Portland voters reject new water board

Voters rejected a proposal that would have stripped control of the water and sewer board from the Portland city council. (KOIN 6)
Voters rejected a proposal that would have stripped control of the water and sewer board from the Portland city council. (KOIN 6)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Voters rejected a proposal that would have stripped control of the water and sewer board from the Portland city council and given it to an elected board.

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish at a gathering to celebrate primary night victories, May 20, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish at a gathering to celebrate primary night victories, May 20, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

The Portland Charter Amendment to create water and sewer district with elected board, Multnomah 26-156 on the ballot, was championed by former lobbyist Kent Craford and Floy Jones, co-founder of the grassroots Friends of the Reservoirs organization.

The “no” vote likely means management, operation and financing of Portland’s water, sewer and storm water systems will remain under the direction and oversight of Portland City Council.

Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees the water bureau, was all smiles at a victory party after the results were announced. Fish also won re-election to the city commission.

Kent Craford and supporters of a plan to set up a separate water and sewer board gather following their defeat, May 20, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Kent Craford and supporters of a plan to set up a separate water and sewer board gather following their defeat, May 20, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

He told KOIN 6 News said the reform of the water and sewer bureau is not done and knows, despite victory, there is work to do.

As to whether he’ll work with the utility district supporters moving forward, Fish said,”We’ll take good ideas from anyone.”

At a gathering following the defeat, Craford told KOIN 6 News, “We knew it was an uphill fight.” But despite the loss, he said he feels the race accomplished a lot and got attention to the issue.

“What’s more important is these issues have been brought to the forefront and there are problems,” said Craford.

He said he wants to work with the city moving forward on the water issue.

During the campaign Fish and Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said even if they won, they would put together a task force to look at reform proposals on issues such as transparency and how best to spend ratepayers’ money.

When asked if the task force would still happen, Fish replied, “We’ll be announcing that in the next few weeks.”

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