01 Nov

Contest would be useful, but Wheeler’s claim to mayor’s job is strong

This week, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales realized something that a lot of Portland voters had already figured out:

State Treasurer Ted Wheeler has a strong claim to Hales’ job.

The Portland area hasn’t had a great record on local leadership lately. Hales will be the third one-term mayor in a row, and nobody left happily. Tom Potter spent his term trying to get a vision of what he wanted to do, and Sam Adams, a lame duck from arrival, had his greatest success in avoiding being recalled. Hales himself seemed to get lost in Portland’s deteriorating streets.

Wheeler’s predecessor as Multnomah County chairman saw her board become dysfunctional even by congressional standards. Wheeler’s successor disappeared into a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding sex scandal.

And then there was Wheeler, who in four years running Multnomah County straightened out the budget and had the county board functioning. That led to his appointment as state treasurer; if that hadn’t happened, Wheeler might have gotten to the mayor’s office already.

It’s still five months until the filing deadline, and Portland needs a real mayor’s race. There are legislators and appointed officials who could make the race, and raise the questions Portland should be facing.

Ted Wheeler is a strong candidate for mayor. But one should never be enough.

NORE: This commentary appeared on KGW-TV, 10/31/15.