Feb 7, 2024 - Politics

Portland City Hall transition begins this summer

Photo illustration of chess pieces inside a circle with a grid and the map of Portland in the background.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Portland isn't set to switch to the mayor-council form of government until Jan. 1, 2025, but some changes are already underway.

Why it matters: In backing Measure 26-228 in November 2022, voters sought a new style of government. The new charter promises Portland will be run more like an enterprise than a non-profit.

This November, Portlanders will have to grasp rank choice voting and the four new geographical districts.

  • In 2025, they will have a mayor-and-city-administrator team running the city.
  • Meanwhile, the city council will be devoted to policy-making and engaging with the community, rather than managing the details of parks, pipes and police.

How it works: In an emergency, the mayor and the city administrator will have very different roles.

  • "From a water main break to an earthquake, the mayor will likely oversee the response at a high level and serve as the public-facing voice for the City of Portland," Portland's current chief administrative officer Michael Jordan told Axios.
  • "The city administrator is likely to be more hands-on, directing operations and communications to ensure a smooth response and recovery."

By the numbers: Six deputy city administrators will run the bureaus — like permitting, or arts and parks — and will report to the city administrator, instead of to elected officials.

  • With 12 commissioners instead of five, the goal is for neighborhoods to be better represented, with three council members from each district. Find yours here.

Where it stands: The bureaus will be in new groupings from July 1, but the full new organizational chart won't be up and running until 2025.

Be smart: Volunteers are available to explain the new system.

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