Home One community Race for city council grows even more hostile as election day approaches

Race for city council grows even more hostile as election day approaches


Portland’s most resented election race continues to escalate as Election Day approaches.

City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, the incumbent, and Rene Gonzalez, a lawyer and small business man who is running for political office for the first time, have been throwing incessant blows at each other for a month.

As the deadline to cast ballots approaches (it’s 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 8), here are some of the most recent spats.

1. Hardesty’s campaign unearthed a 2021 donation Gonzalez appears to have made to Republican PAC WinRed. Gonzalez took to Twitter to set the record straight: He had actually donated $50 to Nate Sandvig, who ran for Oregon’s sixth congressional district this spring but lost in the Republican primary. But that clarification may not have been the clap-back Gonzalez wanted it to be. Among the top priorities Sandvig lists in campaign materials are “Securing the Border,” “Dealing with the Woke Crowd,” and “Listening to Parents.” He is also pro-life.

Gonzalez says the campaign ignored donations he made to Democratic candidates in statewide races. In mid-October, he donated $1,000 to gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek’s campaign.

2. Gonzalez sent a cease and desist letter to the Hardesty campaign, alleging the campaign made “demonstrably false” allegations on its campaign materials. Among them: that Gonzalez uses Republican consultants and that he engaged in illegal activity by accepting downtown office space for $250 a month, for which he was initially fined $77,000. $ through the City’s Small Donor Election Program. (Last week, an administrative law judge overturned the entire fine.)

And yet, a flyer sent out this week by the Hardesty campaign doubled down on many of those same points, albeit this time through visual innuendo rather than written allegations. This flyer shows a preview of Gonzalez’s profile, then fills in on a number of names and phrases the Hardesty campaign claims he is linked to: Marjorie Taylor Greene, Texas Right to Life and the Oregon Republican Party. “Portland needs positive change, not a HARD RIGHT turn,” the flyer read.

3. The Hardesty campaign took to Twitter to claim that if Gonzalez is elected, Portland will “fall back into white supremacy and classist Oregon history.”

4. On November 2, Hardesty offered what could have been an olive branch. After Gonzalez’s campaign tried to draw a line between Hardesty’s rhetoric and smashed windows in Gonzalez’s office last weekend, it said in a statement several days later that any protest should be nonviolent.

“It saddens me to hear that someone feels unsafe at home or in their workplace,” Hardesty wrote. “I want to send a clear message to the people of Portland. We can speak out and create real change peacefully. I’ve seen us do it in the past. Please use our precious free speech rights and the power of your vote to support or oppose the candidates and issues that matter to you. We are one community, and when one of us is threatened or attacked, we all suffer.

5. The connection of this incident to racing is tenuous, but it’s still kind of funny. City Council voted on Thursday on five resolutions put forward by Mayor Ted Wheeler to address homelessness. Hardesty proposed a number of amendments to the resolutions. When it came time for Council to discuss its amendments, Commissioner Mingus Mapps, whose frosty relationship with Hardesty is no secret, bombarded it with numerous questions.

At one point, while discussing one of his amendments, Mapps said he was not doing “ambitious politics”. At that, Hardesty looked around briefly in disbelief, then remarked, “What a bastard.” The microphone was near his face – and turned on.