The lawsuit alleging that Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith needs to resign in order to run for Portland City Council has been temporarily dismissed. But it's not dead yet.
The case hinges on what qualifies as "running" for a political position—is it a candidate's announcement of intent, or an official filing with the secretary of state? Seth Woolley, the man behind the suit, argues that because Smith began campaigning to fill outgoing City Comissioner Dan Saltzman's city council seat last year, she's required to give up her current seat on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners.
This morning, Woolley's case went before Judicial Officer Michael Greenlick, who dismissed the case due to a technical issue with the filing, though it's likely to be right back in court soon. “What this does is [Greenlick] dismisses the original and he says come right back with a new writ," Woolley says, "then it goes back to the same judge and the same process with an extra 10 days to respond.”
Woolley says he was granted a motion this week to amend the lawsuit and will likely have the amended version back in court next week. He says the litigation is likely to extend past the May 15 primary election.
Regardless of the outcome of the primary, Woolley says he intends to continue with the suit.
“Why are we electing somebody who just has no care for the law and particularly the charter?” he asks. "The point here is to hold people accountable to follow the rules, and if they just delay long enough to win an election that’s a bad precedent on its own.”
Woolley adds that Smith has also violated the campaign finance reform ballot measure that passed with 89 percent of the vote in 2016. The ballot measure isn't currently Oregon law because it was struck down by a judge this year, though advocates argue that politicians should abide by those rules anyway to follow the will of the voters.
If Woolley wins the suit, he wants Smith to resign from her position at the county and pay back her salary to the county for every day since she announced her campaign. “She was supposed to resign and failed to do her duty,” he says. Woolley also seeks repayment for his filing fees—about $800.