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Sources: Novick, Knight make nice

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They say politics makes strange bedfellows. A case in point: Commissioner Steve Novick and Nike CEO Phil Knight.

On Thursday, Novick announced that Nike had committed $10 million to finally start the long-stalled Portland bike share program. The five-year sponsorship commitment allows Nike to puts its logo on the new rental bikes.

But just six years ago, Novick was a main spokesman for two ballot measures opposed by Knight. As a liberal political activist, Novick campaigned in favor of ballot measures 66 and 67, which were approved by the voters in January 2010 and raised taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

The biggest contributor against the measures? Knight, who donated $150,000 to the losing campaign to defeat them.

Politcal courage or foolishness?

But Novick is not a conventional politician. The most recent proof is his willingness to run for re-election while championing a gas tax measure for Portland streets that also will appear on the May primary election ballot.

The thought of having such a measure appear on the ballot was enough to spook other council members in the past. For example, then-Commissioner Charlie Hales convinced the council to approve a $1.85 monthly residential street fee in 2001, but then convinced them to repeal the charge after opponents collected enough signatures to force a public vote.

In 2008, then-Commissioner Sam Adams persuaded the City Council to approve a $4.29 monthly street fee, but backtracked and had it repealed a week later after a referendum threat. Adams would have appeared on the same ballot as a candidate for mayor — an election he won.

Emmons to challenge Novick

Another candidate is expected to challenge Novick when architect Stuart Emmons announces against him on Jan. 19.

Emmons, who started the Emmons Design architecture and planning firm, also is known as co-founder of Friends of the Memorial Coliseum, which is seeking to preserve the iconic Portland spectator facility.

Novick has proposed replacing the coliseum with affordable housing, but Emmons says that is not the only reason he is running, citing a long record of community involvement, including volunteering with Portland schools.

His first joint appearance with Novick is expected to be the Jan. 26 Candidates Forum for Arts & Culture hosted by the Regional Arts & Culture Council at the Gerding Theater at the Armory, 128 N.W. 11th Ave.

Novick, who is serving his first term on the council, also is opposed by Michael Durrow, Shannon Eastbrook and Joseph Puckett. The election could be won in the primary if any candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote.