Campaign Notebook: Lewis Probably Qualifies; Middaugh Moving Quick; A New Contender Seeks Sten’s Seat — (Willamette Week)

SSRI Ed note: Woman has psychotic break from Paxil withdrawal, on disability for a year and a half. Now on Ritalin.

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Jan 23, 2008

Another candidate has filed for Portland Commissioner Erik Sten’s seat: Tamara DeRidder, a land-use planner whose most recent job was as the city of Fairview’s Community Development Director, which she resigned in 2006.

DeRidder thinks the Portland City Council “really does need to have a better grip on the reality of how to run a business.”

“They make rules and regulations, but they don’t follow them,” she says, citing the Interstate Avenue renaming fiasco and the decision not to extend the qualifying deadline for publicly financed candidates following the surprise resignation of Commissioner Sten.

She decided to run for Portland City Council last week and will seek public financing. She says she has already gathered about 70 signatures of support.

DeRidder tells WWire that Ritalin, her prescribed treatment for recently diagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder, has renewed her focus, making a bid for office feasible.

“All of a sudden, things became so much easier,” DeRidder says. “I’ve always been active, but I think I can get a lot more done now that I have the confidence and the ability.”

In the spring of 2002, DeRidder had what she calls a “psychotic break” after trying to get off the antidepressant Paxil too quickly. She was on disability for a year and a half. In 2005, DeRidder started working with Fairview under contract, and was hired on as the city’s Community Development Director until her resignation the following year, after a change in administrators.

“It just became kind of too bizarre,” DeRidder says. Part of the problem, she says, was that “I am an open lesbian woman that doesn’t vote Republican.”

DeRidder, 47, lives with her partner in Northeast Portland.

She plans a kickoff meeting for her campaign at 5:30 pm on Jan. 24 at the Laurelwood Brewpub at 5115 Northeast Sandy Boulevard.

Elsewhere in campaignland, Charles Lewis, who is running for the Council seat being vacated by mayoral candidate Sam Adams, turned in 1,137 signatures and $5 contributions at the City Auditor’s office today, which should be enough for him to qualify for public financing.

And Jim Middaugh, who hopes to replace his boss, Erik Sten, on the Council, turned in 781 signatures and contributions to the Auditor this morning. That’s a quick turnaround for a candidate who just declared a little over a week ago.

Middaugh says he has over 175 volunteers gathering signatures.

The deadline for publicly financed city candidates to turn in their qualifying contributions is Jan. 31. The clock’s a-tickin’.