As of a few weeks ago, Multnomah County Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey told the Oregonian she was 99.9 percent certain she was going to run for the city council open seat. Has she tipped over to 100 percent? Though she hasn’t filed yet—doing so before January would constitute a resignation, as far as the county’s concerned—she did meet with a political consultant today at the Daily Cafe on SE Grand… just two feet away from where I was waiting for my lunch date.
The consultant—who looked 99.9 percent like Mark Wiener—had apparently been tapped to tell Rojo de Steffey her weaknesses going into a council race. I hope she didn’t pay him a whole lot, because his advice to her was as obvious as the laptop and reporter’s notebook out in front of me at the next table.
For starters, he told Rojo de Steffey, who was nursing a glass of water, that her “work ethic” will be called into question. Thanks to tallies by local media of the days off she’s taken—over this past summer, “Rojo de Steffey didn’t go to the office on 26 days, including 11 of 14 Fridays” the Oregonian reported—and her late entry into the César E. Chávez debacle, (or, “showing up at the end….getting all emotional about it,” as he put it) has some believing that she’s “not the hardest worker.” (He asked her not to shoot the messenger.)
And let’s not forget the Mean Girls nickname Rojo de Steffey and her county colleagues picked up. Putting it on her vanity license plate didn’t look so good, he pointed out.
The espresso machine revved up just before the consultant said “this is out there and I think you have to have a really really good answer for it.” Not sure what they’d been discussing, but perhaps the ethics complaint she was cleared of last year, regarding conflict of interest rules, and her developer husband.
Rojo de Steffey listened to her perceived shortcomings, then defended herself. On the vacation issue, “I took three weeks off, I really did. I spent two with my grandkids, then I took another week of Fridays” to have long weekends. As for the Chávez late entry and clean up, she said the committee asked for her help, and she stepped in. And when it comes to slapping a reference to Mean Girls on her license plate, “I was poking fun of us.”
Plus, she pointed out, she has a record—and the others running for the open seat don’t. As for those opponents, the consultant said it would be “a suicide mission” to spend time bashing Rojo de Steffey instead of concentrating on getting their own name out there. (Then again, most of the other candidates are political novices or near-novices who likely don’t brainstorm with fancy political consultants like Weiner—in other words, they might be prone to kamikaze attacks that Rojo de Steffey will have to deal with.)
Is any of this newsworthy? Again, it’s pretty obvious stuff to even the most casual observer of Rojo de Steffey’s time at the county. But the fact that she’s already feeling out what she’d face in a campaign is telling. It’s quite certain that she’s in, and that she’s going to fight hard for the seat.
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