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No cash, no problem: Minor candidates seek mayoral spotlight

Max Brumm isn't the only minor candidate for mayor eager for some of the spotlight.

The Tribune contacted the others and heard from three of them. Among them: Howie Rubin, 57, a native New Yorker who's lived in Portland since 1989 and calls himself 'the original Naked Chef.' And two bespectacled 22-year-old college students: Sam Belisle and Max Bauske, who are plugged into social media but otherwise have no plans to raise money for their campaigns.

'I won't be holding fundraisers or actively seeking donations, and I'm not accepting any money from PACs or businesses,' says Bauske, who's taken shots at Brumm by calling himself the 'real Max for mayor.'

'Unlike Max Brumm, I won't be getting my mom to complain if I'm not invited to a debate,' Bauske says.

Bauske, a Franklin High graduate, works as a grocery clerk at Hawthorne Fred Meyer and is a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers' Local 555, which makes him the only union member running for mayor.

He's at Portland Community College now, planning to transfer to Portland State University to study accounting. He's a live music fan who wants to organize a fundraising concert, like Brumm has.

Policy-wise, he has some bold ideas, including fighting federal regulations and trying to propose a state ballot measure to revise the tax-limiting measures 5 and 50, trying to route residents' property taxes back to their local schools.

'If voters are unimpressed with the three main candidates, I want them to have a credible alternative on the ballot,' Bauske says. 'I think I have a good perspective to add to this conversation, and I don't have to second-guess myself based on what a campaign donor will think of what I'm saying.'

• • •

Also unconcerned with money is Howie Rubin, whose life story includes a bit of everything, like Forrest Gump.

Unlike the Food Network's popular Jamie Oliver -who prepares ingredients simply, hence the name - Rubin had a cable access improv show in the '90s, using the name in a more literal fashion.

'I was naked,' he says. 'I wore a little apron. Grease splatters. I had some plants (as props), a chair. ... It was comical and to be quite honest, when I walked around Portland, people would say, 'I know you, you're the Naked Chef.' '

The show lasted four years, until BBC contacted him about his trademark and copyright for the Naked Chef name. They were promoting Oliver, an up-and-coming young British chef, who's since built an empire on the Naked Chef name.

Get Rubin talking and he can share stories like that all day. An insurance salesman who lives in North Portland, he's running on a platform of 'common decency' and customer service.

Besides the TV stint, he's been a teacher and a counselor, a school bus and truck driver and started an organic food co-op in New York City before most people knew what the term meant.

When friends in Portland raved about his lasagna, he started working with Oregon State University's Food Innovation Center and co-created an event called the American Food Fight in Portland, which helps local food entrepreneurs commercialize their products.

Rubin also started a garden center in his neighborhood years ago, and is hoping his neighbors and local businesses will support efforts to put up a few signs.

He's well aware that he has no following, funds or Facebook page to make inroads. But he has a Segway, and a story to tell-many, in fact.

'People are tired,' he says. 'I'm fed up. I'm a working guy. I'm tired of listening to all this stuff. When I get my foot in the door, I create change.'

• • •

The other student in the race, Sam Belisle - no relation to Portland School Board member Greg Belisle - moved to Portland five years ago after high school in Alaska. He's been married for nearly a year, taking classes at Concordia University while working as a manager at Red Robin.

When pressed about his platform and differences between his views and those of other candidates, Belisle says he's for East Portland, helping small businesses and listening to individuals, not organizations.

On his Facebook page (sambelisleformayor2012), he issued a plea this week: 'I need questions that Portlanders need answered!'

Yes, he's been told he's crazy and in over his head. He shrugs it off. 'Anyone who's going to try and assume leadership of Portland is in many ways getting in over his head.'

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