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Wheeler calls on Portlanders to hold him accountable
Oath of office taken at public inauguration at Jason Lee Elementary School in East Portland on Wednesday morning.
Mayor Ted Wheeler said he will work hard to solve Portland's problems but challenged residents to hold him accountable for his promises during his public inaugural Wednesday morning.
"Talk is cheap. Action is what matters. I know you will hold me accountable and that's what I want," Wheeler said at the standing-room-only ceremony held in the auditorium of Jason Lee Elementary School in East Portland.
Wheeler said he intentionally chose the school for the ceremony to highlight both the challenges and accomplishments of East Portland.
"You know what they say about East Portland. The stories always say it is struggling. But there are other chapters. It is an example of a thriving and diverse community," Wheeler told the crowd that included hundreds of students from different racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds.
Wheeler also said he chose the school because children are the future, even if they think politics is something boring that adults do.
The oath of office was administered in sections by rotating groups of students and included promises that Wheeler, who was state treasurer until the end of last year, does not own a business in Portland or have a contract with the city.
"I'm now officially, unequivocally the mayor of Portland," Wheeler said after completing it.
As he was preparing to speak, Wheeler was briefly interrupted by two protesters who rushed forward chanting, "Stop the sweeps, people are dying on the streets," an apparent reference to sweeps of homeless camps. Wheeler did not mention them after they were quickly escorted outside by police. Nor did he refer to several other people in the crowd that held signs calling for a rent freeze during his talk. But he listed homelessness and housing affordability among the challenges he intends to address.
"I want to change the slogan on the side of city vehicles from "the city that works" to "The city that works for all of us," wheeler said to applause.
Before he spoke, several community leaders delivered short remarks referring to Wheeler a visionary leader and calling on him to help Portland achieve its potential as a national model of progress and tolerance. They included Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Tribal Council Secretary Jon George, Albina Ministerial Alliance President Rev. Dr. T. Allen Bethel, Interfaith Alliance of Poverty Co-chair Carol Turner, and AMA Coalition for Justice & Police Reform Chair Rev. Dr. LeRoy Haynes.