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Oregon: A State Proud of Its Firsts : Women Hold Top Posts in Politics, Law Enforcement

Charles Hillinger's America

March 31, 1985|CHARLES HILLINGER | Times Staff Writer

When no one chose to run against incumbent Mayor Frank Ivancie last year, Clark, owner of the popular Goose Hollow Tavern, threw in his hat and sounded his campaign cry--"Whoop. Whoop." Then he did what most people of Portland thought was impossible--the saloonkeeper won. Ivancie thought his reelection was a cinch and hardly campaigned. Clark had never run for or held political office before.

Oh, he has served on several committees and boards over the last 15 years in his efforts to improve the city he loves and has lived in his entire life--except for three years he spent in the Marines. His wife, Sigrid, has been a member of the Oregon Symphony for 23 years. She is the orchestra's first violinist. They have four children.

For years "Whoop. Whoop." has been Clark's way of greeting customers at the Goose, a highly successful tavern with 20 employees, where he worked daily as bartender and sandwich-maker until he became mayor. Now he exchanges his "Whoop. Whoop." with the officials and ordinary citizens he encounters in city hall and on the streets.

He rode his 12-speed bike to his inaugural and continues to ride a bike the two miles each way from his home to city hall. In the window of his office in city hall, an office he had never visited until becoming mayor, is a large silhouette of a goose reminding him of his roots.

Founded Newspaper

Clark, 5-foot-10 and weighing 190 pounds, also owns a duck hunting shop, the Mother Goose Antique Store and the Aardvark Pest Control Co. He founded a neighborhood newspaper, which he has since sold.

Since his inauguration last January, Clark has brown-bagged it at a lunch every Thursday in city hall. Citizens from all walks of life bring their lunches and share their ideas about how to have a better Portland. With a tight budget facing him, he has told heads of all departments that city spending has to be cut. "There will be no sacred cows," he warned.

His first two priorities are to find shelters for the homeless and jobs for unemployed youths. His inaugural ball was one of the biggest bashes in the city's history, attended by 14,000 who paid $10 each to jam the Coliseum for an evening of dancing to rock 'n' roll, jazz and big-band music on seven stages.

"I know what it's like for a little guy struggling to pay taxes," said the mayor over a beer at Benjamin's across from City Hall. "The former incumbent lost touch with the people. He did not represent blue-collar workers. I know what it's like to be a small businessman. I'm going to run the city on a business basis. You only go around once. You've got to get involved. This is my chance."

"We have had marvelous characters like Bud Clark all through the history of this state," observed Cecil L. Edwards, 79, Oregon's unofficial historian who maintains an office in the Capitol at Salem. Edwards, a fourth generation Oregonian, has been working for the Oregon State Legislature continuously since 1933. He served as chief clerk of the House of Representatives and secretary of the state Senate. His title now is Senate historian.

He mentioned Charlie Packhurst, a pistol-packing, one-eyed stagecoach driver before the turn of the century, who was the first woman of record to vote in Oregon. "No one knew Charlie was a woman until the undertaker made the discovery," said Edwards, who noted that Victor Atiyeh (Ah-tee-ah), the present governor is the first U.S. governor of Arabic descent and Vera Katz is the only woman currently serving as Speaker of any of the state legislatures.

"We're up to our armpits in firsts," mentioned the venerable historian (the 1983-84 Oregon Blue Book, the official state directory, was dedicated to Cecil Edwards "who lives and breathes Oregon political history.") He rattled off several Oregon firsts:

"First state to implement the initiative, referendum and recall (1902). First state to elect U.S. Senators by vote of the people. First presidential preference primary. First state to declare ocean beaches as a public resource. First to earmark 1% of state highway funds for construction and maintenance of bicycle paths. First state to prohibit the sale of non-returnable beverage bottles and cans (Bottle Bill). First state with statewide land-use plan. And on and on."

Edwards leaned back in his chair and recalled some of Oregon's other mavericks of the past. "When Sylvester Pennoyer left the governor's office in 1895 he became mayor of Portland and one of his first acts was to fire the whole damn police force."

Dave Talbot, 51, state parks and recreation director the past 21 years, talked about an extraordinary bill passed in 1967 by the Legislature that guaranteed public access to all 362 miles of Oregon's scenic coastline.

He opened a book published by his department entitled "Oregon's Beaches, A Birthright Preserved" and stopped at the foreword by former Gov. Bob Straub, which read:

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