Portlanders approve historic change to city government

Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 4:39 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Portlanders have spoken and said they want major changes to how their city’s government is run. Voters approved a package of reforms that will overhaul a system that has been in place for more than one hundred years.

City staff held a press conference Wednesday and said this historic transition is their highest priority. They said they’ve already started mapping out how they’ll accomplish all that is required by the charter by 2025.

Portland city staff and Mayor Ted Wheeler said they hear the people -- loud and clear.

“From top to bottom and side-to-side, Portland City government must do better, much, much, better,” Mayor Wheeler said.

A response to voters approving Measure 26-228, which is a package of reforms that will overhaul the city’s more than a century-old system of government.

“Two years from now Portland will hold its first election using ranked choice voting and geographic districts,” Michael Jordan, Chief Administrator Officer, said.

Currently, Portland has a commissioner-based government. The city council is made up of a mayor and four commissioners. In this new system, the city council would expand to 12 members and instead of a city-wide vote, new members would be selected from within four new city council districts.

Another major change, voters will be able to rank candidates in order of preference. Also, instead of commissioners running bureaus, a city administrator alongside the mayor will manage the city, and the city council would set policies.

City staff members said the work has already begun.

“The district commission has to complete their work by September 1st, 2023. The ranked-choice voting needs to be in place for the 2024 election. And then the roles and responsibilities of our elected officials also need to be established,” Shoshanah Oppenheim, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, said.

Mayor Wheeler said he’s committed to ushering in these historic changes while still addressing the current needs of the city.

“Prepare for better governance, improve our system of bureau management oversight, and stay focused on addressing Portlanders’ toughest problems of homelessness and public safety,” Mayor Wheeler said.

Commissioner Mingus Mapps had opposed this measure. Now that the measure has passed he sent us a statement saying, “I will do my best to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of our new form of government.”

For more details on the transition visit Portland.gov/transition.