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It's official, Leonard will run for Portland City Council


Portland firefighter and state representative Randy Leonard announced May 30 that he will resign his legislative seat to run for Portland City Council.

The council post was vacated last week by Charlie Hales, who is taking a job in the private sector.

Leonard, 49, is a lieutenant working out of Station 17 covering the Columbia River and Northeast Portland. A firefighter since 1978, Leonard served as president of Fire Fighters Local 43 from 1986 through 1998.

A Portland native, he graduated from Grant High School, served in the Marines, and later earned a bachelor's degree in history from Portland State University.

He now lives in the Centennial district in outer southeast Portland with his wife and four children.

Leonard has served in the Legislature since 1993, first as a senator and later, after term limits, in the House. Last month he won the Democratic primary in House District 48 with nearly 75 percent of the vote. His decision to resign means that Democratic precinct leaders in the district will pick a replacement to run in November's general election. Leonard said he can't officially step down until the primary election results have been certified 30 days after the election and said he will represent the district in the June special session to be called by Governor John Kitzhaber.

"I have fought hard for better funding of education, specific economic enhancement packages that have attracted new and better jobs to our state, fought for responsible stewardship of our waterways, and increased protections for workers," Leonard said at a noontime press conference at Terry Schrunk Plaza in front of City Hall. "Given the make-up of the Legislature, it hasn't always been easy. But it has always been a battle worth waging."

Leonard stressed that there is much left to do, "However, I believe it is here, in the city of my birth, the city I have spent my entire life in, that I can have the most profound and direct impact on the things I care most about."

Leonard pointed out that he is not the first firefighter to run for city council. "I am the second, " he said. "This plaza is named after Portland's beloved former mayor, Terry Schrunk. Terry Schrunk was a Portland firefighter who also served as president of the Portland Fire Fighters Association. Today, in this place and at this time I feel that connection stronger than I ever have in the past."

Leonard said as a city commissioner he will work to create an economic environment that entices good businesses to come and convinces good businesses to stay in Portland.

"Without those businesses our citizens are not capable of having the good jobs that allow them to enjoy this city's riches," he said.

At the same time, he said he "knows how to show respect to both the people who work every day on the frontlines making city government work, and the taxpayers who want to make sure that every public dollar is well-spent, on the things they care about."

As a native of inner northeast Portland but a resident of outer southeast Portland, Leonard said he is capable of uniting the diverse neighborhoods of Portland into one city. "I know this entire city in a way that no other councilperson, past or present, has or does," he said.

Joining Lt. Leonard at the press conference were Ken Allen, executive director of Oregon Council 75 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; Robert King, president of the Portland Police Association; members of Fire Fighters Local 43, and representatives of several other unions.


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