PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith said during a news conference that he was involved in a 1993 incident where he ended up striking a woman at a college party, although he claims he acted in self-defense.
The incident was first reported by the Willamette Week on Monday afternoon.
Smith said the altercation happened at a party between his sophomore and junior year of college. He said a woman he didn’t know was sleeping on a couch when somebody pushed her off the couch. The woman came at Smith swinging, thinking he had pushed her.
During the altercation Smith said he fought back, struck the woman and injured her.
“It happened pretty fast,” Smith said. “I was trying to get her away. Obviously I made contact.”
Smith was cited for assault, but those charges were later dropped, according to the Willamette Week. Smith settled with the woman out of court and agreed to pay for her medical bills.
“I wanted to make sure she was okay and to take responsibility,” Smith said.
He described the night as “the worst night of my life.”
Lara Larson, a high school classmate of Smith's, also spoke at the news conference to defend him.
"She came at him," Larson said. "He did what any one of us would have done in that situation."
Smith also criticized the tone of the campaign, saying too much focus has been made on past issues and not enough time spent talking about the future of the city.
He has come under criticism before for past transgressions, including driving suspensions and punching a player during a pick-up basketball game.
“I knew this race was going to be tough when we got in; I knew I lived an imperfect life and I didn’t know how it was going to turn out,” Smith said.
He vowed to stay in the race and "continue to move forward."
"I think that if I were voting for the 20-year-old me I probably wouldn't make that person mayor of our city," Smith said. "But that's not the pesron who's running. It's the me now."