Sam Adams recall, Portland, Oregon, 2010

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Two separate efforts to recall Sam Adams from his position as Mayor of Portland, Oregon in 2009-2010 failed.[1][2][3]

To force an election on whether to recall Adams, recall supporters would have had to obtain about 32,500 signatures of Portland voters. A recall effort has 90 days in which to collect signatures representing 15% of all votes cast in the city during the state's most recent gubernatorial campaign.[4][5]

The energy behind recalling Adams began in January 2009 when he admitted to a sexual relationship with a young political supporter after having denied this relationship for several years. Adams did not resign from his position in the wake of the revelation, sparking the recall effort. The first recall effort was abandoned short of its goal in mid-2009. A second effort was launched in January 2010. Organizers of this effort said on April 20, 2010 that they had not been able to collect enough signatures to force a vote on the recall question.[6][7]


Adams admitted to a relationship with Beau Breedlove after Willamette Week reported on Jan. 19 that Adams may have lied in 2007, when he denied having sex with Breedlove in 2005. Adams denied the charge after a political opponent brought it up, but now says he and Breedlove had sex after Breedlove turned 18.[6]

At the time of the revelations, Adams had not yet served in office for six months. Laws governing the recall process in Oregon say that signatures cannot be collected on a recall petition until the office-holder has served in the office for at least six months. In the case of Adams, July 1, 2009 represented that date on which he had served for six months.

Second recall effort

After the first recall attempt did not collect sufficient signatures to qualify for the ballot, a second recall effort was initiated. Signature collection began in January 2010. The signature deadline was April 20, 2010.[8]

Leaders of the second recall effort said at the outset of their effort that they might spend up to $250,000 ensuring that enough signatures are collected to force a recall vote; however, that level of funding never materialized.[9]

Recall supporters

Leaders of the second recall effort included:

  • Former state Sen. Avel Gordly is the chief petitioner and spokesperson of the 2nd recall attempt. According to Gordly: "The money is there, the volunteers are there, and these efforts will allow voters to decide how Portland will go forward."[10][11][12]
  • Tim Boyle, CEO and president of Columbia Sportswear. "His basic position is that he feels the voters deserve the opportunity to voice their collective opinion on the recall topic. Whatever the outcome, he feels it's appropriate that voters have the opportunity to make their feelings known on it," said Ron Parham, senior director of investor relations and communications for the sportswear company.[1]
  • Ron Tonkin, president and chief executive of the Ron Tonkin Family of Dealerships, said that he too supports the recall effort. "There's been so much talk and turmoil over this whole thing that I think the citizens have a right to revisit the issue and make their wishes known," said Tonkin.[13][14]
  • Andrew Miller, CEO of Portland-based Stimson Lumber[15]
  • Peter Stott, former CEO of Crown Pacific Partners and current CEO of the Portland real estate firm SKB[15]
  • Beau Breedlove. Adams had a romantic relationship with Breedlove when Breedlove was an intern, falsely denying that anything sexual had occurred. Adams' later admission that he had lied is what motivated the first recall campaign targeting Adams. In March 2010, Breedlove contacted organizers of the second recall effort and said he wanted to help them out.[16]

Recall statement

Laws governing the recall process in Oregon require that a recall's chief petitioner file a statement when the recall commences in which they are to lay out their main reasons for desiring a recall. The statement filed by chief petition Gordly says:

"Sam Adams has lied to us. He lied and then covered up his actions to get elected mayor. He lied repeatedly after admitting the affair and cover up with Beau Breedlove. A Mayor cannot in good faith move forward and continue city business without the trust of the people. This is about the reflection our city's character. We have no idea how many missed opportunities our city has had with the current crippled leadership. It is time we restore integrity to the Mayor's office. Sam Adams has broken our trust. He must be recalled."

The campaign committee in charge of the second recall effort announced in late March that they had made the decision to hire paid signature gatherers in order to reach their goal of collecting the needed signatures by April 20, 2010.[17]

1st recall attempt

Portland City Council hearing January 28, 2009

Petition drive

The first attempt to force a recall vote on Adams was led by Jason Wurster. The petition drive started in early July 2009.[18] Recall supporters failed to gather enough signatures for a recall election.[2]

Public opinion

The Portland Business Journal conducted a poll in mid-July 2009 asking, "Will you sign the petition to recall Portland Mayor Sam Adams?" The responses were:

  • “Yes, and I’ll vote to get rid of him, too.”: 46%
  • “No, I support him and want to put this behind us.": 34%
  • “Yes, I think it’s at least fair to hold an election.”: 12%
  • Unsure: 7%[19]

Notable supporters

Notable supporters of the first recall effort included:

  • Tom Potter, a former mayor of Portland. In a public letter, Potter wrote, "Sam Adams has demonstrated his serious lack of judgment, a complete lack of integrity, his serial lying to win an election, and his callous disregard for others."[20][21]
  • Joe Weston, a prominent real estate developer in the city, provided office space to the recall effort. Weston also signed the recall petition, saying, "If you were an employer and a prospective employee did not state the truth in his application, would you say ‘Well, it’s OK, you already have the job?'."[22]
  • Willamette Week, an important local publication, wrote on July 22, "after wrestling with this issue, we have come to see the value for Portland in such an election. That’s why we are endorsing Jasun Wurster’s efforts to gather 32,183 signatures to put the question of recalling Mayor Sam Adams on the ballot."[23]
  • Just Out, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Portland news publication, asked for Sam Adams to resign and supported the recall effort[24]

Path to the ballot

To qualify the recall question for the ballot, supports must obtain 32,183 signatures of registered voters 90 days from the time they begin signature collection. There are about 341,000 registered voters in Portland.

Once signatures are submitted, Portland election officials will have 10 days to certify the signatures. If election officials determine that enough signatures were submitted, Adams would then have five days to resign or provide reasons for why he should be retained. A recall election would then be scheduled, and that election must take place within 35 days from the time that Adams either resigns or says he will not resign. Since April 20 is the last day of the petition drive, the latest possible date for the prospective recall election is June 9.[25]

Bill Lunch, chairman of Oregon State University’s political science department, said recall efforts in large cities are rarely successful in even reaching the ballot, because of the large number of valid signatures needed to qualify.[4]

The last time a Portland official was recalled was in 1952.[26]

On September 8, 2009, during the first recall effort, petitioners filed a complaint with the state alleging that Mayor Sam Adams yelled at a signature gatherer in front of Pioneer Courthouse Square. According to the group, Adams may have cost the group a signature, however, Adams says the claim is "absolutely, positively false." Rondine Ghiselline, the signature gatherer, said that the mayor approached her while she was collecting a signature and said, "Are these the kinds of rumors you've started now, and is that what you're resorting to?" However, Adams and his spokesperson Roy Kaufmann argue otherwise. According to Kauffmann, Ghiselline confronted them and the mayor responded by saying, "I hear you. Thank you for your comments." The Oregon Secretary of State's office will be reviewing the matter.[27]

On September 9, 2009 the Oregon Secretary of State's office declined to pursue the complaint.[28]

See also

External links


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  1. 1.0 1.1 The Oregonian,"Effort to recall Portland Mayor Sam Adams gets first big backer," October 15, 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 Oregon Public Broadcasting News,"Recall Effort Fails To Gather Enough Signatures," October 5, 2009
  3. The Portlander, "Mayor Adams Recall Effort Comes Up Short, Again," April 20, 2010
  4. 4.0 4.1 Portland Business Journal: "Lunch: Getting rid of Adams 'difficult,'" Jan 21, 2009
  5. Just Out,"“New Year, New Recall” Says Portland Future PAC’s Gordly," December 30, 2009 (timed out)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Portland Business Journal: "Adams not expected to resign," Jan 25, 2009
  7. OPB News, "Recall Petitioners Admit Failure, Turn Attention To 2012 Election," April 20, 2010
  8. KGW News Channel 8, "2nd recall campaign to oust Mayor Sam Adams begins," January 20, 2010
  9. Oregonian, "Second campaign to recall Portland Mayor Sam Adams reports raising $18,000," January 27, 2010
  10. Willamette Week Online,"Avel Gordly Will Take A Top Role In The Second Effort To Recall Mayor Sam Adams," October 20, 2009
  11. Portland Business Journal, "Adams recall, tax repeal, reset plan still linger," December 25, 2009
  12. The Oregonian, "Portland mayor recall effort No. 2 starts today," January 20, 2010
  13. The Oregonian,"A second business backer identified in Mayor Sam Adams recall effort," October 16, 2009
  14. Examiner,"Second recall effort for Mayor Sam Adams gains support," October 17, 2009
  15. 15.0 15.1 Willamette Week,"Two More Business Leaders Join Sam Adams Recall," October 26, 2009
  16. KXL, "Breedlove Turns On Mayor"
  17. The Oregonian, "Portland Mayor recall campaign hires people to collect signatures," March 22, 2010
  18. The Oregonian, "Campaign to recall Mayor Sam Adams gets off to slow start, but rallies support with drive-through," July 21, 2009
  19. Portland Business Journal, "Adams recall has support," July 17, 2009
  20. Blogtown, "Tom Potter Announces Support for Adams Recall Campaign," July 11, 2009
  21. Willamette Week, "Former Mayor Tom Potter Unloads On Mayor Adams’ “Complete Lack” Of Judgment And Integrity," July 15, 2009
  22. Willamette Week, "Real-Estate Magnate Joe Weston Supports Recall Campaign," July 30, 2009
  23. Willamette Week, "Sign it," July 22, 2009
  24. Just Out,"Just Out Editorial Board Asks Portland Mayor Sam Adams To Resign From Office," January 21, 2009
  25. Portland Mercury, "Recall 2 Files Quietly At City Auditor's Office—Election Will Cost $350,000 In Taxpayer Dollars," January 20, 2010
  26. Willamette Week, "Total Recall," July 8, 2009
  27. The Oregonian, "Recall campaign files complaint, but Mayor Sam Adams says claim is false," September 8, 2009
  28. KGW, "State declines to pursue Adams complaint," September 9, 2009

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