Will Jefferson Smith's past driving infractions impact your vote for mayor?
PORTLAND – Mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith's driver's license has been suspended 7 times and his driving record includes a long list of infractions. He says he's sorry about it.
Smith on Wednesday acknowledged a report in the Oregonian which revealed that his license had been suspended multiple times and described it as part of his “embarrassing driving record.”
“When I first got into the race for mayor, a reporter did a story on it. It became more clear then that parts of my life would become the matter of public discussion -- no matter how much we might think those things are related to policy or governance. There are a lot of things I’ve done in my life that I’m proud of; my driving record is something I am not proud of. I take it seriously and I’m sorry for it,” Jefferson said, in a prepared statement emailed to KGW.
As first reported by KGW news partner The Oregonian, Smith's legislative aide got a copy of his full driving record on Aug. 12, 2011, but the candidate for mayor did not share all the details with the public until after media outlets pressed for it.
Along with the seven suspensions, Smith’s list of infractions dating back to 1993 include unpaid fines, missed court hearings, failing to yield to an emergency vehicle and speeding.
In the prepared statement, Smith described his driving record as “one of my flaws” and “an embarrassing blind spot.” But said he is still a strong candidate for mayor.
"I also have strengths, and I think those strengths (including an occasional willingness to recognize my weaknesses) will make me a good mayor for our city. And ultimately, I hope this race will be not about the past -- and not about me -- but about the people and future of Portland,” Smith said. He was on vacation Wednesday and not available for comment in person.
KGW took to the streets of Portland to ask some voters what they thought.
Portland resident Tom Connerty said in his opinion, Smith's driving infractions are a reflection on his character.
"It shows that he's irresponsible," Connerty said. "You know, I've had a couple of tickets in my life and you can forgive a handful of them. But that's a high number."
Lindsay Price, also a Portlander, disagreed.
"I guess I'd be a bit of a hypocrite if it did [impact my vote] because I've had some as well," she said.
And Lindsay Johnson, of Portland, wanted more information before she made a judgment.
"I do find that concerning. It's something that I didn't know so I would be interested in maybe finding out more about the story before I came to any personal conclusions about it," she said.