Charter reform campaigns clashed Monday
Both sides in the contentious fight to change Portland's system of government sparred over Measure 26-228 on the Nov. 8 ballot on Monday.
Portland Commission Mingus Mapps unveiled his alternative measure at a late afternoon press conference on Oct. 3. Mapps' plan would change the city's charter to elect city councilor from seven geographic districts, limit the powers of the citywide elected mayor to vetoing legislation, and transfer all bureaus from the council members to a professional city manager. A second proposed ballot measure would allow the council candidates to be elected with ranked-choice voting with more than 50% of the vote.
Mapps' proposal contrasts against Measure 26-228. That measure was placed on the ballot by a 20-member Charter Commission and would create a 12-member council with three members elected in each of four geographic districts by a form of ranked-choice voting where it would only take 25% to win. The citywide mayor could not vote or veto legislation. All bureaus would be transferred to a professional city manager.
Mapps said he plans to ask the City Council to refer his measure to the May 2023 ballot if Measure 26-228 fails, adding the November ballot measure doesn't do enough to move Portland forward.
"Some of the provisions of the proposed charter revision are steps in the right direction, such as taking the council out of the business of running bureaus, appointing a city administrator to take on that responsibility and providing representation by district on the council," the Ulysses PAC created by Mapps said in a statement. "But other provisions will take the city down the wrong path to a more cumbersome leadership structure, more dysfunction and less accountability."
According to Ulysses PAC, Measure 26-228 will create a more complicated and less transparent system for conducting elections, set up a weaker mayor and a less functional, more factionalized and entrenched council. It said the proposed 12-member council would be too large and potentially expensive.
Supporters of Measure 26-288 held a press conference earlier Monday to highlight the coalition backing the measure. Speakers included a real estate business owner and representatives from the League of Women Voters of Portland, the NAACP Portland and the ACLU of Oregon.
"Mapps' proposal has no coalition supporting it. In stark contrast, Measure 26-228 is the result of thorough research and public engagement over 18 months and has the support of business leaders, political science experts and over 50 civic and neighborhood organizations," the campaign supporting Measure 26-228 said in a statement.
"After speaking for years about the urgency of changing our city's outdated form of government, Mapps now wants Portland to wait and endure our present dysfunction for longer. He created his alternative behind closed doors and released it at the 11th hour in an attempt to undermine the work of the city's own Charter Commission," the statement continued.
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who supports the measure, has called Mapps "arrogant" for offering an alternative before the election.
The committee supporting Measure 26-228, Portland United for Change, has reported raising nearly $321,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to date.
A committee formed to oppose the measure, Partnership for Common Sense Government, has reported raising just under $52,000 to date.
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