“Bud Was Serious!”

This weekend is – all together, now! – the 15th Annual UFO Festival and we hope to see you there. We’ll be in McMinnville from Thursday through Sunday, hosting our UFO speakers and welcoming guests from all over the nation.

But on Monday, May 19, it’s back to Portland for our next History Pub at the Kennedy School for a presentation on one of Portland’s most colorful politicians to date:  “Bud Was Serious!”: A 30th-Anniversary Retrospective of Bud Clark’s Successful Race for Mayor of Portland.”

Bud Clark was a tavern owner with very little political background (although he had done extensive non-profit neighborhood and social advocacy work). He opened his bar, the Goose Hollow Tavern,Bud in SW Portland in 1967 – to this day, it’s still a great joint to have a beer, a sandwich and some good conversation.

When the barkeep entered the political arena in 1984, daring to run for mayor against the incumbent Frank Ivancie, it was met with skepticism and even derision. (“Kind of cute but doesn’t stand a chance,” is how Clark’s own campaign strategist defined him!)

Two months prior to the election, Clark trailed Ivancie by 35 points in one poll. But the people of Portland were ready for change. From the point of view of many voters, the current mayor was the old-school political insider: too cozy with the corporations, leaving too little to trickle down to the average, hard-working folks. And the people had had enough. Voters saw Bud Clark as someone who could take Portland in a completely new direction. Clark and his staff canvassed the city, spoke face to face with voters, and charmed the population.

No one thought Clark would actually win the election. But he did. One headline read:

Gasp to delight: Clark’s victory rocks status quo.

Portland historian E. Kimball Clark declared, “I think this is the most resounding upset, certainly in this century.”

A small business owner was quoted as saying, “It’s refreshing. I’m tickled. Bud Clark is an unknown. What this will mean for Portland, I don’t know.”

Clark served as mayor of Portland from 1985-1992 and is considered to be one of the best leaders in the city’s history. Career highlights include:

  • Creation of the nationally recognized 12-Point Homeless Plan
  • Growth of mass transit, including the MAX Light Rail to Gresham
  • Development of downtown Portland
  • Initiation of the campaign to build the Oregon Convention Center

On Monday, May 19, Bud Clark himself, along with several members of his 1984 campaign and subsequent administrations, will gather on stage in the Kennedy School theater to remember their historic run. All are welcome to attend; admission is free. 

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