Portland’s new mayor steps in

Presenting Tom Potter to the crowd Monday night, judge Sidney Galton described the newly sworn-in Portland mayor this way: "I first knew him as chief. He’s now known as mayor. But to all Portlanders, he’s always been known as Tom."

Monday’s induction ceremonies for Portland’s newest official stressed Potter’s and new City Commissioner Sam Adams’ openness, accessibility and commitment to public service. Both ceremonies had a distinctly congratulatory tone, incorporating praise and humor and sometimes glossing over the less pretty aspects of the individual campaigns.

Notably, though mayoral candidate Jim Francesconi had urged Portlanders to unite behind Potter since election night, neither he nor Nick Fish, Adams’ opponent for the city commissioner post, took part in the ceremonies.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman praised Potter’s inclusiveness, saying holding the ceremony at David Douglas High School instead of City Hall is just one of many ways Potter seeks to make city politics more accessible. He commented that the Potter victory had strengthened his belief that "grassroots politics, a compelling vision and hard work are more important than money."

Commissioner Randy Leonard offered Potter some wry advice based on his own City Hall experiences.

"Don’t put anything in your trash you don’t want to read about in Willamette Week," he joked. "If Steve Duin calls you, call him back. If Lars Larson calls you, don’t call back."

Commissioner Erik Sten congratulated Portlanders on their choice of mayor and asked the crowd to recognize Katz’s "12 dynamite years."

After prolonged applause Katz took the spotlight to offer Potter some advice of her own. "I wouldn’t return Steve Duin’s call if I were you," she said.

Katz recalled her own excitement and trepidation when starting the job. "You can’t do it alone," she said to Potter. "Fortunately there are many good citizens – many in this room – waiting to help."

"You don’t need to agree with everything he says," Katz told the audience. "I don’t. I still want major league baseball."

"Oh, now you clap," she said after scattered applause. "Where were you?"

Potter thanked his supporters and launched into a short but emotional speech about improving life in Portland.

"Our children have become our equivalent of canaries in the coal mine. Every child needs nurturing and loving adults, a roof over their heads, a full stomach, good health and a good education to achieve their full potential in life. We must and we will turn this around."

"I am deeply honored to be your public servant and mayor," Potter said. "I love you, Portland!"

Many of the star guests hurried away from Potter’s reception to get to Sam Adams’ swearing in at the Native American Student and Community Center at PSU.

"Sam doesn’t seem to realize there are boundaries between neighborhoods and cultures," Erik Szeto of the Asian American Coalition said. He and others said they appreciated Adams’ outreach to diverse communities.

Unlike Tom Potter, the new city commissioner faced a tough battle. Adams finished 11 points behind Nick Fish in the primaries. It’s the first time in decades a second place finisher has won the seat, Galton said, and Adams is the first openly gay city commissioner in Portland history.

After introducing his family and thanking Vera, his boss of 11 years, Adams took time in his speech to get to specifics about his plans, with a special focus on improving Portland’s job market.

"I want the next big business breakthrough to come from here," he said.

Part of the revitalization will come from diversifying outside of the high technology sector, investing in education and paying attention to the needs of the creative community, he said.

"I’m going to be an advocate for the arts. It’s not an asterisk in terms of what makes this city great."

"As a candidate I feel like I’ve been yapping nonstop for the past 16 months," Adams said. "And I can’t tell you how excited I am to get to work."