‘We are at a turning point’: Wheeler vies for 2nd term


Ted Wheeler took office January 1, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Ted Wheeler announced that he will run for re-election as the mayor of Portland Monday evening.

Wheeler, 57, kicked off his re-election campaign with an event at Uncorked Studios in Southeast Portland. Commissioner Nick Fish, State Representative Janelle Bynum and other civic and business leaders joined Wheeler for the announcement.

“We are at a turning point,” said Wheeler on the same rooftop where he made his first bid for mayor. “This will either be a decade of innovation, or it will be a decade of continued and perhaps irreversible decline.”

“It’s taken decades of inaction at all levels of government to create the crisis that we see here today on our streets and around the nation,” he said. “It’s a housing emergency, it’s a mental health emergency, an addition emergency, an economic emergency—all rolled up into a very complex and challenging problem.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announces his campaign for re-election. October 14, 2019 (KOIN)

During his speech, Wheeler laid out some early focuses of his campaign—the biggest of them being the city’s housing crisis, which is something he said he could keep making progress on in a second term.

“We’ve done a lot of work when it comes to the homeless issue, but we haven’t done enough,” said Wheeler. “I need to show more leadership from the local level by encouraging, collaborating with, and pushing other partners in the state and federal government to work with us on a whole host of issues.”

If he’s successful, Wheeler will become the first two-term mayor of Portland in 16 years. In order to do that, he will have to convince Portland voters he is the man who can tackle some of the city’s largest and most pressing issues. To that point, Wheeler touched on topics such as changing tactics in their crisis response teams, opening new shelters, providing more services, and investing in areas like addiction treatment and sanitation.

So far, only one candidate has officially filed with the city to run against Wheeler. Community advocate and educator Sarah Iannarone announced her run for mayor in July. Her campaign released the following statement in response to Wheeler’s Monday announcement:

“We welcome to the addition of Mayor Wheeler to this race. Although we disagree with the leadership he has exhibited, we believe Portlanders deserve the opportunity to reject the path he has taken our city down. His decision to hold his campaign kick off in a closed-door manner at a private location, while Sarah’s was held at a public neighborhood park, is indicative of the differences between our two campaigns. We look forward to a healthy conversation surrounding climate change, housing, and inequality. This campaign is about all of us, and ultimately, the candidate with the follow-through, record, and vision needed will win.”

Last December, Wheeler told reporters he expected to run for re-election despite an earlier muttered comment that he “can’t wait” for his term to be over. Wheeler dismissed the comment as momentary frustration.

As mayor, Wheeler has been in the center of stories that grabbed national attention. President Trump criticized Wheeler for how he responded to an Occupy ICE protest in 2018. Wheeler responded by tweet: “We want a president that we can be proud of.”

Mayor Ted Wheeler at a press conference following protests in Portland, August 17, 2019 (KOIN)

Then in August, Trump said “Portland is being watched very closely” as the city braced for a right-wing rally that drew demonstrators from around the country. Wheeler and the police prepared for that protest, which remained peaceful.

Bud Clark and Vera Katz each won consecutive terms as mayor beginning in 1984. But since Katz left office, Portland has had a series of single-term mayors: Tom Potter, Sam Adams and Charlie Hales.

Wheeler, who was Oregon State Treasurer before becoming mayor, took office at City Hall on January 1, 2017.

Wheeler, Iannarone and 4 other people filed with the state to begin fundraising for the campaign: Michael Burleson, Ozzie Gonzalez, Teressa Raiford and Mark White. Candidates have until March 10, 2020 to file to run for office. The primary is set for May 20, 2020.

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