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Theres no mistaking election season

On the Town

With two and a half months to go before the primary election, things are starting to pick up.

Why, just last week, City Council candidate Charles Lewis received permission from the city elections office to use city money to fix potholes.Now there's a concept

The money in question, of course, is the so-called 'clean money' that the city is now doling out to candidates who come up with the required number of signatures.

And Lewis, bless his heart, is using at least some of the $145,000 he got to fix the city's streets. Talk about street smarts - this guy's got 'em.

If his chief opponent, the stern and detail-oriented Amanda Fritz, is the local version of Hillary Clinton, then Lewis, who holds a master's degree from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, probably is our Barack Obama.

In the end, it may come down to the question of who you want handling that dreaded 3 a.m. call from a paving contractor, Lewis or Fritz?

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And then there's the race for the seat being vacated by Erik Sten, the father of P-town's clean money program.

Vying to take his place are labor lawyer Nick Fish, who came within a few percentage points of winning a council seat last time out, and Sten's chief of staff, Jim Middaugh.

Not surprisingly, Middaugh is running as the natural heir to the Sten legacy and as a proponent of Sten's public financing scheme.

It remains to be seen what he'll say if anyone asks about public officials who quit midterm after spending $173,623 in public money to get themselves re-elected - which is just what his boss is doing.

Since this is Portland, however, everyone probably will be too polite to even bring it up.

• • •

And how could we forget about the race for mayor between incumbent city Commissioner Sam Adams and political upstart Sho Dozono.

A Portland Tribune poll taken a month ago showed Adams leading by about 20 percentage points. However, Dozono is clearly picking up steam.

Before we're finished we might have another Tom Potter vs. Jim Francesconi race on our hands. Or maybe even Bud Clark vs. Frank Ivancie.

In a medium-size city like P-town, personalities do matter.

Last week, when the current mayor, Tom Potter, held a news conference to endorse Dozono, he made no attempt to hide his personal dislike for Adams.

Later that day, in his own news conference, Adams made clear that he didn't think much of Potter, either. So there.

Potter also said that, of the two candidates, Dozono is the one who 'knows the value of a dollar.' This, too, is sure to be an issue in the coming days - if only because both candidates acknowledge that the city has fallen millions of dollars behind in street and sewer repairs.

Which, of course, raises the nagging question of how anyone can ask for a tax increase to pay for all that after requesting $500,000 in 'surplus' city funds to send the Oregon Ballet Theatre back East to perform at the Kennedy Center.

In the end, we'll probably do what we always do in these situations. That is, put a picture of each candidate on the wall - one of Adams and one of Dozono - and ask ourselves the question:

Would I buy a used car from this man?

Contact Phil Stanford by phone, 503-546-5166, or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..