Steve Novick

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Steve Novick
Steve Novick.jpg
Steve Novick in 2007
Portland City Commissioner
In office
January 1, 2013 – January 1, 2017
Preceded byRandy Leonard
Succeeded byChloe Eudaly
Personal details
Born (1963-02-08) February 8, 1963 (age 55)
Newark, N.J.
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materUniversity of Oregon
Harvard Law School

Steven "Steve" Novick (born February 8, 1963) is a politician in the U.S. state of Oregon and a former environmental lawyer and political activist. Most recently he served a four-year term as a Portland City Commissioner – a member of the City Council of Portland – from January 2013 to January 2017. He was elected in May 2012[1] and assumed office on January 1, 2013.[2] In 2008, he ran for the Democratic Party's nomination for the United States Senate, for the seat then held by Republican Gordon Smith, but narrowly lost to Oregon House speaker Jeff Merkley.[3] On the Portland city council, he was in charge of the city's transportation department, among other responsibilities.[4] Novick ran for reelection to the city council in 2016 but lost to Chloe Eudaly.[5]

Early life[edit]

Novick was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1963. His parents, a waitress and a union organizer, moved the family to Cottage Grove, Oregon, in 1973.

Novick was born with significant physical disabilities, including a missing left hand and missing fibula bones in his legs. As a result, he uses a hook prosthesis and stands approximately 4 feet 9 inches (1.45 m) tall.[1][6] His disabilities have prompted him to use the slogan "The Fighter with the Hard Left Hook." His levity about his physical stature has drawn both positive and negative reviews from the press.[7]

In 1977, after low funding caused Novick's junior high school to close, he enrolled at the University of Oregon. After graduating at age 18, he attended Harvard Law School, earning a law degree at age 21.[8]


Novick is an attorney and former U.S. Department of Justice litigator. He spent nearly ten years arguing on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), culminating in the Love Canal case in upstate New York, on which he served as lead counsel.[8] Returning to Oregon, Novick worked as policy director for Tom Bruggere's unsuccessful 1996 Senate bid. He then served as chief of staff to the Democrats in the Oregon State Senate from 1997 to 1999.

Subsequently, he was Executive Director of the Center for Constructive Citizen Action, which spearheaded the fight against Bill Sizemore's Measure 91, which would have cut the State budget for schools, health care and public safety by more than 20%.[citation needed]

In 2002, Novick was policy director for Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski in his first, successful campaign for the governorship. From 2004 to 2006, he worked for Citizens for Oregon's Future, an organization dedicated to providing taxpayers useful, reliable information on tax and budget issues. In 2005, Novick developed a "balance the state budget" classroom exercise for high school students, which was used by social studies teachers in Creswell, Springfield, Salem and Portland.[citation needed]

Beginning in 1999, Novick turned his attention to the Oregon Lottery's payments to retailers, which he contended were illegally high. He and other education advocates brought a lawsuit challenging the lottery's payment, the lawsuit was successful at the Oregon Court of Appeals.[9] However, the Oregon Supreme Court overturned the decision, declaring the Lottery's payments legal.[10]

Senate candidacy[edit]

The 2008 Oregon Senate race was unusual in a number of respects. Although Democrats held all statewide offices in Oregon and had made gains in the Oregon state house (and nationwide) in the 2006 midterm elections, Republican incumbent Gordon Smith remained relatively popular. Unlike in elections past, there was no clear Democratic challenger; former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber indicated early on that he was not interested in challenging Smith, and prominent Democratic congressmen Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio also declined.

In January 2007, while the campaign was still in its infancy, Novick wrote a lengthy critique of Gordon Smith's record in the Portland Willamette Week.[11] The article outlined a strategy to beat Smith, who Novick argued was actually more vulnerable than appeared.

On April 18, 2007, Novick formally announced his candidacy for Senate. In his announcement, he stated that he didn't "want to wake up 10 years from now" and realize he had missed his chance.[12] He drew on his own unique persona from the start. "Oregon's working families need someone to fight for them- and a fighter needs a hard left hook."[12] On July 1, 2007, Novick announced that he had raised $190,000 in contributions during the first ten weeks of his campaign and was adding two paid campaign staff members.[13]

By the end of 2007, Federal Election Commission records showed that Novick had raised a total of $563,000 from 2100 donors, with an average donation of $258. At the time of filing, he had $293,000 on hand.[14]

On January 11, 2008, Novick released his first TV ad, a 30-second biographical spot that parodied the famous game show To Tell the Truth. The ad was produced and created by the firm of Eichenbaum & Associates, which also created the ads used in Wisconsin U.S. Senator Russ Feingold's three successful statewide campaigns.[6]

Novick ended up with 41 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, finishing a close second to Jeff Merkley. He endorsed Merkley and campaigned for him in the general election.[3]

Political positions[edit]

Novick spoke against the Iraq War in 2003, calling it "an oil grab and public-relations gimmick, sold on false pretenses, which is now producing $4 billion a month's worth of chaos."[15]

He accused Gordon Smith of changing his stance on illegal immigration to appease conservative voters. Novick stated, "It shows that he’s willing to do what it takes to get reelected. And if doing what it takes means punishing innocent children and turning against his previous so-called moderation on immigration, that’s what he will do."[16]

Novick has advocated for the removal of the cap on Social Security taxes for income above $100,000. He has stated that borrowing against the Federal retirement program has threatened the program's longevity and solvency.[17]

Portland City Council[edit]

In June 2011, Novick announced his intention to run for Portland City Council in 2012, for the seat then held by Randy Leonard, who had indicated he would not run for re-election. In the primary election, held on May 15, 2012, Novick received more than 75% of the vote,[18] winning him the seat outright,[1] for a term of office to begin the following January. In Portland municipal elections, any candidate receiving more than 50% of the vote in a primary election wins the race outright and the contest does not proceed to the November general election.[1] Novick was sworn in as a Portland City Commissioner (city council member) on January 1, 2013.[2]

In June 2013, after a four-month period in which new Mayor Charlie Hales temporarily moved all city bureaus (departments) under his own oversight, Hales assigned bureaus to the other four commissioners. Novick was given responsibility for the Portland Transportation Bureau and the bureaus of Emergency Management and Emergency Communications.[4]

Novick ran for reelection in 2016 but lost to Chloe Eudaly,[5] who consequently was scheduled to succeed him on the council in January 2017.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d Schmidt, Brad (May 15, 2012). "Steve Novick wins Portland City Council race (2012 primary election)". The Oregonian. Retrieved August 5, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Sarasohn, David (January 2, 2013). "In Amanda Fritz re-affirming ceremony, life imitates art: 200 wiseguy words". The Oregonian via OregonLive. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Walsh, Edward (May 21, 2008). "Merkley scores chance to take on Smith". The Oregonian. Archived from the original on May 30, 2008. Retrieved August 5, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Kost, Ryan (June 4, 2013) [online date June 3]. "Hales shuffles city bureaus". The Oregonian. p. B1. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Griffin, Anna (December 29, 2016). "The Quick Rise And Quicker Fall Of Outspoken Portland Commissioner Steve Novick". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved August 5, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Steves, David (January 31, 2008). "Ad campaign emphasizes candidate's uniqueness". The Register-Guard. Eugene, Oregon. Archived from the original on December 21, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  7. ^ Editorial (September 20, 2007). "Primary down to one". Ashland Daily Tidings. Retrieved August 5, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "About Steve". Archived from the original on July 6, 2007. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  9. ^ 'Wolf v. Oregon Lottery Commission', A125420 (Court of Appeals of the State of Oregon December 13, 2006).
  10. ^
  11. ^ Novick, Steve (January 31, 2007). "If I ran". Willamette Week. Retrieved August 5, 2017.
  12. ^ a b Chisholm, Kari (April 18, 2008). "He's in: Steve Novick takes on Gordon Smith" (Blog). Open Discussion. BlueOregon. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  13. ^ "Novick for U.S. Senate raises $190,000 in second quarter, announces new campaign staff" (Press release). Archived from the original on January 30, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  14. ^ Chisholm, Kari (January 15, 2008). "Senate '08: End-of-year money numbers" (Blog). In the News. BlueOregon. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  15. ^ The Nose (August 5, 2003). "A strong left hook" (Column). Willamette Week. Retrieved August 5, 2017.
  16. ^ Fogarty, Colin (October 31, 2007). "Sen. Smith's Immigration Vote Draws Scrutiny". OPB News. Retrieved August 5, 2017.
  17. ^ Steves, David (March 8, 2008). "Senate Democratic hopefuls fall to sniping". Archived from the original on December 21, 2008.[dead link]
  18. ^ "May 2012 Primary Election - Official Results". Office of the City Auditor, Portland. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  19. ^ Redden, Jim (November 10, 2016). "Eudaly win increases city focus on affordable housing". Portland Tribune. Retrieved November 10, 2016.