Willy Week’s Weak Mayoral Picks

I know I shouldn’t take seriously Pulitzer prize winner Nigel Jaquiss’ list of 12 potential Sam Adams challengers in today’s Willamette Week, but indulge me while I pick it apart a few of his would-be draftees.

First, fully a third of the list come from the Portland K-12 schools scene, a scene dominated by part-time policy amateurs following the lead of their handlers in the business community.

Cynthia Guyer, former executive director of the Portland Schools Foundation (PSF), falls into the latter camp. She is credited by supporters and foes alike for foisting a free-market, business-oriented approach onto Portland’s largest school district. There are serious concerns that under her leadership, PSF went from being a small equity fund to the dominant voice in Portland Public Schools policy.

Former PPS school board member Julia Brim Edwards also has questionable bona fides in the minds of many Portland schools activists.

Current PPS school board member Sonja Henning is an especially puzzling choice. (As with other potential candidates, Jaquiss seems to be picking based on resume, race and gender, not political leadership skill.) Henning seems to be a genuinely nice person, and she always seems to just about get it on the really big issues, like school funding equity. But she never quite seems to be able to take the bull by the horns and lead on policy. That’s (sadly) the way things are done at PPS, but it seems like a deal breaker when we’re talking about the full-time mayor of a big city.

Jonah Edelman, founder of Stand for Children, doesn’t want the job. Which is good, because the “K-12 parent army” ain’t lining up behind him (or any of the other three schools people Jaquiss picked).

Finally, a comment on Eileen Brady, a partner in New Seasons and wife of New Season’s CEO Brian Rohter. Jaquiss thinks Brady’s “gender, the sustainability mystique and the resources she brings to any race make her a potent possible candidate.” (Serioulsy, I think Willamette Week must be joking on this whole thing.)

What about policy and leadership experience? Jaquiss notes other potential candidates’ pros or cons with organized labor, but somehow neglects to mention that Brady is a partner in the largest non-union grocery chain in Portland. Her husband was instrumental in breaking up a 1996-97 union campaign at Nature’s fresh Northwest (New Season’s predecessor), and has been consistently hostile to organized labor in practice. (Willamette Week covered the union campaign at Nature’s in 1997, but the articles are not available in the online archives.)

What I’d like to know is: who’d they miss? There’s got to be somebody with legitimate public policy and leadership experience willing to take on Sam Adams, a guy who’s never held a real job, has a spotty policy record, and whose number-one priority seems to be representing condo developers’ interests.

We know Erik Sten has his eyes on a bigger prize, like, say, a high-level appointment in a future Clinton administration.

One person who’s rumored to be considering a run is PPS school board member David Wynde. (I’m surprised Jaquiss missed that.)

How about it Portland, isn’t there anybody else out there who can bring professionalism, experience and policy expertise to this election? Or are we destined for a “collective nervous breakdown” under Adams?

7 Comments so far

  1. Terry (unregistered) on November 30th, 2007 @ 6:50 pm

    Thoughtful and informative post, Steve, especially your take on Sonja Henning.

    However … I take issue with your decision to link to Jack Bog’s Blog. In my humble opinion, Jack has nothing of value to say about Portland’s mayoral race beyond clever and cynical sloganeering.

    Look for a post on my site soon for some elaboration.


  2. Steve (unregistered) on November 30th, 2007 @ 8:03 pm

    Maybe I’m a cynic, too, but I appreciate Jack’s take on the current city commissioners and mayor.


  3. marcia (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 11:32 am

    David Wynde? There’s another person I can’t imagine PPS activists backing.


  4. marcia (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 11:33 am

    David Wynde? Can you tell us more? There’s another person I can’t imagine PPS activists backing.


  5. marcia (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 11:39 am

    sorry for the double post..It didn’t show up, so I edited…then there it was…But really, is this just a rumor..or is Wynde seriously considering running? Also, I would have thought Bobbie Regan would have shown up on that list before Henning.


  6. Steve (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2007 @ 11:48 am

    You’ll have to ask David Wynde… I’ve just heard the rumor, but as far as I know, no reporters have asked him on the record if he’s actually considering a run.

    And you’re right; PPS activists would actively campaign against him.

    Jaquiss was looking for non-white, non-male candidates. Regan definitely has shown more leadership initiative, but she doesn’t fit enough of Jaquiss’ silly criteria.


  7. Wacky Mommy (unregistered) on December 3rd, 2007 @ 10:40 pm

    I believe I will run for mayor. Vote early, vote often: WACKY MOMMY FOR MAYOR.



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