Portland is transitioning to a new model for city leadership, oversight and service delivery – one of three major changes underway for the city’s election system and form of government.
How Roles and Responsibilities are Changing
Under Portland’s current “commission” form of government, a mayor and four city councilors oversee the day-to-day operations of two dozen bureaus and offices, from parks to police and transportation to technology. Bureau assignments can shift anytime the mayor decides to make a change.
In the new system, city councilors will no longer manage bureaus. Instead, they will focus on developing laws and policies, engaging constituents and increasing community representation in decision-making. The mayor will have executive authority over city business, collaborating with and delegating responsibilities to a city administrator.
Portland’s mayor will no longer serve as a member of the city council, voting only to break ties on non-emergency ordinances. However, the city’s elected leader will be able to propose laws – and they will propose a budget for city council approval.
The city administrator will be hired by the mayor and confirmed by city council to implement laws and manage bureaus. They will hire, fire and supervise bureau directors, except for the police chief and the city attorney, who will be nominated by the mayor and approved by city council.
The Transition Process
Between November 2022 and November 2024, a transition team based in the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer is leading the shift to the new roles and responsibilities for elected officials and city administrators – and developing recommendations to improve service delivery.
With support from consultants, the transition team will work closely with city council offices, bureau leaders and the City of Portland’s 6,700 employees. They will recommend staffing levels and locations for elected officials’ offices in the new form of government, which requires city council approval.
Throughout this process the City of Portland will receive recommendations from a Charter Transition Advisory Committee, a community oversight group being appointed to make sure that the city implements voters’ direction.
An internal transition team was launched in November 2022, and a Charter Transition Advisory Committee will be appointed in January 2023. A project schedule will ensure that Portland is ready to host its first ranked-choice election with geographic districts in November 2024, and fully implement its new form of government in January 2025.
The City of Portland is committed to transparency and accountability. Stay tuned for more information about the transition.