Sho Dozono—downtown business owner and longtime civic activist—stopped by Portland City Hall on Monday morning, January 7, to pick up 2,000 public campaign finance forms. If he can convince 1,500 Portland voters to pony up $5 and their signature on those forms, he'll qualify for $200,000 of public funds in a bid for mayor—making Dozono the most serious challenger to date for frontrunner Sam Adams. There's just one hitch: He's got 25 days, total, to get those forms properly filled out.
To put that into perspective: It took City Commissioner Erik Sten two months to collect 1,000 contributions and signatures in 2006, and city council candidate Amanda Fritz has collected 1,000 twice—but needed a little over two and a half months each time.
"It's a test of my ability to inspire the citizens of Portland to invest their $5 in democracy," Dozono says. "I do believe I have the qualifications to win the race and become the mayor of Portland. I'm not entering this race to lose. I'm in the race to win." As for experience, he points to his "30 years plus of civic engagement and support for issues that are important to me and to Portland," like public education and the strength of Portland's small business community.
And if he doesn't succeed in collecting 1,500 contributions by the January 31 deadline, he says he'll bow out of the race. (Speaking of races! Sten announced his impending resignation last week. See In Other News, pg. 9 for more details.)
While Dozono was busy collecting signatures—as of Tuesday afternoon, he says he's already got 200—Adams was holding a press conference at the Multnomah County Bridge Shop to pitch his Safe, Sound, and Green Streets transportation funding package.
The $812.9 million package, which heads to the city council for a public hearing on Wednesday, January 9, would help pay for things like replacing Multnomah County's crumbling Sellwood Bridge and building bike boulevards. (If it passes the city council later this month, expect to see a new fee on your water bill to pay for the infrastructure improvements.)
But the Oregon Petroleum Association (OPA) is poised to refer the transportation package to the ballot (they'd need to collect 18,135 signatures from registered voters in 30 days). Danelle Romain of the OPA says the group represents convenience stores and gas stations—businesses she says will be hit unfairly hard by the fees, which are calculated based on the number of trips a business generates. Second, "proposing a tax when [the city has] all this money and they overspent on the tram is just absurd," Romain says.