Former U.S. Senate candidate announces hours after commissioner decides not to seek re-election

Political activist Steve Novick began running for Commissioner Randy Leonard's seat on the City Council mere hours after Leonard announced he would not seek re-election in 2012.

Novick told the Portland Tribune that Leonard confided in him about his decision several days ago. Novick worked for Leonard at the Oregon Legislature and has kept in touch ever since.

Novick came to public prominence when he ran against Jeff Merkley for the 2008 Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate seat held by Gordon Smith. Merkley won the primary and the race against Smith that year. Novick carried Portland in the primary election.

On his new website,, Novick says he is running because he recognizes Portland's problems.

Among other things, on his website, Novick cited the city's poor job market, budget-battered schools and rising health care costs. He also pointed to the economic divide between rich and poor and public safety issues.

Novick grew up in Cottage Grove, attended Harvard Law School and worked for law firms in New York and San Francisco. He returned to Oregon in 1996 and became chief of staff for the Oregon Senate Democrats. He has since worked with several liberal political groups, such as Citizens for Oregon's Future, and as a contract employee for the Oregon Health Authority.

He will take some time off from that job and return part-time during the campaign.

Other rumored candidates include state Rep. Mary Nolan and Shelli Romero, a public policy coordinator with the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Fox 12 contributed to this news story.

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