City Councilor Belinda Ray has withdrawn from the 2019 Portland mayoral race.

A two-term councilor representing the eastern half of the peninsula and the islands, Ray made the announcement in a blog post Sunday, saying that she made the “grueling” decision in consultation with her family. She will continue to serve in her role as District 1 councilor.

“After a great deal of soul-searching and conversations with my family, I have come to the conclusion that while I still very much want to be Portland’s next mayor and still believe I would be excellent at the job, pursuing this position is not the right choice for me at this time,” Ray said.

Ray has been at the forefront of the city’s efforts to replace the Oxford Street Shelter, which serves more than 150 homeless adults every night. She recently secured a narrow 5-4 vote to locate a new shelter in the Riverton neighborhood. But that decision came after a prolonged search during which several neighborhood groups rose up in opposition both to specific locations and the process in general.

Ray’s decision leaves four announced candidates. Two sitting councilors and a former school board member are left to challenge Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling, who formally launched his campaign on June 12.

Strimling’s challengers are City Councilors Justin Costa and Spencer Thibodeau, as well as Kate Snyder, a former school board member and executive director of educational nonprofit, Foundation for Public Schools.

Ray praised Costa and Thibodeau in her announcement. “I know we would have remained trusted colleagues and friends throughout this process, no matter the outcome,” Ray said. “Thank you for your camaraderie, your service on the council and your integrity.”

Nomination papers for the mayor’s race, as well as for the District 3 and at-large council seats, are available July 1.

District 3 Councilor Brian Batson is not seeking a second term. At-Large Councilor Pious Ali said Monday he will seek re-election.


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