Mapps unveils dueling proposal to shake up charter reform debate

Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 6:32 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Not everyone is in agreement about the future of local government in Portland. Two separate campaign events Monday afternoon made that very clear.

Commissioner Mingus Mapps says he supports city government reform, but not Measure 26-228, which is being proposed to Portland voters in November.

At a Monday afternoon press conference, Mapps’ newly formed Ulysses Pac unveiled a similar but different proposal than what is being pushed by Portland United for Change, the group behind the campaign to pass measure 26-228.

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On Election Day this November, measure 26-228 will ask Portlanders whether they want a mayor-council form of government. There would be four districts in the city each represented by three councilors. At a campaign event Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for Portland United for Change, the group behind the measure, says this will help accurately reflect Portland’s growing population.

“The actual size of four multi-member districts with three city councilmembers each would bring the ratio of city councilors to Portlanders closer to 1 for every 50,000 people,” said campaign communications director Damon Motz-Storey.

Hours later, Commissioner Mapps voiced his opposition by unveiling a new charter reform proposal that would create 7 council districts represented by one councilmember, or single-member districts. Mapps says this is more efficient because other levels of government are the same.

“Single member district system we use in the county, we use in Congress, it’s the system that we have all grown up with and know quite well,” said Mapps. “It is tested and has proven effective in many situations.”

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If measure 26-228 passes, Portland’s mayor would oversee day-to-day city business and appoint a city manager to oversee the city bureaus. Mapp’s proposal is similar in this regard but differs when it comes to the mayor’s power. If measure 26-228 passes, the mayor would not have veto power, but would under Mapps’ proposal. Portland United for Change feels it’s about a fair balance of power.

“Upon growing the city council and making it more representative of all of Portland’s diverse communities, to then give the mayor the ability to veto policies that the more representative city council would pass, might be too much power in the executive branch,” said Motz-Storey.

Mapps and his Ulysses Pac say, having a mayor with veto power over council is necessary to keep the mayor involved in policy changes.

“I think it’s vitally important that the mayor be a member of city council, that he is continually engaged with his or her colleagues,” said Mapps.

Mapps’ proposal is merely just a proposal, and he says this would only move forward if the current ballot measure fails. Mapps and fellow commissioner, Dan Ryan, say while they will vote against the charter reform proposal in November, they will support measure 26-228 if it passes and ensure a peaceful transition of change in government structure.