‘Birdie’ Sanders leads 2016 Oregon political moments

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders smiles as a bird lands on his podium when he addresses the crowd during a rally at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore., Friday, March 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders smiles as a bird lands on his podium when he addresses the crowd during a rally at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore., Friday, March 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Whether Oregonians are sad or glad to see 2016 go, there’s no doubt The Beaver State saw some big political moments this year.

From Birdie Sanders to the election of Portland Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler, we’ve recapped the biggest political stories of 2016 that took place right here in Oregon. Check out our list below.

Birdie Sanders 

During the height of the 2016 Democratic Primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, held a rally at the Moda Center in Portland during March. While he spoke, a tiny bird landed on his podium, drawing a laugh from the candidate and a giant roar from the crowd of 11,000 people that showed up to see Sanders.

The clip went viral, and #BirdieSanders was born.

Sanders said although the bird didn’t look like a dove, it must have been one that came to ask for world peace.

A bird lands on Sen. Bernie Sanders' podium while he spoke in Portland. December 21, 2016, (Bernie 2016 YouTube channel)
A bird lands on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ podium while he spoke in Portland. December 21, 2016, (Bernie 2016 YouTube channel)

 

Portland gets a new mayor in Ted Wheeler

It all started on September 9, 2015, when then-Treasurer Ted Wheeler announced he would run for mayor in Portland.

In October 2015, Mayor Charlie Hales made the announcement he wouldn’t seek reelection. Hales had initially planned to seek reelection but decided his mayoral duties would be divided if he focused his attention on campaigning.

From that moment on, Sarah Lannarone, Sean Davis, David Shor, Ted Wheeler, Jules Bailey and Bruce Broussard all sought the office. Of course, Wheeler would end up claiming victory in the May election.

In total, Wheeler earned 58% of the vote.

“I cannot wait to take office as your next mayor,” Wheeler said.

He’ll officially take office in January 2017. The mayor-elect made housing a major issue during his campaign. Wheeler will inherit an ongoing homeless crisis and other continuing Portland complaints like rising rents and a lack of affordable housing.

Ted Wheeler won a majority vote to become Portland's next mayor, May 17, 2016. (KOIN)
Ted Wheeler won a majority vote to become Portland’s next mayor, May 17, 2016. (KOIN)

 

First Republican elected to statewide office in over a decade

In 2016, Oregon saw its first Republican in a statewide office in over a decade.

Dennis Richardson defeated Democrat Brad Avakian to become the new secretary of state.

The race was considered the tightest statewide contest of 2016, even more so than the gubernatorial election of Gov. Kate Brown and Bud Pierce.

During the race, Avakian ran ads saying that Richardson was “extreme like Trump.” That didn’t stop him from racking up endorsements from numerous newspapers and even other Democrats.

One important thing to remember about Oregon’s Secretary of State is it’s the second highest office in the state. As Oregonians learned with Gov. Kate Brown when former Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned, the secretary of state then becomes the new governor.

Dennis Richardson at his campaign celebration November 4, 2014. (KOIN 6)
Dennis Richardson at his campaign celebration November 4, 2014. (KOIN 6)

Donald Trump campaigns in Eugene amid protests

Although Oregon has been blue for quite some time, that didn’t stop now President-elect Donald Trump from making a campaign stop in Eugene during the 2016 Republican Primary.

On May 5, Trump spoke to a crowd of 5,000 at the Lane County Convention Center amid hundreds of protesters. Eventually, Trump won the Republican Primary, and Sanders won the Democratic Primary. Hillary Clinton won the state during the general election.

Protesters gathered at nearby Monroe City Park to let Trump know they didn’t want him in Oregon.

In June, the City of Eugene announced it planned to bill Trump’s campaign nearly $100,000 to pay for the costs of security.

Eugene Police Chief Pete Kerns said overtime compensation for police officers totaled $78,000 while firefighters and other city employees racked up another $10,000 in OT. Meals and other expenses for the more than 170 officers assigned to the rally cost the city another $4,500. It all added up to $92,300.

No protesters were arrested during Trump’s event, and in the end Trump’s campaign wasn’t obligated to reimburse the City of Eugene for security costs.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Eugene, Ore., Friday, May 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Eugene, Ore., Friday, May 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Oregonians vote down one of the largest corporate tax increases in state history

Measure 97, a corporate tax proposal expected to bring in an additional $3 billion annually, was voted down by Oregonians after a long political season culminating in November.

The measure made history for being one of the largest corporate tax increases in the state’s history, and it was defeated despite polls showing it having an early lead among voters.

It had Gov. Kate Brown’s endorsement, but political opponents spent millions on ads against the measure.

Though the tax dollars were supposed to go toward education and health care, ads constantly reminded voters that since Measure 97 wasn’t a constitutional amendment, the money could technically be spent on anything. Ads often called it a “blank check” for legislators.

There were also concerns the measure would be too much for iconic business Powell’s Books to handle, leaving the company with no choice but to close.

Measure 97 buttons for the Yes on 97 event on Election Day 2016. (KOIN)
Measure 97 buttons for the Yes on 97 event on Election Day 2016. (KOIN)

Riots damage businesses in downtown Portland following Trump’s presidential win

On November 8 after Trump won the White House, protests broke out and eventually turned to riots. On November 10, rioters in the Pearl smashed windows of businesses, sprayed graffiti and a car dealership in NE Portland had several vehicles damaged. One person was even shot during a protest on November 11.

Rioters near 13th and Hoyt in Portland on November 10, 2016. (KOIN)
Rioters near 13th and Hoyt in Portland on November 10, 2016. (KOIN)

For days, protesters held events, blocked traffic, and defied police orders to seek a permit for their activities.

Thousands participated in events that started peaceful before ending in violence after officials said they were hijacked by anarchists. On November 10 alone, police estimated $1 million worth of damage was done.

Portland’s Resistance, a group that organized many of the protests, raised $55,000 to give back to businesses that were damaged during the riots.

On December 5, the group delivered the first funds to Urban Pantry. In total, the business got a check for $2,450.

#NotMyPresident rioters broke windows in the Pearl District, November 10, 2016. (KOIN)
#NotMyPresident rioters broke windows in the Pearl District, November 10, 2016. (KOIN)

Portland becomes first city in America to create a “CEO tax”

The City of Portland became the first city in America to create a surtax on companies that pay their CEOs vastly more than they pay an average worker.

The Portland City Council approved the plan earlier in December.

Under the ordinance, a company with a CEO-to-worker ratio of at least 100-to-1 will pay a surcharge equal to 10 percent of the amount it pays for Portland’s business tax.

The tax was a creation of Commissioner Steve Novick, and he cut a deal with Commissioner Amanda Fritz to get support for the idea. She wanted his support on a public campaign financing program, and in exchange for her support of his CEO tax, he supported her program.

City officials expect the tax to bring in $2.5 million a year once in starts in January 2017.

The Portland City Council. (L-R) Steve Novick, Amanda Fritz, Mayor Charlie Hales, Dan Saltzman, Nick Fish, Sept. 24, 2015 (KOIN)
The Portland City Council. (L-R) Steve Novick, Amanda Fritz, Mayor Charlie Hales, Dan Saltzman, Nick Fish, Sept. 24, 2015 (KOIN)