West Side story

Having looked over the field of candidates for the District 2 seat on the Multnomah County Commission yesterday, I thought I might as well check out the wannabes in some of the other districts. And District 1, covering the west side of Portland and some of the inner east side, looks interesting, with five hopefuls jockeying for the seat being vacated because Sharon Meieran is, alas, being term-limited out.

Of the five, two I'd dismiss right away. One is Chris Henry, a Progressive Party guy who runs for all kinds of offices and never gets anywhere. The other is Meghan Moyer, a career lobbyist whose endorsers include Kate Brown, the government employee union types, and the nonprofit currently being run by Sarah Yadarrone. That'd be a hard no.

Of the other three, the familiar name is Vadim Mozyrsky (pictured), the Social Security disability judge who came in third for Portland City Council to Jo Ann With the Bullhorn and Rene Gonzalez. Mozyrsky was on the city charter commission, where he tried to talk sense to the foolish kids around him, but he was shouted down and now we'll suffer through too many city council members from too few districts, elected under a version of "rank choice" voting that only Rube Goldberg could love. At one point Mozy said he might run for district attorney against Mikey Schmidt, but he's thought better of that.

Mozyrsky is saying a lot of valid things about the dysfunction on the current county board, and so I guess he would be my choice if I lived in that part of town. But there's something about him that I don't quite trust. I wish I could put my finger on precisely what is making me feel that way. I wish his City Council campaign would have shown us more about who the heck he is.

Another interesting candidate is Margot Wheeler. She's a business management consultant, with an MBA, and she was a project manager for the county for a while, including working on the implementation of the county income tax. She knows something about money and about the relevant bureaucracy, and her set of experiences could be a real asset on the commission. But unfortunately, with less than two months to go before the election is over, Wheeler has posted nothing that might tell us how she feels about anything. I wouldn't take a chance on her unless and until I was 100 percent sure she was more like Meieran and less like the county chair, Chevy Vega.

The last face in the crowd is Kevin Fitts, who's quite a character. He's a well-known and credible advocate for mentally ill people, demanding that current and former patients have a voice in the decision-making when treatment systems are being designed and funded. Fiits has been on the receiving end of that kind of treatment himself, but he's an impressive figure. I'd be skeptical of his ability to hold down the commissioner's job, but whoever gets the seat should listen carefully to what he has to say. Unlike most of the people you hear nattering on and on about "lived experience," he actually has it. And he'd be no worse than Moyer; she would be a big step backward from Meieran.


  1. Thanks for this analysis. I voted for Vadim when he ran for city council and will vote for him again for the county commission. He strikes me as being one of the few people that speaks out against the hypocrisy prevalent in our government - whether it be Hardesty's war against the police in the midst of skyrocketing crime or the charter commission's refusal to give voters choices supposedly in the name of expanding democracy. By all accounts he's made something of his life and volunteers on the side, which is also quite different from the typical grifters that run for office.

    You're right on Moyer - another nonprofit lackey that has advocated solely on the needs of her nonprofit and is supported by the usual mix of nonprofits seeking to maintain their funding streams. I have to disagree with you on Fitts, though. I did some research when Willamette Week wrote a piece about his campaign. Fitts certainly has a sordid past - drug abuse, criminal history, serious mental problems. Now he claims to run a nonprofit to help people like himself - the Oregon Mental Health Consumers Association. Except that the nonprofit that Fitts says he's run since 2002 has no board, no bylaws, and has never filed a 990 form with the IRS. It's been delisted 7 times by the Secretary of State. The nonprofit does have a secretary, Karena Baryons, whom google reveals shares the same address as both Fitts and the nonprofit and who testified before the House Behavioral Health Committee that she's Fitts' partner. So basically, Fitts claims to be the executive director of a Consumers Association that has no associate members, that has never earned enough to file with the IRS, and whose only two executives seem to be living together and in a relationship.

    Sorry, but Fitts doesn't strike me as being "an impressive figure”, as you put it, but rather another grifter looking to live off the government dole.

    1. Big thanks for that research. Now if you can only do the same for the 20 people running for city council in my district...


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