Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit - Live at Keller Auditorium March 4!
Jason Isbell has established himself as one of the most respected songwriters of his generation. Don’t miss Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, March 4th at Keller Auditorium!

Sarah Iannarone is making clear she's come to win.

Sure, Iannarone's name won't be as familiar to many Portlanders as others in the race to replace Charlie Hales as Portland's mayor. Her history of public service and civic engagement isn't as robust—limited largely to advocating in and for her Southeast Portland neighborhood. But as she formally announced her candidacy this morning, 42-year-old Iannarone—a Portland State University employee and doctoral candidate studying sustainable cities, and co-owner of Arleta Library Bakery and Cafe—painted plans for a campaign built on aggressive fundraising and "coalition building" to solve Portland's issues.

"I'm going to need to raise serious money to compete against Ted Wheeler," Iannarone said, talking up goals to raise a couple hundred thousand dollars in mere weeks (!). "I'm going to be able to do that. I'm going to every corner of the city to make that possible."

Included in those corners, Iannarone made clear, is the business community—the support of which has been a double edged sword at times in Portland politics. The conventional example: Jim Francesconi's overwhelming loss to Tom Potter in 2004's mayoral race, despite outspending his competitor by a wide margin.

"I don't owe anyone anything," Iannarone said. "I'm trying to build coalitions. How do you think we're going to find funding for roads?"

The decision reflects the realities of running a mayoral race in Portland, but it's also interesting in light of stances the race's more-prominent candidates have taken. State Treasurer Ted Wheeler has been hoovering up cash ever since he announced in September (when he thought he was taking on a well-heeled Hales). He's raised $330,000 or so since. Multnomah County Commissioner Jules Bailey has tried to set a more populist tone, limiting contributions to $250 and collecting 100 signatures rather than paying a $50 filing fee.

Portland pretty much agrees on what its most pressing issues are these days, and Iannarone's brief speech outside of City Hall this morning didn't stray too far: growing inequity, homelessness, expensive housing, and paltry road funding all featured heavily. Iannarone criticized the city's commission form of government (which voters have neglected to do away with time and time again) and suggested the City Council is fractured, relying too heavily on simple majority votes rather than consensus-building. (Such 3-2 decisions are hardly weekly features, but they've cropped up on some important issues—like letting Uber into town).

"The Portland we love is growing and changing dramatically before our eyes," Iannarone said this morning. "The growing pains are intense."

The logo on Iannarone's website is probably telling. It's a rendering of the new Tilikum Crossing bridge, which famously doesn't allow car traffic. Iannarone, talking to's Jonathan Maus after her speech, avowed support for Vision Zero—the movement to eliminate serious traffic injuries in Portland— but also talked about "stopping all these idling internal combustion engines downtown at all times of the day."

"I think we need to uncongest downtown, and we need to do it quickly."

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Iannarone also made clear that reports Charlie Hales had recruited her to run are incorrect. She works with Hales' wife, Nancy, at PSU's First Stop Portland program, but says the decision to run was all hers. Hales merely offered encouragement when she told him.

"I've been watching for a very, very, very long time," she said of her decision. "I don't want Ted Wheeler to be my mayor."

With Iannrone's announcement, the mayor's race now has at least 10 candidates. We'll be providing more info on all of them as the May 17 primary approaches.

SLAY Film Fest
In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 & 10/30