City Council Race 2024

Here's Who's Running for Portland City Council in 2024

As the city gears up for a new government structure and a 12-person council, candidates are kicking off campaigns for a pivotal 2024 election.

Meet Your Portland 2024 Mayoral Candidates

Here's who wants to be Portland's next mayor.

Dan Ryan Will Run for City Council in District 2

While his colleagues run for mayor, Ryan is aiming to continue serving as a city council member.

Meet the Portland City Council Candidates: District 3

These candidates are running in the district located mostly in inner Southeast Portland.

Former City Commissioner Steve Novick Eyes Return to City Hall

Novick is running to represent District 3, after a former stint on Portland City Council.

Meet the Portland City Council Candidates: District 1

These candidates are running in the district encompassing East Portland.

Dan Ryan Rules Out Running for Portland Mayor

The city commissioner will decide whether to run for a council district by late January, as speculation swirls over who might challenge Mingus Mapps in 2024 race.

Rene Gonzalez Holds Sizable Fundraising Lead in Portland Mayor’s Race

With the city's Small Donor Elections program facing a budget shortfall, campaigns may have to adjust their strategy ahead of a pivotal election.

Meet the Portland City Council Candidates: District 4

These candidates are running in the district composed of Portland's west side and some Southeast neighborhoods.

Carmen Rubio Enters 2024 Portland Mayor's Race

The city commissioner is the third person on council to launch a campaign for mayor under Portland's new form of government.

Meet the Portland City Council Candidates: District 2

These candidates are running in the district located in North and Northeast Portland.

Rene Gonzalez Announces Bid For Portland Mayor

Known for his conservative policies, Gonzalez is the second on council to announce a 2024 mayoral campaign.

As the city’s Small Donor Elections funding dwindles during a pivotal election year, campaigns face greater pressure to court donors.

City Commissioner Rene Gonzalez has jumped out to a sizable fundraising advantage over fellow commissioners Mingus Mapps and Carmen Rubio in the race for Portland mayor. The mayoral candidate currently has more than double the funds of his opponents.

Gonzalez, who announced his candidacy in December, has already raised around $92,000, —with the vast majority of that money coming in the form of donations of $250 or greater. His campaign pulled in more than $80,000 just since December of 2023, state records show.

Mapps, who became the first major candidate to announce his bid for mayor last year, has received more donations of less than $25 than Gonzalez has, but far fewer donations of $250 or greater. Gonzalez’s average donation is roughly $50 higher than Mapps’. 

Mapps has received around $42,000 in total, while Rubio, who joined the mayoral race in early January, has raised around $18,000. 

The early fundraising numbers provide a measure of insight into the state of the race for mayor just more than nine months from Election Day, including into who the city’s wealthiest political power brokers may be lining up behind in the race to replace outgoing Mayor Ted Wheeler. 

“It just shows that the wealthier Portlanders who have been putting money behind dark money campaigns like People for Portland have made up their mind about who they want to see in the mayor's office,” Nick Caleb, a staff attorney at the Breach Collective and former city council candidate, said. 

Gonzalez, who defeated Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty to win election to the Portland City Council two years ago, has already received donations from the likes of Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle, former state lawmaker Betsy Johnson, and prominent real estate families like the Menashes, who own multiple commercial properties. 

Mapps, a former political science professor who, like Gonzalez, defeated a progressive incumbent to win a seat on council in 2020, has also largely aligned himself with the city’s downtown business interests. But it seems he’s been outflanked for the bulk of their support by his more conservative colleague. 

“They saw Rene beat Jo Ann Hardesty and rather than sort of see that as an aberration or something like that, they’re taking that as their model for politics,” Caleb said. “He’s their champion now; they think he can make citywide races. Why would wealthier conservatives pick somebody like Mapps who’s not fully their guy when Rene is like 100 percent conservative on every issue?”

In a statement provided to the Mercury, a spokesperson for Mapps’ campaign said the campaign is set up to be “efficient and cost effective.” 

“Our campaign is fueled by small donations and not large institutional money,” the statement reads. “Our plan has always been to listen to and meet with Portlanders and address their concerns, we are continuing to do so.”

A fourth candidate for mayor, Durrell Kinsey Bey, has reported about $1,800 in donations since he launched his campaign last summer.

The mayoral race is still taking shape just a month into the new year, and Rubio’s relatively recent entrance, combined with the rigors of the forthcoming campaign could change the dynamics of the money race. 

Already, candidates for mayor and city council participating in the Small Donor Elections program know that funding this year’s race may be considerably more challenging than it was for candidates in past races. 

The city’s Small Donor Elections program, designed to boost the viability of candidates without considerable personal wealth or connections to wealthy donors, is open to any candidate for city office who vows to accept individual campaign donations of less than $350. 

For participating candidates, the city then matches the first $20 of all individual donations at a nine-to-one rate, meaning that a $20 donation is actually worth $180. 

That kind of money can drastically change a candidate’s fundraising fortunes. In the 2020 mayoral campaign, for instance, Sarah Iannarone participated in the Small Donor Elections program and raised around $224,000—but received matching funds from the city that brought her total haul to more than $604,000. 

Iannarone was narrowly defeated in that election by Wheeler, who did not participate in the program and raised less than Iannarone despite loaning his campaign $150,000 of his own money.

This year, all three of the sitting city commissioners running for mayor are participating in the Small Donor Elections program. But how much money they can expect to bring in from the program has changed. 

In December, an analysis by the Portland Elections Commission found that the program is facing a significant budget shortfall in advance of an unprecedented election season that will include contests for 12 city council seats and mayor. 

According to the analysis, the maximum amount of money candidates will be able to collect in matching funds from the program could drop by as much as 60 percent. The program currently has around $3.8 million on hand to disburse in matching funds, while the number of candidates already participating in the program means they could require up to $9.2 million. 

That means mayoral candidates, who previously could raise up to $750,000 from the program, will now be capped at $300,000. 

The change could, conceivably, make the support of wealthy donors and outside political action groups that much more important this year with the power of small contributions reduced by the city’s budget shortfall.

The reduction in matching funds could have an even greater impact in city council races, where candidates are generally less well-known and can’t expect to receive the same level of free media coverage as mayoral candidates. 

In the past, participating council candidates who received more than 1,250 individual contributions from donors could get up to $300,000 in matching funds. Now, that number may be reduced to just $120,000. 

The reduction in matching funds available to candidates comes at the outset of what could be a transformative election cycle for Portland, as well as a fiscal year in which city council is reportedly preparing to make cuts across the city.

In future years, in which there will be considerably fewer city council races on the ballot, the Small Donor Elections program could see its funding level for candidates restored. This year, however, candidates may have to make do with less money—potentially increasing pressure on campaign staff as well as the importance of potential independent expenditures. 

But Caleb suggested that money alone might not make the difference it has in recent election cycles that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially given that city council races in this campaign will take place on a significantly smaller scale than in past years. 

“The politics [of the last several years] was very much about big money advertising and TV and things that it hadn't been as much about in previous years, and it remains to be seen whether that will change—I suspect it will now that people are encountering each other in person again,” he said.