FORMER STATE SENATOR Avel Gordly finally sat down with the Mercury last week at a Starbucks on NE Fremont.
Gordly, who teaches leadership and community development at Portland State University (PSU), is leading the second campaign to recall Mayor Sam Adams, who lied about an affair with legislative intern Beau Breedlove during the 2008 election race.
Gordly said she had been impressed with PSU political science student Jasun Wurster when he ran the first unsuccessful recall campaign against Adams last year.
"I was impressed with the language that he was speaking and I was very, very impressed with his courage," said Gordly. "I had expected that there would be other civic leaders, not just the business community but also electeds, other folk who also care about our city."
Gordly denied playing favorites with the media despite not returning this paper's calls last November, when the idea for the second recall effort was seeded. At the time, Gordly granted interviews to the Portland Tribune and Just Out—the two papers most vociferous about Adams' alleged duty to resign after the Breedlove scandal broke.
"I don't play favorites," said Gordly. "There are several people I didn't talk to during that time.
"If I didn't want to talk to you, we wouldn't be talking now," she continued.
Gordly began the 22-minute interview on Friday January 22 (full video and transcript below) by insisting, "The politics of winning by any means necessary... needs to be rejected."
At the same time, she denied having signed a contract with Voice of the Electorate (VOTE)—a signature-gathering firm owned by right-winger Kevin Mannix—to gather signatures for the effort.
Mannix, whose long-term strategist Jack Kane has been involved in meetings over the new recall effort, has been an outspoken opponent of gay rights over the years.
Meanwhile VOTE spokesperson Ross Day told the Mercury last week that he is eager to begin collecting signatures for the effort, for a contract expected to be worth between $150,000 to $300,000 ["See Ya at Da Party, Richter," News, Jan 21].
"I have not talked with Ross Day, I have never met the man," said Gordly, adding later that the second recall campaign is "not about Kevin Mannix and what he supports or does not support."
"I would not even identify with a campaign that was coming from some anti-gay place," said Gordly. "That's not healthy. That would not be healthy for our city and again, it's not what this campaign is about. It's about restoring integrity and addressing the character and integrity of our city; it's not about an individual."
VOTE has also paid convicted sex offenders and fraudsters to gather signatures for the "no" effort on statewide tax ballot Measures 66 and 67 ["Think Twice," News, Aug 13, 2009]. Gordly said she would "not dignify the question" of whether those methods also qualified as "winning by any means necessary."
Gordly says that this week the recall campaign plans to release full details about who is funding the effort and which signature-gathering firm will be employed. By press time, no such information had been released, but you can check blogtown.portlandmercury.com for updates.
Gordly said she did "not accept" the $350,000 to $400,000 figure as the price of a recall election to Portland's taxpayers—a figure quoted to the Mercury by City Elections Officer Andrew Carlstrom. When pressed, however, she admitted: "Whatever the cost, it will be worthwhile to restore trust and integrity in the elections process, and trust and honesty in our government."
On the question of whether she could legitimately characterize the second recall as a "grassroots" effort, as she has done in recent press interviews, Gordly was difficult to pin down.
"Did you not hear me say that we have 700 volunteers from the previous campaign?" she asked. "They would also be involved."
And that's the grassroots effort, but there's a different aspect to this campaign, the Mercury suggested.
"We're building on the foundation that was laid in the previous campaign," Gordly continued. "We're not starting over. We're re-launching. And again, we're building on the efforts of the last campaign, and we're enhancing the effort with paid signature gatherers."
So it isn't a grassroots campaign anymore?
"It is a grassroots campaign," Gordly said.
With paid signature gatherers?
"With paid signature gatherers," Gordly responded. "And I reject your angle here in trying to shift and shape this as not being a grassroots campaign."