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Terry Schrunk

In office
1957 – 1973
Preceded by Fred L. Peterson
Succeeded by Neil Goldschmidt

Born 1914
Died March 4, 1975
Profession Law enforcement
Terry Schrunk Plaza in Portland, Oregon.

Terry Doyle Schrunk was an American politician who served as the mayor for the city of Portland, Oregon, from 1957–1973, a length tying George Luis Baker who also served 17 years (1917-1933).[1] [2] Previously he was the sheriff of Multnomah County.[3] In his 1956 campaign for mayor, he advocated for urban renewal.[4] Schrunk beat incumbent Fred Peterson by 17,000 votes in a nine-person primary, but did not get an absolute majority, and then beat Peterson in the fall run-off election.[5]


In mid-twentieth-century Portland, gambling dens, brothels, and unlicensed bars operated virtually uninhibited by police as long as vice racketeers paid scheduled kickbacks to key city law enforcement officials.[6]

Schrunck was elected mayor with Teamsters union support, allegedly in part because the incumbent Republican Mayor, Fred Peterson offended the union when he wouldn't oust Police chief J. Bardell Purcell. The Teamsters felt that Purcell impeded their drive to open a wider vice business in Portland.[7]

An allegation against Mayor Schrunk soon landed him before the special Senate committee headed by Arkansas Democrat John McClellan investigating U.S. labor racketeering in March 1957. While still sheriff in September 1955, Schrunk and his deputies had raided the 8212 Club, a gambling and after-hours drinking joint financed by Portland Racketeer James B. Elkins. Elkins testified that the manager, Clifford Bennett, told him he had paid Schrunk $500, and the sheriff had gone away without causing any more trouble—except for arresting a few drunks. Although Bennett refused to testify, several others confirmed pieces of the story. Schrunk flatly denied having taken bribes from Bennett. But he did admit that his deputies had raided the 8212 Club, seen liquor being illegally served after hours, spotted gambling equipment all over the place—and that he had gone away without taking further action.[7]

Robert Kennedy, then the lead attorney for the Senate committee, came to Portland to testify against him. Jurors acquitted Schrunk in less than two hours.[8]

Three years later, Kennedy was managing his brother, Senator John F. Kennedy's, presidential campaign, with Oregon one of seven primaries that JFK entered. Kennedy's pursuit of Schrunk had angered enough Oregon Democrat's that some of JFK's key supporters persuaded Kennedy operative Joseph S. Miller to ask Senator Kennedy to keep his younger brother out of Oregon. Although JFK largely accepted the advice, Miller's bluntness angered both brothers.[9]. Continued resentment by Schrunk and his supporters was seen as a contributing factor to Robert Kennedy losing the Oregon Democratic Primary to Eugene McCarthy in May 1968.

See also


  1. ^ Portland Oregon Mayors
  2. ^ Office of the mayor
  3. ^ Boone, June. Portland of years past: 25 years ago: 1978 a Julia Child she isn't. The Oregonian, July 10, 2003.
  4. ^ Frank, Ryan. Urban renewal fact check. The Oregonian, May 30, 2006.
  5. ^ Dee Lane and Paul Koberstein. Runoff likely in mayor's race. The Oregonian, May 19, 1988.
  6. ^ Robert C. Donnelly (Fall 2003). "Organizing Portland, Organized Crime, Municipal Corruption, and the Teamsters Union". Oregon Historical Quarterly Vol. 104 No. 3,.  
  7. ^ a b "INVESTIGATIONS: The Teamsters Take Over". Time (magazine). March 18, 1957.,9171,809184-1,00.html.  
  8. ^ Griffin, Anna; Arthur Gregg Sulzberger (March 21, 2009). "Influential Multnomah County prosecutor guards his privacy". The Oregonian.  
  9. ^ Miller, Jospeh S. (2008)The Wicked Wine of Democracy, University of WA Press, pp 131-132.
Preceded by
Fred L. Peterson
Mayor of Portland, Oregon
Succeeded by
Neil Goldschmidt


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