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Sho biz: Three weeks to find 1,500 friends

Sources Say

Sho Dozono has set a challenging goal for himself by trying to qualify for public campaign funds in his run for Portland mayor.

Dozono will have to collect 1,500 individual $5 contributions from registered city voters by the end of the month, just a little more than three weeks after he formally announced his candidacy.

Political insiders already have expressed doubts that any candidates for Erik Sten's City Council seat can collect the 1,000 contributions required for commission races.

If Dozono can pull it off in the mayor's race, he will have demonstrated an impressive level of grass-roots support and put to bed any rumors that he is only a business-backed candidate.

On the other hand, if he fails to collect enough contributions, Dozono opens himself up to accusations that he lacks widespread public support. At the same time, leading mayoral candidate Sam Adams will have a hard time raising the issue himself since he is not going the public campaign financing route.

Sten's step down spurs many steps up

Meanwhile, Commissioner Erik Sten's unexpected resignation is shaking up the May primary election for all the council seats.

Already announcing for the seat are lawyer Nick Fish, Commissioner Dan Saltzman aide Brendan Finn and two candidates from other City Hall races - planning consultant Nick Popenuk, who is switching from the mayor's race, and small-business owner Howard Weiner, who's jumping from the race for Adams' seat.

Meanwhile, Tom Markgraf, a consultant and former aide to Democratic U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, plans to decide this week whether he'll run.

Still to be decided is how the public campaign program will apply to the race for Sten's seat. The citizens commission overseeing the program will meet Monday to discuss whether to recommend that the council extend the deadline for collecting qualifying contributions past the end of the month, and whether candidates in other races can transfer the signatures they've already collected to it.

Street-fee foes ready to fight

It's looking increasingly likely that Adams' mayoral race will be complicated by another campaign - a drive to refer his proposed street maintenance fee to the ballot.

Lobbyists representing gas stations and convenience stores say they are likely to mount a referral campaign if the City Council enacts the fee after Wednesday's one and only public hearing on it.

'At this point, we are leaning toward referring it to the ballot if the council approves it,' said Danelle Romain, who along with her father, Paul, represents the Oregon Petroleum Association.

Referral would require 18,135 valid voter signatures gathered within 30 days of the fee being adopted, which could happen as early as Jan. 16.

-Tribune staff

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