PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Former Portland Mayor Bud Clark — also known as “The People’s Mayor” — has died.
Clark’s son confirmed to KOIN 6 News that he died Tuesday afternoon. Clark was 90 years old.
Clark took on the mayorship back in 1985. He also owned the Goose Hollow Inn in Southwest Portland, the tavern that served as headquarters for one of the biggest political upsets in Portland history — when Clark defeated incumbent Mayor Frank Ivancie in 1984.
Clark served two terms until 1992. His crowning achievement is the Oregon Convention Center, built during a recession.
“It gave people confidence (that) the city had a future and there was prosperity ahead,” he said to KOIN 6 News’ Ken Boddie back in 2016.
Portland faces difficult issues now, but it was also a time of crisis when he took over as mayor.
Clark also established the city’s first 12-point homeless plan. A homeless shelter in Northwest Portland is still named for him to this day.
Reverend Chuck Currie had the honor of working with Clark on homeless issues when he became Portland’s mayor.
“The economy was in a downturn. Homelessness was a growing issue. And so was poverty and racial injustice and police accountability. These were all issues on the table. Back in the 1980s, what Bud showed us is that there’s a path forward,” Currie said.
Even in 2016, it frustrated Clark that the homeless problem persists.
“The rich are getting richer, and there has to be a more equitable distribution of wealth,” Clark said.
That populist leaning is why Clark was known as “The People’s Mayor.” Every year he threw a big party called The Mayor’s Ball, and it seemed everybody was in attendance.
However, it’s still a certain poster that most people remember. It’s called “Expose Yourself to Art” and it has been reproduced and imitated thousands of times over the years.
It made Clark’s backside and trench coat famous in 1978, years before he entered politics — and will likely keep him alive in many Portlanders’ memories long after his death.
“We had a well-managed city and well-managed by a larger-than-life personality,” former city commissioner Mike Lindberg said.
Lindberg added that Clark “brought a lot of joy and vitality and humor to the city at a time we needed it.”
“We’ve lost a lot of good people over the years. But Bud Clark is always going to be remembered as kind of the quintessential Portlander, the guy with the rose in his lapel, famous for his ‘whoop whoop’ when he got excited,” Currie said.
In recent years, Clark was still fundraising for the Sunshine Division. His colleagues and friends said he was a community servant until his dying day.
“He had a tremendous skill of bringing all those people together toward a common vision. So, when I look at Portland today and I kind of go back and reminisce about the way he did the job, we have a lot to learn from the way he did it,” Lindberg said.
Portland mayor Ted Wheeler had this to say on the passing of Clark “Mayor Bud Clark was an integral part of Portland history with a larger than life personality. He leaves behind a legacy of work addressing housing and poverty issues. i am grateful for his friendship and leadership.”