Wheeler kicks off campaign for Portland Mayor, talks endorsements

Ted Wheeler officially kicked off his campaign for Portland Mayor with a big party Wednesday night preceded by a big announcement earlier in the day.

Three former Portland Mayors have endorsed Wheeler for the position: three-term mayor Vera Katz, Tom Potter, and Sam Adams.

"To have three of the last people who held this job saying they're confident in my leadership, they believe in my vision that they think I have the ability to make progress. That's a pretty good place to start," Wheeler said before walking in to his campaign kick-off party Wednesday night at Union/Pine in Southeast Portland.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales sent a statement to KATU News through a campaign staffer in response to Wheeler's endorsements:

When you take office and have to make some big changes, it can certainly ruffle some feathers - especially with the people you have followed.

I stand by my accomplishments as Mayor, including moving the city out of a $21 million financial hole and balancing the budget, taking historic action to address a homeless situation that has been creeping up on Portland for a decade, and making tangible inroads in increasing affordable housing such as the introduction of a demolition tax. We have had to address issues that were a long time in building.

I appreciate that Mr. Wheeler has been hard at work on his campaign. I remain hard at work at City Hall and in the community tackling the very real issues facing Portlanders on a daily basis and making the kind of progressive change I was elected to do.

Pacific University Political Science Professor Jim Moore told KATU News Wheeler's endorsements from Katz, Potter, and Adams are significant even though it's early-on in the campaign.

Katz flip-flopped her endorsement from 2012 when she backed Hales. And, Adams didn't endorse anyone four years ago.

"He's got people who say he's the better choice and people who have sat in that chair before so it's important right now but in the long run, we'll have to see. It's quite frankly whatever wheeler is able to do with those endorsements," Moore said.

And Wheeler gets that.

"I think it's a sign of credibility. Nobody wins an election on endorsements," Wheeler said.

Wheeler touched on his leadership roles as former Multnomah County Commission Chair and on his current role as Oregon's State Treasurer at his campaign kick-off party.

He also talked about the big issues: homelessness, street maintenance, and creating jobs.

"We are revved upMay the better candidate win," Wheeler said.

A crowd of a couple of hundred people also had a chance to voice their own concerns for the city to Wheeler by writing them on huge sheets of butcher paper. A spokesman for Wheeler's campaign told KATU News they will take that input and use it in future discussions with the community.

Wheeler announced his bid for office last month.

"At the end of the day the public gets to decide whether or not we've made the progress that they want us to make," Wheeler said.

Neither Wheeler nor Hales campaigns have filed paperwork to run for mayor according to the City Auditor's Office. They have until the end of March 2016.

Two other candidates have filed: Steven J. Entwisle Sr. and Lew Humble.

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