Less than a month after voters approved an historic suite of changes to their city government, nearly 300 Portlanders applied to help establish geographic districts for their future City Council as a member of the Independent District Commission.
Ballot Measure 26-228, which passed in November, included a package of reforms proposed by the Portland Charter Commission. One change on the way is the establishment of four geographic districts for Portland’s next city council, with an Independent District Commission leading the process.
Currently, all four of Portland’s city commissioners are elected citywide and allow for candidates to live anywhere in Portland. Beginning in November 2024, three city councilors will be elected in each of the four new geographic districts. The mayor and auditor will still be elected citywide.
Independent District Commission applications were due in December. This month, City Council formally appoints 13 commissioners, along with alternates, who represent a diversity of race, gender, age and geography.
City staff supported Mayor Ted Wheeler in narrowing the field of 279 candidates to those who will be considered for appointment this month. Applications received were scored based on four criteria:
- skills and knowledge to help the commission fulfil its work, such as prior experience with a redistricting process, elections expertise, or voter education and outreach;
- a commitment to advancing equity;
- ability to support the community engagement efforts of the commission;
- and a connection to a wide variety of Portland communities, such as public, private, non-profit, business, philanthropic, faith-based, racial or ethnic communities.
“We received phenomenal applications from so many wanting to engage fellow Portlanders and create districts in which all residents feel represented in their city government.” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “We see and are counting on the continued momentum to change our City’s future.”
The thirteen community members being considered for appointment to the Independent District Commission at the Jan. 25 City Council meeting are (alphabetical by first name):
- Amanda Manjarrez
- Arlene Kimura
- David Michael Siegel
- DaWayne Judd
- Edie Van Ness
- Joshua Laurente
- Kari Chisholm
- Lamar Wise
- Melody Valdini
- Neisha Saxena
- Paul Lumley
- Sharon VanSickle-Robbins
- Steve Fleischman
Alternate members will also be appointed on Jan. 25 and may be selected to move into a commission role should any of the appointed commissioners be unable to fulfil their duties.
The City Charter calls for a districting plan to be adopted by Sept. 1, 2023. Before then, the Independent District Commission will need to:
- Hold a citywide public hearing in the near-term to engage Portlanders on district criteria
- Hold at least two public hearings in each proposed district before voting to adopt a district plan
- Ensure district maps are consistent with charter, state and federal laws and criteria
Once finalized, 9 out of the 13 District Commissioners will need to vote for the districting plan to adopt it. If the District Commission cannot approve the plan after two rounds of voting, the plan will be passed to the City Council for their consideration and a vote.