of the vote. The runner-up with 18 percent of the vote was Mike Delman, public affairs director of Portland Habilitation Center and a former staffperson at AFSCME. He had endorsements from UFCW Local 555 and the Oregon Nurses Association.

Piluso, chief of police for the City of Gresham, received nearly 48 percent of the vote in a four-person race in east Multnomah County. Her opponent in November will be West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce Director Diane McKeel, who finished with 28 percent of the vote.

Local 88 President Becky Steward said she was particularly pleased to see Piluso — who the union endorsed — make it to November, because of her public safety background. “It’s very difficult for the commission to deal with public safety issues if they don’t have someone with expertise,” Steward said.

In Beaverton, union support helped unseat four-term Mayor Rob Drake, who was described as very difficult during contract negotiations with city government workers who belong to Service Employees Local 503. SEIU, NOLC, and the Beaverton Police Association endorsed challenger Denny Doyle, a Beaverton city councilor. Doyle won with 10,507 votes to Drake’s 8,768.

In Clackamas County, Wilsonville Mayor Charlotte Lehan finished first in a four-person race for County Commission, Position 4. With 47 percent of the vote, Lehan will be in a runoff in November against runner-up Dave Mowry, who garnered 25 percent of the vote. Mowry is a political consultant and former aide to Republican State Rep. Linda Flores.

NOLC-endorsed Trent Tidwell finished fourth in a seven-person race for Clackamas County Commission, Position 5. Tidwell is a city commissioner in Oregon City.

Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts won re-election over two other candidates with 79 percent of the vote.


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