Political allies and sometimes bandmates, Chief Mike Reese, left, and Commissioner Randy Leonard, right.
  • Political allies and sometimes bandmates, Chief Mike Reese, left, and Commissioner Randy Leonard, right.
Randy Leonard stepped out of this morning's city council meeting promising he wouldn't comment on news surrounding Police Chief Mike Reese's interest in becoming mayor. Earlier, he shut down the Oregonian when they came asking. But Randy being Randy, he couldn't pass up a chance to dish to reporters (I was there, and so was KGW) and held forth for a few minutes before heading back in to do the people's business.

He says he and Reese have talked, and that "I would endorse him—if he runs." He also said Reese was singularly "competent" and then threw a wonderfully sharp jab at Jefferson Smith, Eileen Brady, and Charlie Hales: "Particularly if he jumps in with this current group."

Leonard also took a shot at former Mayor Tom Potter (who recently endorsed Eileen Brady), the last police chief to successfully win the right to run the city—noting Reese's, as he put it, penchant for collaboration, appropriate slavishness to process, and listening.

"He is everything that Tom Potter wanted to be, or couldn't be."

Leonard really is fond of Reese and, though he won't say it outright, probably is among those urging him to run. "He's one of the most decent people I've ever met," Leonard says, calling Reese the best chief Portland has had since Leonard, leaving council in 2013, has ever seen in his long political career.

Updates 12:45 PM: What does Mayor Sam Adams—another dear ally of Leonard's—have to say?

He says Reese would make a good mayor, calling him "forward thinking" and "progressive" with "incredible smarts." But Adams says he hasn't even pondered whom he might endorse and that he isn't necessarily pushing Reese to run. "No, I'm letting him make up his own mind."

One reason why, I suspect? Yvonne Deckard, the city's human resources director, says it will be almost impossible for Reese, as a city employee, not an elected official, to run for such a major office without taking a leave of absence or burning through all his vacation time and earned leave. She told reporters, especially for a 24/7 job like Reese's, that "nights and weekends" wouldn't cut it. Update: Or, he could just retire. He's 54, which makes him old among cops; of course, the longer he works, the fatter his pension would be.)/

Adams said, when I asked him, that a replacement for Reese atop the Portland Police Bureau was something the two discussed, among many of "the questions [Reese] needs answers to."

Update 1:05 PM:
Some other council reaction, after the cut.

Commissioner Nick Fish said he won't comment yet, because he hasn't spoken yet with Reese about his plans. But Dan Saltzman and Amanda Fritz both offered brief sentiments.

Saltzman said he thinks Reese "would make a good mayor," but then quickly made sure to add: "I think other people would make a good mayor, too."

I asked him if he felt Reese had demonstrated adequate non-police policy chops, and Saltzman said Reese strikes him as somebody who's been engaged with community issues, but hedged again, saying, "I don't know him out of his police role."

As for whether it's too late to raise money, he hesitated. "I don't think it is."

Fritz, as you might expect, was way more keen to talk about her good political news today. When she did address the mayoral race, she said Reese was a "wonderful" police chief, but worried he would find it difficult to balance that job with his political ambitions.

"I'm finding it difficult myself to to have a full-time job and campaign"—even though commissioners face fewer restrictions than city employees do when running for office, says Fritz, who was a part-time nurse during her previous council runs. "It takes time to get even $5 or $50 contributions."