Oregon Councilman Mike Seferian has taken out petitions to run for the mayor’s office this November.
“As a councilman, I’m more administratively bound,” said Seferian, who ran for mayor in 2001, but lost to Marge Brown. “The mayor orchestrates what happens now. Sometimes I may overextend my bounds as a councilman and actually want to be an administrator instead of a legislator. I really think that’s more of who I am.”
Seferian has been on council for nine terms. The experience has made him more prepared to be mayor, he said.
“I needed to know a lot of things, get familiar with the operations, so that if I am going to be an administrator, I want to be known as a good one, not a mediocre one. I wouldn’t be satisfied with that,” he said.
After he lost to Brown, he considered running for mayor in 2005, he said, but declined so he could focus on his kids. Seferian became a widower when his wife died of cancer several years ago, leaving him to raise three young children on his own.
“When 2005 came around, I realized my kids were coming of age. I was going to help them go their own way so they were able to stand on their own two feet,” said Seferian, who owns an auto repair shop, Bob and Joe’s 76 at the corner of Starr Avenue and Dearborn Street.
Today, his children are grown and on their own. The timing is right to run for mayor, he said.
“I think now is the time. If I had been ready in 2001, I might have been able to be a father and work my business, and be mayor at the same time. I’m sure I’m in much better shape to do that now than I was back then.”
Seferian’s straightforward responses to issues are occasionally interpreted as insensitive to the public, he said, and may have affected his first run for mayor.
“It’s a liability,” said Seferian. “Sometimes, I tell people things they don’t want to hear. I’ve been very upfront and honest with whomever I deal with. They might not have agreed with me. Earlier in my political career, I wasn’t very good at explaining my decisions. I’ve gotten better at so that when I make a decision, and someone doesn’t agree with it, they understand why I made it. It wasn’t for personal gain, but for the city’s best interests. As time went on, those same people who might have thought of me as a little too straightforward came to trust my honesty. I’ve been here quite a long time now. You won’t find anyone who says I pulled the rug out from under them. I work very hard not to do that.”
Seferian, an independent, has been a voice of opposition to Mayor Marge Brown, a Democrat. On March 23, Seferian led opposition to council’s narrow 4-3 vote to purchase property on Pickle Road for $195,000 for a passive park, which had been supported Brown. After opponents showed up at meetings to criticize council for buying the property during a recession, Seferian brought the matter up again on April 13 for reconsideration. This time, Democratic Councilmen James Seaman and Terry Reeves, who had previously supported the purchase, voted with Seferian, Councilmen Jerry Peach and Bill Myers to rescind the purchase by a vote of 5-2.