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Smith throws his hat in the ring for mayor of Portland


38-year-old Jefferson Smith, who represents east Portland in the Oregon House of Representatives, declared to run for Portland mayor last month.
A candidate with Mid-county sensibilities has entered the race to replace Mayor Sam Adams in Portland. Jefferson Smith, 38, a state representative from east Portland, announced earlier this month he is running for the mayor's office in 2012 and has begun a campaign to win Portlanders hearts, minds and votes.

In a statement e-mailed to the media, Smith said he is running for mayor because he believes, “Portland can be the city it aspires to be.” It goes on, “We can have big vision and work in small and real ways. We can be prosperous, sustainable and fair,” he said.

Smith joins former city Commissioner Charlie Hales and New Seasons co-founder Eileen Brady as the major candidates to replace Adams, who announced last month he is not seeking re-election. Smith said he welcomes the competition that will come from Hales and Brady.

In the campaign's first week, Smith said he received more than 200 donors support, contributing over $30,000 in amounts of $1,000 or less.

“The way we campaign sets the stage for how we govern,” said Smith, in the news release. “Our campaign shouldn't just be a marketing effort to gain power; campaigns should be conversations about where we want to go as a city and how we're going to get there.”

According to an investigation by the Oregonian, public records show Smith rarely voted before 2002, a fact he acknowledged. “I didn't vote while I was away at law school and clerking, but I've voted in every general, primary and special election, but one, since 2002 - I think that's a pretty good record.”

Some do not agree. “I've voted in every election since I turned 21;” even when in the military, said 83-year-old Jim Crockford, a Mid-county resident for over 50 years. “Back then, the voting age was 21, but I think it's everybody's responsibility to vote in every election as soon as they come of age, whether or not they decide to run for office some day.”

Smith attended Portland public schools and the University of Oregon. He graduated from Harvard Law School. Best known as founder of Oregon's “Bus Project,” a non-profit dedicated to engaging young people in progressive politics and, ironically, voter registration, Smith succeeded Jeff Merkley - now a U.S. Senator - in 2008 in Oregon House District 47.
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