The League of Young Voters

Chamber and League to Charter Commission: Elected Mayor for Portland
July 16, 2009, 5:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The Portland Community Chamber and The League of Young Voters Urge the Charter Commission to Include a Popularly-Elected Mayor in Recommendations to Voters

Tonight, Portland‟s Charter Commission will ask the public for guidance on which issues it wants the Commission to examine.  The unlikely pairing of the League of Young Voters and the Portland Community Chamber highlights an important issue: Portland‟s mayor should be elected citywide, and should serve a longer term than the current one year.

During the 2008 election cycle, The League of Young Voters and Portland Community Chamber were instrumental in creating the Charter Commission, and both organizations have maintained their focus on their priority issue: elected mayor. The Chamber convened a task force and published a report that examines the balance of power among mayor, manager, and council. The League held a forum with Commission candidates and published a voter guide with endorsements.

“When it comes to local policy and politics, the people of Portland are well-informed and highly-engaged,” said League Director Harris Parnell.  “Yet voters have no real say in who occupies the City‟s highest office.”

Chris O‟Neil, the Chamber‟s City Hall liaison, says the Commission needs to consider mayoral models that will work in Portland. “We are cautious about a „strong‟ mayor with Executive powers, but we think the Commission should, at the very least, offer voters a mayor with political power.”

Both The League and the Chamber agree that the exchange of ideas in a mayoral campaign will produce a leader who has a political mandate from the people, and that leader should then have three or four years to fulfill the mandate.  The two organizations also urge the commissioners to set aside personal opinion so that they can offer voters choices about the structure of Portland‟s government. The 1986 Charter Commission discussed an elected-mayor, but in the end did not offer a model to voters.

“A Commission this diverse is unlikely to reach consensus on an ideal mayoral model, but it should still send one or more to the voters for debate and approval,” O‟Neil said.

While there are other issues of interest to the Chamber and The League, including Instant Runoff Voting, they want the Commission to focus on an elected mayor.

Parnell said, “A major reason Portlanders voted to open the Charter was to create an elected mayor and we hope the Charter Commission allows the public the opportunity to vote on this important issue.”


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