Today, the Portland Charter Commission released proposed charter amendments to reform the city’s elections system and form of government – and invited Portlanders to weigh in before the Commission’s final vote next month.
The draft amendments are now available (amendments attached as appendix) for public comment and community feedback at a series of hearings that the Charter Commission will host in May. In addition to these hybrid, online and in-person comment opportunities, members of the public are encouraged to submit written feedback via email, mail or by phone. The deadline for comments is 5 p.m. on Monday, May 30. Finalized charter amendments will be voted on by the Charter Commission on June 14, 2022. If approved, Portland voters will get the final say on the November 2022 ballot.
The draft reform package of proposals includes:
- Ranked-choice voting, allowing voters to rank candidates in order of their preference
- Four new geographic districts with three members elected to represent each district, expanding the city council to a total of 12 members
- A city council that focuses on setting policy and a mayor elected citywide to run the city’s day-to-day operations, with the help of a professional city administrator
Viewpoints from Charter Commissioners:
“We are eager to hear from the public about these draft amendments, and it is important that Portlanders know this is ultimately up to them,” said Melanie Billings-Yun, co-chair of the Charter Commission. “We have assembled these recommendations, doing our best to capture what the public wants. We will keep refining our work, and then voters will get to decide whether to change the way our city functions.”
“Right now we have bureaus that operate as silos,” said Charter Commissioner Debbie Kitchin, one of the Commission’s previous co-chairs. “When we're confronting complex, interrelated problems such as houselessness, a housing shortage or climate change, we need all the bureaus to be moving in the same direction, working together, being able to take long-term actions and have consistent policies that they can implement over time.”
“No other city in the country is asking people who are supposed to be focused on policy, and big vision, to also be managing the day-to-day operations,” said Charter Commissioner Robin Ye. “Portland hasn’t increased its size of council in over 100 years, and our city has changed dramatically in 100 years. It’s time we invest in our democracy— we should give Portlanders a government that better represents their viewpoints and lived experiences.”
Charter Commission co-chair Gloria Cruz shared: "This is your chance to be heard— what is your vision for Portland? How can our city government better respond to your needs? Sign up to testify during the Commission’s upcoming hearings, submit written comments, or learn how to get involved.”
Community members are encouraged to visit the Charter Commission's landing page for May public hearings for more information on the hearings.