PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The first Portland City Council meeting since Commissioner Nick Fish died was an emotional and moving time as members of the council shared their favorite memories of the man they all said they were lucky to know.
Fish, who battled stomach cancer for 2 years, died January 2 at the age of 61. A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, February 8 at 3 p.m. in Hoffman Hall on the Portland State University campus.
His staff and community members filled the chamber on the day he would have taken the office of council president. To honor him, Mayor Ted Wheeler nominated Fish “as council president one last time,” a move quickly seconded by Commissioner Amanda Fritz.
“He gave the best years of his life in that seat over there and he did it because he loved it and he loved this city and he loved you,” Wheeler said. “It was genuine and I was just proud to know him.”
After the ceremonial honor, the council appointed the official title and duties of council president to Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.
Four of the 5 city council seats are on the ballot in 2020 — Hardesty is the only one not up for re-election.
Of the five City Council members, Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly already were running for reelection in 2020. Commissioner Amanda Fritz chose not to seek another term. Now voters also will pick a midterm replacement for Fish this year.
The commissioners voted to hold a special election during the May primary to fill the unexpected vacancy of Fish’s seat.
If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters would face each other in a runoff election, the same as the other races. If they occur, those races will be decided at the Nov. 3 general election. The council is expected to choose the Aug. 11 special election allowed by Oregon law, however.
“I think the number of contested seats is uncharted territory at a time when ‘uncharted territory’ is becoming a cliché,” said Portland-based lobbyist and veteran City Hall watcher Len Bergstein. “It’s a ‘best of times, worst of times’ scene. If you like stability and continuity, you are in for a nail-biting election. But if you like fresh faces, new energy and innovative ideas, you will be loving it.”
The Portland Tribune contributed to this report.