Nick Fish’s death leaves void on Portland City Council

Civic Affairs

Nick Fish, 61, battled cancer for 2 years

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Nick Fish was a major force in shaping the city of Portland for the past 11 years. His death on Thursday at 61 leaves a void that will take time to fill.

Next week, the Portland City Council will vote to approve a special election in May to fill his seat. Those who want to run would have until mid-March to file.

His death means that 4 of the 5 Portland City Council seats will be on the ballot in the May 2020 primary. Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly are running for reelection. Commissioner Amanda Fritz is retiring.

Nick Fish in an undated photo. The Portland City Commissioner died January 2, 2020 (KOIN, file)

Any candidate on the May ballot who receives more than 50% of the vote wins. If no candidate in a certain race gets more than 50%, the top 2 vote-getters have a November run-off.

Whoever wins this special election for Fish’s seat will finish the remainder of his term until 2022.

He was the longest serving member of the City Council, winning a special election in 2008, then full terms in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

‘I’ll miss his counsel and advice’

In a one-on-one interview with KOIN 6 News, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler shared his thoughts about the man seen as the voice of reason on the City Council.

“Nick understood that in order to get things done in this form of government you had to compromise, you had to listen to other people and include other perspectives,” Wheeler said. “Sometimes he had to give a little to get a little. He was very good at that. I watched him do that and I learned from him being able to do that.”

Fish, who was in charge of both Parks and Environmental Services, was working to find a solution to the $6 million deficit the Parks Bureau is facing.

“I also gave him my commitment that this Council will work hard to address the financial issues in the Parks Department. That’s really important to all of us. We will continue that effort,” the mayor told KOIN 6 News.

“I’ll miss his good counsel and advice.”

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