Buzz about Roy Jay adds to his cachet

Buzz about Roy Jay adds to his cachet


 Monday July 16, 2007

Buzz about Roy Jay adds to his cachet 

In politics, timing is everything. And entrepreneurial businessman Roy Jay has certainly got that on his side right now.

The buzz is making the rounds: Is he running for mayor?

The question was first raised in May on the NW Republican blog ( by Ted Piccolo, who gushes with praise for Jay’s street-smart business sense and “jubilant personality.”

“I think Portland is due for an African American mayor,” he writes.

Ever the self-marketer, Jay posted various stories about the possibility of a mayoral run on his personal Web site, But when asked his thoughts, Jay responds with a wink and a smile.

“It’s too early for me to say,” says the 59-year-old.

Just the fact that his name is being bandied about — should Tom Potter decide not to run for re-election — increases Jay’s political cachet. Already when Jay, at 6-foot-4, struts into a room wearing one of his tailored Italian suits, people notice.

Now, though, politicians are texting him on his Blackberry and asking to schedule lunch. And potential donors whisper that they’re setting aside campaign money.


An energetic cheerleader for Portland — and himself — Jay’s life story is a series of self-made miracles.


Years ago, Jay carved a niche in the multibillion-dollar convention, meeting and leisure travel business and this year was elected president of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners, an influential 23-year-old nonprofit based just outside Washington, D.C.


In 2004, Jay — CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon — rallied an alliance of minority chambers of commerce to snatch the four-year operations contract for the city’s Smart Park public parking garages and lots.


And, in February, Jay solicited $15,000 within hours from his corporate friends at the Heathman Hotel, Safeway, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and the Portland Oregon Visitors Association to support the burned down Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in Northeast Portland.


Jay’s deepest passion seems to be for his program, Project Clean Slate. He says it has helped thousands of Multnomah County residents regain driver’s licenses, expunge minor criminal convictions, such as marijuana possession, and convert outstanding fines to community service. All participants also have to renegotiate any past due child support.

“They’re coming from every ZIP code, every occupation, every income,” says Jay, whose program is featured in the current edition of Fortune Small Business magazine. “Everybody’s got a different story.”

Project Clean Slate, which is still in operation, has been run since 2005 with volunteers. During this year’s legislative session — with the help of Rep. Chip Shields, D-Portland, — it was earmarked to receive $275,000. Almost immediately, Jay, an expert at leveraging his bets, posted a Craigslist online ad to hire an experienced grant writer and got 12 resumes.

Bruce Melvin, who works as a car detailer, says he cleared out blackberry bushes in Portland parks for four days to reinstate his driver’s license after Melvin’s conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol.

“Sometimes, the alcoholics and addicts fall through the cracks and keep relapsing,” says Melvin, who says he’s been sober since July 2006. “Everybody else gives up and the doors are closed on them. That’s why programs like this are very important. It’s a blessing to be able to reach your full potential.”

Jay, who grew up in the rough-and-tumble Columbia Villa housing project, knows all about blessings and potential. He owns several businesses, including limousine-rental companies and a tourism marketing firm. Whether he runs for mayor or not, you can be sure his name is being spoken all over this city.

Comments are closed.