PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Accusations and denials continue to fly in the Portland City Council race between incumbent Jo Ann Hardesty and challenger Rene Gonzalez after Gonzalez’ campaign headquarters was vandalized for the second time in a month.
The Gonzalez campaign said recent comments Hardesty made calling his staff Republicans has incited political violence toward them.
The Gonzalez campaign sent Hardesty’s office a cease-and-desist letter about her comments on his staffers and his ideology.
During the KOIN 6 News debate between the candidates, Hardesty said, “My opponent has only worked with Republican folks, all his staff are Republican folks, they’ve only worked for other Republican people who have been elected.”
Hardesty doubled down on Monday and said his comments reflect a Republican perspective.
His comments, she said, are “consistent with a Republican ideology. All he’s got in his law and order platform, and our community needs so much more than that.”
Late on Saturday night, a large rock was thrown through the windows at the Gonzalez headquarters causing an estimated $8000 in damage. PPB told KOIN 6 News there are no suspects and no confirmed motive, but investigators said they “are investigating the possibility of a connection between the ‘direct action’ event and the campaign office vandalism.”
Both Gonzalez and Hardesty condemn the vandalism.
“I’m a Biden Democrat. Her statements are false,” Gonzalez told KOIN 6 News. “As the rhetoric goes up and we see acts of violence, we felt the need to calm things down. These are the facts. This is who we are and let Portlanders decide.”
Hardesty said her comments are not responsible for any vandalism at the Gonzalez headquarters.
“Let me just say, as the first Black woman to serve on Portland’s City Council, I certainly understand the fear that Mr. Gonzalez and his team are experiencing, but I in no way had anything to do with that,” she said. “I have always been a student of Dr. Martin Luther King, non-violent direct action. My entire adult life that’s been who I am.”
Gonzalez said the political extremism has gotten worse in Portland recently, citing vandalism to the homes of Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Dan Ryan.
“I think this has really accelerated the last couple of years,” he said. “Like everyday Portlanders, we have to clean up the mess and get on with our lives.”
Stay with KOIN 6 News for the latest on Election 2022.