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Sten ought to pay back public funds

As we said in Tuesday’s Portland Tribune, we can understand how city Commissioner Erik Sten might feel that it is time to do something else. Sten has been an employee of the city since 1989 and an elected member of the City Council since 1996. However, his decision to parachute to safety in early April — 33 months before his term expires — does come at a price. Sten’s early departure greatly devalues the $173,623 in public campaign financing that he received and spent running for an office that the public intended the winning candidate to occupy for a full four-year term. Given that expectation, we suggest that Sten repay the city the public campaign funds commensurate with the time in office that he will not complete. If he resigns April 1, Sten’s repayment would amount to $119,370. This money should go to help provide public campaign financing for those candidates who will seek to fill Sten’s uncompleted term. After all, Portlanders should not pay twice for someone to be elected to the same council seat.