Loretta Smith (born 1966) is an American politician who served as a Multnomah County Commissioner. She ran unsuccessful campaigns for Portland City Council in 2018 and 2020. In each of those elections, she qualified for a runoff election but lost in the second round.
|Multnomah County Commissioner|
January 2011 – January 2019
|Preceded by||Jeff Cogen|
|Succeeded by||Susheela Jayapal|
|Born||1966 (age 54–55)|
Grand Rapids, Michigan
|Alma mater||Oregon State University|
Early life and careerEdit
Smith was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1966. In high school, she was a member of the Black Student Union as well as the track and cheerleading teams. At 17, she began attending Oregon State University, from where she graduated with a degree in communications in 1987. Soon after graduating college, Smith got a job as a staffer for then-U.S. Representative Ron Wyden. She remained on his staff for 21 years, eventually becoming his field representative.
Smith began her own political career by running for Multnomah County Commissioner in 2010. She came in second place in the initial election, and advanced to the runoff, which she won by 26 percentage points. During her first term, Smith focused on investments in programs helping poor youth. She served on the Portland Metro Workforce Development Board, which aims to curb the unemployment rate especially among people of color. Smith won reelection in 2014 with little opposition.
During her second term, Smith generated some controversy relating to her finances. A Willamette Week investigation discovered that Smith disproportionately spent her office budget on travel and nonprofit contributions. In 2016, she was found to owe the state of Oregon $36,000 in taxes and fees, but in 2017 the state admitted it had made a mistake. Also in 2017, Smith was accused by several former staffers of harassment and creating a hostile work environment. She was also accused of using county funds for personal expenses such as grocery shopping. Some Smith supporters questioned the accusations and claimed she was treated harshly because she was a black woman, describing it as "a political lynching".
Smith ran for Portland City Council in 2018. She came in second place in the initial election and lost to Jo Ann Hardesty in the runoff. Smith picked up several prominent endorsements, including from all four of Oregon's black state legislators at the time and from former County Commissioners Jules Bailey and Diane McKeel.
In 2020, Smith ran in a special election for City Council to succeed Nick Fish, who had died in office. She came in first place in a crowded field, but lost to Portland School Board member Dan Ryan in the August runoff.
Smith has one son, Jordan, born in 1990, whom she raised as a single mother.
|Nonpartisan||Gary D. Hansen||2,663||9.08%|
|Nonpartisan||Maria C. Rubio||1,951||6.65%|
|Nonpartisan||Paul van Orden||1,790||6.10%|
|Nonpartisan||Jo Ann Hardesty||56,364||46.31%|
|Nonpartisan||Jo Ann Hardesty||165,686||61.81%|
|Nonpartisan||Ronault "Polo" Catalani||3,512||1.68%|
|Nonpartisan||Aquiles U. Montas||2,175||1.04%|
|Nonpartisan||James "Jas" Davis||1,842||0.88%|
- Oregonian/OregonLive, Everton Bailey Jr | The (January 1, 2020). "Former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith files to run for Nick Fish's Portland council seat". oregonlive. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
- Bailey, Everton Jr. (August 12, 2020). "Portland voters pick Dan Ryan over Loretta Smith to join City Council". The Oregonian. Retrieved August 13, 2020.
- Dilg, Janice (January 21, 2015). "Biography - Loretta Smith Oral History Interview". Oregon State University. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
- Templeton, Amelia (October 22, 2018). "Loretta Smith: A Record Of Accomplishment — And Conflict". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
- "May 18, 2010 Primary Election". Multnomah County. March 2, 2011. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
- Jaquiss, Nigel (February 3, 2017). "Staffer Accuses County Commissioner Loretta Smith of Misusing Public Resources on Campaigns". Willamette Week. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
- "Hardesty vs. Smith: Diversity, housing, homelessness and more". news.streetroots.org. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
- "Municipal elections in Portland, Oregon (2018)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
- "Dan Ryan Is Portland's Newest City Commissioner, Winning Special Election Runoff". Willamette Week. Retrieved August 18, 2020.
- "Loretta Smith, Dan Ryan vie for Portland City Council seat left vacant by Nick Fish's death". opb. Retrieved August 18, 2020.
- "Smith, Loretta". Our Campaigns. Retrieved August 30, 2020.