City Commissioner Dan Saltzman is doing a solid for anyone who might have been looking at his seat on the Portland City Council and wondering whether the dean of city hall might finally step down after 16 years in office (plus five more before that, over at Multnomah County).
Saltzman, according to the Oregonian, will be running for a fifth term next spring—a move that lets candidates know they might want to look elsewhere, sapping a fair amount of drama from next year's election season.
Saltzman, the quirky, quiet environmental engineer first elected to citywide office in 1998, will launch his next campaign at a picnic on Labor Day, generally considered the start of the campaign season. So far, no one has announced plans to run against him.
In his first four terms, Saltzman has gained a reputation as an unassuming yet passionate champion for abused children and battered women. He’s respected among city employees for his low-key, non-micromanaging style but not always understood by his fellow politicians.
Open seats at least hold the potential for a good race, given the historic futility in going after incumbents in city hall. His chief of staff, Brendan Finn, had been mentioned in city hall as a potential candidate. So has County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury, who's seen as a likely candidate for taking over as Multnomah County chair. Saltzman had several opponents in 2010 but handily fought off all of them.
(Last year's races threw the political logic a bit: Commissioner Steve Novick walked into office, replacing Randy Leonard, while Commissioner Amanda Fritz fought a tough race against Mary Nolan.) Commissioner Nick Fish is also up for re-election—and has been targeted by water-rate activists over, for some reason, his three-month-old stewardship of the water bureau.
It's a somewhat early announcement for Saltzman, who waited until much later in 2009 before declaring for 2010. Saltzman had told me, when we talked about the perception among activists and others that he wasn't leading on housing issues as housing commissioner, that he didn't plan on waiting so long this time.