IN THE CALCULUS of campaigns, the setting seemed auspicious.
Hours after Amanda Fritz emailed Friday, April 15, that she'd be standing for reelection next year—ignoring the wishful gossip from detractors that she'd bow out—she was scheduled to personally announce her plans somewhere interesting: The lunchtime gala on the final day of the Oregon Nurses Association's (ONA) convention. Fritz was already appearing on a panel, and decided to slip the news into her remarks.
As stages go, it was hardly surprising. Fritz, who came to politics as a neighborhood activist, is a nurse by trade. These are her people. But then I wondered: Was Fritz also trying to cash in?
Not for nothing, ONA is a huge cash cow for progressive political candidates. Fritz, meanwhile, was the only non-incumbent ever to win under Portland's public campaign financing system. And voters last fall dumped that system—meaning Fritz might have to do something she hates: begging rich people for money.
Fritz, in an interview, set me straight. Yes, the system that got her elected is gone. But, no, she isn't selling out.
"I don't think I'm going to be asking unions for money," Fritz explained. "I haven't gone out of my way to make better friends with affluent people than with regular Portlanders."
So how the hell is Fritz planning to raise the tens of thousands she'll need to run? Turns out, she's pondering another way to keep from smooching asses in the Southwest Hills: reminding would-be supporters that Oregon awards a $50 tax credit to anyone, voter or not, Portlander or not, who contributes to campaigns.
She already persuaded 1,000 registered voters to give her $5 each, so "I hope I can find 1,000, or even 2,000, to lend me $50."
Fritz now has the power of incumbency. She also figures her record—she's often the lone "no" vote, fussy about diligence, delaying but rarely stopping things she doesn't like—will sell well with the Portlanders ("ratepayers," as she put it) she aims to chat up at house parties.
She'll tell them about Safer PDX, a program that's trying to keep cops from being first responders when 911 is called on someone in crisis. She's also got river cleanup and the new Office of Equity to chart out, both stretching into what would be a second term.
Her record is smaller, compared to commissioners in charge of constructing buildings and laying pipes. But Fritz says even the little stuff adds up. Her office privately counts more than 100 projects that her intervention, behind the scenes, has improved. When I asked, she wouldn't list them. But if she wants your $50, let's hope she tells you.