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City's first elected African-American woman says 'this is where it starts.'

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Shortly before her swearing-in on Wednesday, Hardesty had a 'Here I am' moment.Longtime Portland activist Jo Ann Hardesty was sworn in to the Portland City Council Wednesday morning, becoming the first African-American woman to be part of the council in the history of the city.

"I'm feeling good," she told the Portland Tribune. "This is where it starts."

Hardesty garnered nearly two-thirds of the vote in November against former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith.

Hardesty was sworn in inside City Council chambers by Justice Adrienne Nelson, the first African-American to serve on the Oregon Supreme Court.



As the Portland City Council meeting started at 9:30 a.m., Mayor Ted Wheeler greeted Hardesty and noted that not only was her presence a first for the city, so was the fact that women constitute a majority on the council. Wheeler called Hardesty a "tireless leader, effective advocate and someone who cares deeply about everyone in our community," as members of the audience applauded.

Five minutes later, Hardesty got her first taste of sitting behind the council dias during what has become a common occurrence. That's when Wheeler called his first council meeting recess of the year due to a member of the audience who spoke out of turn.

Hardesty, a frequent critic of police and who is considered one of the more progressive or liberal of the city's sitting commissioners, replaces Dan Saltzman, the long-time commissioner who was considered moderate and more aligned with police as well as business.

Two other African-American men — Dick Bogle and Charles Jordan — have been elected to the City Council.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Longtime Portland activist Jo Ann Hardesty was sworn in to the Portland City Council on Wednesday morning, making her the first African-American person to hold the post. She was sworn in by Oregon's first African-American Supreme Court Justice, Adrienne Nelson.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A version of this story failed to mention that two African-American men had served on the City Council prior to Commissioner Hardesty. She is the first African-American woman to serve on the council.

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