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Portland police chief considers jumping into mayors race

Mike Reese says several people have encouraged him to run

Portland Police chief, family man, rock band lead guitarist, loyal public servant and now future mayor of Portland?

Mike Reese, the city's police chief of 18 months, said Wednesday morning that he's considering jumping into the 2012 mayoral race. He will decide what to do within the next couple of weeks after talking with others in the community and having a longer conversation with his family.

'I was surprised when Mayor Adams decided not to run,' he told the Tribune Wednesday morning. 'I would support him - he's been a strong advocate for me, public safety.'

Reese said that while he loves being chief of police and is humbled by his post, he thinks the city needs a 'strong, capable leader' in the next four years.

Does that mean he doesn't think the three major candidates in the race - Charlie Hales, Eileen Brady and Jefferson Smith - fit that description?

'I don't have any comment on them,' he says. 'I'm certain they're all surprised' by his interest in the race.

He declined to talk about what his biggest priorities as a mayoral candidate might be, stressing that he isn't in the race yet.

What does Reese bring to the political table? He points to his 22-year record with the bureau. He wouldn't comment on the fact that if he entered the race, critics could use the police bureau's mishaps as an easy target.

'I lead a complex organization of 1,200 employees and oversee a $68 million budget,' he says. 'I've led the organization through tumultuous times, effectively.'

A daunting task

Willamette Week reported Wednesday that three sources close to Reese said he was considering a run. Reese says the newspaper's reporter did not contact him for a comment on the story.

After that news leaked, Reese said, he 'wants to set the story straight,' that indeed, a few nights ago, 'some folks I really respect asked me to run for mayor. They were very persuasive. I said I'd take it under consideration.'

Reese would not have to resign his post to pursue the candidacy, just refrain from campaign activity, including fundraising, while on the job.

That might cut down on his musical pursuits, since he is lead guitarist in a rock band called the 'Usual Suspects,' a nod to the criminal suspense movie as well as the fact that 'a bunch of us are in law enforcement.'

Leading the city as mayor, he says, is a 'daunting task,' but his ultimate question he'll be contemplating will be: 'Is this the right thing for the community?'

Upon appointing him police chief in May 2010, Adams heaped abundant praise upon Reese, saying: 'I don't know anybody in a position of leadership who is liked and respected universally, but Mike may be the closest person I've found in all my years of public service.'