Learn About Charter Review & Meet Your Commissioners

Resource
Charter Commission Meet your Commissioners
On this page

Learn About the Charter Review Process

What is the Portland Charter Commission

The Charter Commission is an independent volunteer body composed of 20 Portlanders that is tasked with reviewing and proposing changes to the City of Portland’s Charter for Portlanders to vote on. The Commission is an independent body and sets its own scope of work.

What is a Charter? 

A City Charter is like our City's constitution and is a guiding document that establishes the government system and structure of a city. The Charter creates the City as legal entity, authorizes City powers, and outlines basic broad fundamentals of city government, among many other things. 

What's Commission's Authority?

The Commission has the unique authority If 15 or more commissioners agree to a recommended change, those recommendations go directly to the ballot Portlanders to vote on. It is only by a vote of Portlanders that the charter may be changed. ​

What's the Commission's timeline?

A Charter Commission must be appointed at least once every 10 years to review and revise our City’s charter. City Council appointed the current 20 Portlanders to the Charter Commission in December 2020 and their service ends on December 2022.

What changes is the Commission looking at?

Early in the Commission voted to approach charter review in two phases – meaning two sets of issues and two election cycles. Phase I was focused on changes to City government, looking at our City's form of government and elections, and those changes will be on the November 2022 ballot for Portlanders to vote on. Phase II which will begin in summer 2022 may consider additional reforms and may be referred to a 2023 ballot.

How can I get involved and engage with the Commission?

The important work of charter reform requires engaging Portlanders across and intersecting neighborhoods, lived experiences, and backgrounds. The Charter Commission is committed to a community-driven process to inform its decision making and having an equitable, accessible, and transparent community engagement process that informs decision making. The Commission has established a community engagement subcommittee to co-create engagement strategies to meaningfully engage Portland’s diverse communities in the charter review process with a focus on Portlanders who have been historically left out of City Hall decision making. To learn about ways to engage with the Commission— check out the Community Engagement section of our website.

What are the Commission's desired outcome?

Very early in charter review, the Commission spent time articulating its desired outcomes for Phase 1 of charter reform. Any potential charter reform has been evaluated based on their ability to advance these outcomes:

  1. Participatory and growing democracy with more voices being heard in elections​
  2. Accessible and transparent government with Councilors who are easy to reach​
  3. Reflective government with Councilors who look like the community they represent​
  4. Responsive government with Councilors who understand your community needs
  5. Accountable government with Councilors who answer to the people
  6. Trustworthy government with Councilors who safeguard democracy​

Where is our current Charter?

Review the City Charter as we consider possible updates for the future


Meet Your Commissioners

Amira Streeter

A Black woman with dark hair and eyes smiles at the camera. She is wearing a black sweater with a white collared shirt underneath.

Amira is a millennial Black-American woman with extensive experience in government policy, collaborative problem solving, and community empowerment. As a member of Governor Brown’s staff, she serves as the Natural Resources Policy Advisor. Her policy portfolio includes sustainability and environmental justice. Before working for Governor Brown, Amira has built her career in the private and non-profit sectors and several levels of government, including city government and the legislative branch of the state. A transplant from Maryland, she moved to Portland to earn a J.D. and a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law from Lewis & Clark Law School. She has been a proud Portlander for 10 years. 

Personal Fact

My favorite thing to do on a rainy day is to curl up with a good book, a warm cup of tea and my dog. 

Why are you excited to serve on the Charter Commission?

"What interests me about serving on the Commission is the potential to create historical change.  We are at a pivotal moment in history and I am most excited about serving the City in an impactful way to shape Portland for myself, my community, and future generations."


Andrew Speer

A Black man with dark eyes and black rimmed glasses smiles at the camera. He has little hair on his head and is clean shaven. He is wearing a dark blue blazer and a light blue shirt.

Andrew is a long time Parkrose resident and lives in the Argay Terrace neighborhood with his wife and two children. He was raised in the Portland metro area and is one of six children. From 2000-2004, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantryman and deployed twice during his service. Professionally, Andrew works in local government affairs for a local electric utility. Andrew is also very active in his community, serving on multiple boards and committees, and in 2019 was elected to the Mt. Hood Community College board of education where he represents outer East Portland on the board. He holds a Bachelor and Master of Science in Economics from Portland State University.

Personal Fact

I love the outdoors, working in the yard, hiking, and running. I also love to work on home improvement projects and updating my mid-century 1960’s home.

Why are you excited to serve on the Charter Commission?

"I want to bring my diverse lived experience and passion for equitable outcomes onto the committee as lenses for how to consider and structure city leadership. I also want to ensure a voice and representation for outer East Portland on the Commission."


Anthony Castaneda

A white man wearing a gray sweater smiles at the camera.

Anthony is a first-generation Mexican-American, who was born and raised in Oregon. He moved to Portland a decade ago and quickly fell in love with the city, though often misses his small town and surrounding fields of crops. Anthony is currently the Policy Manager at a local non-profit serving children, youth, and families in the Portland metro. He holds a dual BA in Russian and Political Science from Portland State University and a joint MPP/MA from the University of Michigan. 

Personal Fact

I enjoy large family gatherings and chasing around my nephews and nieces.

Why are you excited to serve on the Charter Commission?

"My interest stems from my passion for public service and a commitment to equity and inclusion." 


Becca Uherbelau

A tan woman with long dark hair smiles at the camera. Portland's convention center can be seen in the background.

Becca Uherbelau served as the former Executive Director of Our Oregon, leading the organization’s work to advance social and economic justice with a focus on ballot measures. Before directing Our Oregon, Becca was the Community Relations Manager for Metro, leading the engagement and community partnership strategy to develop and implement the agency’s racial equity strategy. Becca has been working in community and public service, grassroots advocacy and politics for over two decades. She has worked for local, legislative and statewide elected officials, advocacy and community-based non-profits and has spearheaded statewide ballot measure, local levy and candidate campaigns. Becca has served on the boards of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, the Oregon State Board of Nursing, New Leadership Oregon and the Oregon League of Minority Voters. In all of her work, she seeks to dismantle systems of oppression, build power in communities and advance racial and gender equity. Becca grew up in a small Southern Oregon town and has lived in Portland since 1994 - residing in the lower Eliot, Sabin and King neighborhoods of NE Portland for nearly 20 years. Her children attend their neighborhood schools, Sabin Elementary and Grant High School.

Personal Fact

Some of my favorite things to do are to listen to live music, enjoy someone else’s expert cooking and compete in family dance-offs. I am also obsessed - much to my family’s chagrin - with holiday-themed movies and obscenely-early seasonal decorating.

Why are you excited to serve on the Charter Commission?

My interest in serving on the commission centers around making decision-making at the City more accessible and accountable to all Portlanders and more representative - demographically, geographically and in terms of lived experience - of the city's population. I am also deeply interested in making the charter review process open, transparent and accessible to all Portlanders.


Brenda Ketah

Brenda

Brenda is the Executive Director of the Home Builders Foundation-HomeAid Portland where she started in 2011. HomeAid’s mission is to help people experiencing or at risk of homelessness build new lives through construction, community engagement and education. Brenda serves on the Board of HomeAid America and as a representative on the Chapter Advisory Council. Brenda’s community involvement outside of workhas focused on work in her local neighborhood and local schools, serving as a Vice President on the Portland Council PTA Board of Directors, and starting, implementing and maintaining a food backpack program for students facing food insecurity at two low-income schools. Brenda was honored for her work and dedication to families and students with the prestigious Oregon PTA Lifetime Achievement Award. Brenda is originally from Alaska and has lived in the Portland area for over 20 years. She and her partner Dave have been married for 29 years, have three kids and enjoy hanging out with their neighbors in North Portland.

Personal Fact

I grew up in Alaska and love hiking, backpacking, camping, skiing, snowshoeing and cycling.  

Why are you excited to serve on the Charter Commission?

I am excited to participate in a process that considers what government structure will help Portland become a more equitable community.


Bryan William Lewis

A black man with dark hair and red shirt smiles at the camera.

Bryan was born in Portland and has been working to empower communities since he was thirteen years old. Bryan served on the Multnomah Youth Commission for nine years, and was a Commissioner serving on the Executive Board of the Commission on Children, Families and Community of Multnomah County as well as serving on the Executive Committee of Take the Time. In his youth, he did a lot of student and campus organizing. He is a member of the NAACP Portland, Oregon chapter, a Precinct Committee Person for the Multnomah County Democratic Party and is President for the national nonprofit Community Rights US. Bryan is a former union organizer with the following organizations: SEIU local 503 and 49, a member of Communication Workers of American, local 7901; and member of the National Popular Vote Oregon. Bryan is interested in how new and emerging social movements can collaborate for a more just and peaceful world.

Personal Fact

I am an artist and aspiring if not wannabe surfer.

Why are you excited to serve on the Charter Commission?

I want to serve as a Charter Commissioner to empower and embolden citizens of Portland to help make our document and government a tool for our collective betterment.


Candace Avalos

A Black woman with dark curly hair smiles at the camera. The background behind her is blurred while she's in focus.

Candace Avalos (she/her) is a first generation American Blacktina, daughter of Guatemalan immigrants & Black Virginians from the south. After receiving her Masters of Education in Higher Education Administration from JMU, she moved to Portland in 2013 to work at PSU advising Student Government & Greek Life. As Chair of the Citizen Review Committee and serving on the Governor's Public Safety Training and Standards Task Force, she works to bring transparency and accountability to Portland Police. A co-founder of the Black Millennial Movement, she shows up for the community in a variety of ways, including as a board member for Portland: Neighbors Welcome and a communication coordinator for the Oregon Kickball Club board. She currently lives in NE Portland.

Personal Fact 

I love perfecting my skills in the kitchen from tricks I learn through various cooking shows I watch like Top Chef, Hell's Kitchen, Master Chef, Cutthroat Kitchen, Chopped, etc.—and my favorite celebrity chef is Gordon Ramsay! 

Why are you excited to serve on the Charter Commission?

Our archaic system of government, rooted in Jim Crow-era segregation, has created a lack of consistency and long-term strategic planning to address the most pressing problems facing our communities. I want to help lead an effort to bring all Portlanders to the table to envision a city charter that best serves our unique needs as a city.


Dave Galat

A white man with light colored eyes and glasses looks off to the side of the camera.

Dave was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He attended Cleveland High School and studied German and English Literature at the University of Oregon. After college he moved to San Francisco, living in the Bay Area for roughly 20 years. During that time (1996) Dave was in an accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury. Since then his career has been focused on navigating accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities as related to public entities. In 2014 Dave moved back to Portland to raise his family and start work with the City of Portland as an ADA Coordinator. He has two young children and lives in southeast Portland.

Personal Fact

I love the Pacific Northwest and try to get out as much as possible with my family and friends to take advantage of our nature, history, culture, and food.

Why are you excited to serve on the Charter Commission? 

I am excited to be a part of the Charter Commission because I know the value of having voices heard from all corners of our community will enhance the work that the City does to make Portland a truly inclusive city for everyone.


David Chen 

Picture of Charter Commissioner, David Chen

David is a business attorney with more than 20 years of legal experience, most recently at an international law firm where he practiced in mergers and acquisitions. David also co-founded a bioinformatics startup and served in the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice litigating employment discrimination cases. 

He currently is a board member of Ecotrust and co-chair of Ecotrust Investments. His other civic engagements have included serving on the legal team that was awarded The American Lawyer's 2013 Pro Bono Deal of the Year, serving as the inaugural chair of the investment committee and as a board and finance committee member at the Portland Community College Foundation, and serving on the board of directors of the Homeless Prenatal Program, a social services agency in San Francisco.

David has a BA in public policy from Duke University and a JD from Stanford Law School.

Personal Fact

David has run 14 marathons, including Boston four times as a qualifier, and enjoys exploring the waterfront, Forest Park and Portland's other running trails.

Why are you excited to serve on the Charter Commission?

Serving on the Charter Commission is a unique opportunity to influence directly the executive structure of our city government, how diverse communities and constituencies are heard and represented, and ultimately how our government addresses the basic functions to which citizens are entitled. I am excited by the opportunity to consider and recommend change in partnership with the other commissioners and the community


David Knowles 

David Knowles, Charter Commissioner 2022

David has worked in politics, public policy and law for over 40 years.  He practiced law for 9 years, was an elected Metro Councilor and served the City of Portland as Director of the Bureau of Planning.  Most recently he has worked as a land use and transportation consultant for cities and transit agencies in the Pacific Northwest.   In both public and private work he has often been called on to help create consensus around major public policy issues where the participants have multiple, often conflicting interests.   David and his wife Pam, who served two terms on the Board of Directors of Portland Public Schools, live in the Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood.  Their three sons attended Portland Public Schools and graduated from Grant High School.  David has an undergraduate degree in economics and political science from Lewis and Clark College and a law degree from Northwestern School of Law.

Personal Fact

David is an avid fly fisherman and rock climber.  His favorite places away from Portland are the Metolius and Deschutes rivers and Smith Rocks State Park. 

Why are you excited to serve on the Charter Commission? 

I love our City but we have big complicated problems.  The Charter Commission can help reform City government in a way that dramatically improves the delivery of critical public services while also creating opportunities for new leadership


Debbie Kitchin

A white woman with light colored hair and dark rimmed glasses smiles directly at the camera. She is wearing a grey suit and  is against a grey background.

Debbie Kitchin is a Principal of InterWorks, L.L.C., a general contractor specializing in commercial tenant improvement and renovation and residential remodeling since 1994. InterWorks is an award-winning contractor with expertise in sustainable building practices. Prior to joining the family business in 1996, Debbie was a regional economist for 18 years, mostly at the Northwest Power Planning Council. Debbie serves as Immediate Past President of the Board of Directors of the Central Eastside Industrial Council and a member of the Board of Directors of Greater Portland Inc. She served as Chair and Member of the Board of Directors of the Energy Trust of Oregon (member for 16 years). She is Chair Emeritus of the Portland Business Alliance. Debbie was awarded the 2017 William S. Naito Outstanding Service Award and the 2015 DJC Women of Vision Award. Debbie has a B.A. in Economics from Reed College and the MBA from Portland State University.

Personal Fact

I love living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and enjoy many outdoor activities including skiing, soccer, boogie boarding, golf and hiking. 

Why are you excited to serve on the Charter Commission?

It is important to have a form of government that promotes equitable representation for all members of our community. As the primary provider of services that all Portlanders rely on, our city needs a governmental structure that facilitates efficient and effective delivery of services.


Debra Porta

A grey, short haired woman with small red glasses smiles at the camera.

Debra has been a resident of Portland for over twenty years, moving here from Texas in 1997. After a career in restaurant management and customer service, Debra returned to college at 36, ultimately receiving a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with a Specialization in Nonprofit Management. In addition to serving as Executive Director for a local LGBTQ+ nonprofit organization, Debra supports and advises a variety of small and emerging nonprofits and community organizations. Actively engaged in the LGBTQ+ community, Debra and her wife of seven years live in North Portland.

Personal Fact

I am a life-long collector of recipes, and I love to cook for other people.

Why are you excited to serve on the Charter Commission?

I want to serve on the Charter Commission to help ensure a variety of diverse voices are actively included in the process. I also want to help “demystify” these kinds of processes and engage people in their own governance structures.


Gloria Cruz 

Picture of Gloria Cruz

 Gloria (they |them) is passionate about building community. They embrace the idea that excellence lies in paying attention to and carrying out the details—the “small stuff.” That is why in their role as a senior advisor to Human Resources they understand the value and impact of listening to learn. Gloria’s career has been typical of many in the HR field, with experience in organizations of different sizes in varying industries. They are focused on creating an environment of inclusivity and belonging by building trust and treating people with compassion and respect. Gloria approaches their work with self-awareness and strives to remain in a constant state of curiosity—both are necessary tools to help people achieve their best. In their spare time, Gloria serves on the board for a small nonprofit that aims to broaden access to bicycling and its benefits.

Personal Fact

Gloria grew up in a barbershop. Their grandfather opened it and then their father took it over - the two worked side by side for over 40 years. It was the beginning of what became a life-long fascination with people and their stories.


Hanna Osman

A Black woman with a dark al-amira and bright eyeshadow smiles at the camera. She is outside, with dark trees behind her.

Hanna Osman is an Assistant Planner with the City of Portland's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, with a background in Public Health. Her work on the West Portland Town Center Plan includes stewarding an inclusive community engagement process and applying a health equity lens to a major community planning project. Her interests include racial equity, health equity, social justice, community engagement, social determinant of health and mobility justice. She values her time with her family, friends and community. As a board member of the Somali Empowerment Circle, a small grassroots organization, she has co-created a housing advocacy toolkit that is culturally specific to the Somali community in Oregon in hopes of improving civic engagement in her community so that they are brought to the table when important housing policies are being discussed and implemented. As she moves forward professionally, she is actively discovering ways to bring her public health lens into the urban planning world, especially on how to use public health frameworks that lay the foundation to a healthier community. In all, Hanna is an aspiring leader that is building on the work of current and past leaders.

Personal Fact

I enjoy spending time with my loved ones, my cats and giving back to my community through my volunteerism with the Somali Empowerment Circle. 

Why are you excited to serve on the Charter Commission?

I want to serve on the Charter Commission because I want to learn the ways I can impact the city and its future. Looking at our current City Charter, there can be gaps or inequities, which can give us the opportunity to improve amendments and create recommendations that can strengthen the Charter. I also want to be able to engage with the public in a manner that supports and speaks to them, because as a City, we support our communities. If I am able to do this, I would accomplish many goals, especially the ones that are driven by humility and opportunities to give back to my community in a way that is unique. 


Raahi Reddy

A tan woman with dark  hair smiles at the camera. She is wearing bright eye shadow and bright blue earrings while standing in front of a wooden background.

Raahi Reddy has over 25 years of experience working at the intersections of racial justice, gender justice, environmental equity, economic development, and labor issues. She is a skilled coalition builder and effective strategic wrangler of researchers, policy advocates, trainers, and communicators to produce durable community impact. Raahi currently serves as the Director of Metro's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Program. Her team is responsible for helping Metro programs, investments and internal practices advance racial equity in the Portland-metro region. Prior to joining Metro, Raahi worked at the University of Oregon where she co-authored several groundbreaking reports on the experiences of low-wage working Oregonians including "The High Cost of Low Wages in Oregon.” She also led Basic Rights Oregon’s organizing program and spent over two decades in the labor movement. As a first-generation immigrant of South Asian descent, public service is central to Raahi living her values; she currently serves on the board of Family Forward Oregon and formerly served as board chair for the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO). Raahi holds a master’s degree in Urban Planning from UCLA.

Personal Fact

The trees of Tabor are magical. Many days you can find my 2-year-old pup and me on a stroll-listening to birds, chasing squirrels (ok that’s him, not me) and taking in the views of this gorgeous city.

Why are you excited to serve on the Charter Commission?

The Charter Commission review will be a tremendous opportunity to assess and potentially reimagine the rules that undergird our City’s economy, political structures and how we operate as a city. I want to help City residents, especially the most disenfranchised, have access to this process, see themselves in  the future of Portland, and ultimately have a renewed sense of belonging in this place we call home.


Salome Chimuku

A Black woman with dark hair smiles at the camera. She is outside with trees and a building in the background.

Salomé Chimuku (she/her) is a first-generation Angolan-American. Salomé was born and raised in Portland and specializes in policy and equity work. Salomé attended Willamette University. She has worked as a staffer for many campaigns, elected leaders and organizations. Salomé alongside Cameron Whitten Co-Founded the Black Resilience Fund over the summer. Salomé speaks five languages and is also an award-winning artist. As a queer, disabled, immigrant woman Salomé joins the Charter Commission with the same devotion for transparency, accountability, accessibility and equity that she thinks is possible.

Personal Fact

I like to cosplay and have an all-black pit bull named Hercules.

Why are you excited to serve on the Charter Commission?

I am interested in serving on the Charter Commission to get Portland to walk its talk. Portland needs to be the accessible and equitable city it can be.


Yasmin Ibarra

A tan woman with long dark hair smiles at the camera. She is wearing a red checkered scarf and is against a dark background.

Yasmin Ibarra is the Political and Governmental Affairs Organizer for SEIU Local 49.  As a labor organizer, she lifts up the voices of members across Oregon, leads policy negotiations on issues impacting workers in our community and consults for local electoral campaigns. She has experience and background in political and community organizing. Yasmin moved from Hermiston to Monmouth where she was student body president at WOU and then worked her way up to Executive Director of the Oregon Student Association. It was through those roles that she developed a deep passion for education, social justice, and civic engagement. Since then she’s run and supported several political electoral campaigns in Oregon. These experiences showed her the power of individuals to address issues of racial and economic injustice. In all her work Yasmin has shown a commitment for helping people win real victories to improve their lives.

Personal Fact

In my spare time I enjoy cooking, learning how to play tennis and taking a bike ride around town.

Why are you excited to serve on the Charter Commission? 

It takes intentional engagement to make sure individuals can participate in the decisions for the City of Portland. There are barriers in our government structure that are not equitable, and I believe that changes to the Portland City Charter will ensure more perspectives are considered.

Contact

Sofía Álvarez-Castro

Charter Commission Engagement & Communications Coordinator