PORTLAND, Ore. – A group of citizens who claim Portland Mayor Sam Adams lied to get elected gathered in southeast Portland on Thursday to kick off their effort to kick him out of office.
Members of the “Community To Recall Sam Adams” say Adams willfully lied about his relationship with teenage intern Beau Breedlove and he needs to be held accountable for his civic and ethical dishonesty. READ MORE ABOUT THE ADAMS SCANDAL
Organizers of Thursday’s event at Nick’s Famous Coney Island restaurant said they wanted to spread the word about their efforts. And they gathered a standing-room only crowd that spilled outside the small establishment - though it was unclear how many were simply patrons uninterested in the recall. While organizers have a number of people already involved, they are hoping other citizens will sign up too.
Adams has refused initial requests for his resignation, saying he’ll wait for the results of an investigation by the Oregon Attorney General’s Office. But until then, organizers of the recall effort say they plan to attend every public event Adams attends to make their presence known.
Recall effort faces challenges
The recall effort faces tough challenges, such as collecting enough signatures to get the issue on the ballot.
Organizers can learn from the failed effort in 2002 to recall Portland School Board member Derry Jackson. He had made anti-Semitic remarks, failed to pay his property taxes and went to jail for violating a restraining order held by his wife.
The recall effort got off to a gung-ho start, but then reality hit.
Chief Petitioner Jeff Muir had to come up with more than 22,000 signatures just to get the chance to put Jackson to a recall vote. He either had to find hundreds of volunteers or hire people to collect signatures. The problem? Money.
“What was lacking was the support, the vocal and public support, of the community's leadership, particularly elected officials,” Muir said then. “When those individuals chose to not address this in a responsible way, that had a direct impact on the size of the checks.”
Just seven weeks into the effort to gather signatures, the group called it quits.
Organizers: No paid signature gatherers
But the people behind the Adams recall effort said they are not hiring paid signatures.
“Our recall is based in the neighborhoods,” said Jason Wurster of RecallSamAdams.com. “We’re doing what’s called a neighbor-to-neighbor campaign.”
That means they are hoping to get 2,000 volunteers to collect signatures.
Even if they get that many people, they will still face the fact that very few local leaders have called for Adams to step down - not fellow council members, not the governor and not former Mayor Vera Katz, who was Adams’ mentor.
But since they are trying to recall a mayor rather than a school board member, they are likely to garner more attention, volunteers and signatures.
The Recall Sam Adams group thinks grassroots opposition will pull them through.
"A lot of media have called for his resignation,” Wurster said. “The Oregonian, twice. Just Out (newspaper) was one of the first. So a lot of the people's voices … have already called for his resignation. It seems like our leaders aren't listening."
What steps are involved in a recall?
What’s next for their recall effort? They can submit their prospective recall petition on July 1. Then they have 90 days to collect more than 32,000 signatures from the pool of 355,000 eligible Portland voters.
The city then has 10 days to certify the signatures, and, if that happens, Adams has five days to decide whether to voluntarily resign. If he chooses not to, there’s 35 days for a campaign.
If all that happens, it could be mid-November before there’s a recall vote.