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Akasha Lawrence Spence

Senator Akasha Lawrence Spence has dropped out of the race for Portland City Council. In a Tuesday evening campaign email, Lawrence Spence explained that "now is not the time and place" for her to serve on council.

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"I know we would have won this race," she continued, "and that's why it is so important for me to step away now, before the campaign season kicks off in full swing."

Lawrence Spence, who currently represents District 18 in the Oregon Senate, joined the race for City Commissioner Position 2 in November, promising to bring "transformative change" to City Hall. She was critical of the progress incumbent City Commissioner Dan Ryan, who is running for reelection, had made in his time on council. Lawrence Spence was appointed to the Senate shortly after announcing the council campaign, filing a midterm vacancy left by former Senator Ginny Burdick. That term is set to expire at the end of 2022, which would have aligned with the City Council term, which begins in January 2023.

In her Tuesday announcement, Lawrence Spence directed her supporters to instead back newly-announced candidate AJ McCreary in the Position 2 race. McCreary is currently the director of Equitable Giving Circle, a nonprofit geared toward economic equity among communities of color.

In her separate Tuesday campaign announcement, McCreary wrote that “We need someone in Position 2 who will open the doors to Portlanders who aren’t being served by our current approaches to the housing crisis and devastating economic inequality.”

“Too often I see Portlanders striving to make a difference for those most impacted by the crises we face today, only to get blocked or slowed down by local policy," she continued. "I’m answering the call from my community to be an agent for change, radical love, and transparency, and to bring Portland communities with me into City Hall.”

Lawrence Spence currently has just over $32,000 in her campaign coffers. She plans on returning all donations she's received for the City Council campaign.

Lawrence Spence is only the latest candidate to drop out of the May 17 race against Ryan. Earlier this month, candidates Brandon Farley and Jamila Dozier also announced their departure from the city race.