Leader of the city’s Black Lives Matter movement said she will challenge Mayor Ted Wheeler should he seek re-election.
Teressa Raiford told The Oregonian/OregonLive that a failure by Wheeler and other elected officials to address the need for police accountability and public safety prompted her interest in the city’s highest office.
“Politicians are undermining the safety of our community, the most important issue in our city” she said. Wheeler, whose term extends until 2020, has yet to finish his first year in office.
Raiford emerged as an outspoken critic of City Hall after she founded the accountability group Don’t Shoot Portland in 2014.
“If you already sealed your ballot in the envelop but haven’t sent it in yet, you can still #WriteinRaiford and vote #Teressa4Sheriff,” a post on a new campaign Facebook page reads. “Just take your ballot to the Multnomah County Elections Division at 1040 SE Morrison St, tell them you made a mistake on your ballot, and they’ll give you a new one!”
Raiford, 47, said that she planned to make a formal announcement within the next week, though she’s already taken a few public steps to indicate her intention.
A Facebook page created by Raiford when ran as a write-in candidate for Multnomah County Sheriff in 2016 has now been rebranded as “Teressa Raiford for Mayor 2020.”
She comes from a family known for its involvement civil rights issues in Portland. Her grandmother owned the former Burger Barn in Northeast Portland in 1981, when two Portland police officers tossed four dead possums outside the restaurant’s front door. The officers’ actions sparked citywide civil rights demonstrations and spurred Raiford’s father, Bernard Raiford, to complain to then-City Commissioner Charles Jordan. Teressa Raiford says more distant family members were deeply involved in Mississippi’s civil rights movement.
Since moving back to Portland in 2010 after 14 years in Dallas, Raiford has partaken in her share of activism, too. After her nephew was shot outside an Old Town nightclub in Sept. 2010, Raiford spoke out in support of tougher background checks for gun buyers.
Since then, the self-employed business consultant has spent much of her time advocating for North Portland’s underserved.