value accountable, accessible government.
Portlanders want their government to be accessible,
accountable and willing to take a stand to protect the
community’s values and those qualities that make Portland
“vibrantly unique.” Community members advocate for increased
transparency in government as well as increased diversity
in City Hall. Portlanders value thoughtful, proactive,
long-term city planning, seeing it an antidote to short-term,
election-oriented thinking. They believe a clear community
vision will help elected leaders make decisions that
advance the livability and long-term wellbeing of the
community as a whole.
Current opportunities for community involvement are
highly valued, with many Portlanders calling for even
higher levels of public participation in future decision-making.
These Portlanders want to be heard and to have actual
influence in shaping the course of city affairs. Portlanders
are divided over whether or not a change in the form
of city government might accomplish this. Some believe
the current form is already broadly accessible, while
others think the community’s interests would be better
served by a different model.
government can and should stand up for people’s values.
input is a hallmark of Portland’s local politics.
- Government actions should
enhance the well-being of current and future generations.
- Government can be more
transparent and more accountable.
- Portland needs greater
diversity in its government.
- Does the form of city
government need to change?
government can and should stand up for people’s
- Many Portlanders see their progressive values
reflected in the decisions and policies adopted
by their local government.
- They applaud local officials for embracing
positions on tough issues such as gay marriage
that may be politically risky but are seen
as “the right thing to do.”
- Some people specifically thanked local elected
officials for “standing up” to the White House
and federal government on issues related to
privacy, terrorism and climate change.
- Many Portlanders worry that local officials
have a harder time “standing up to” business
interests and developers, who are seen as
threatening Portland’s cherished livability.
- There are some calls for officials to take
a stronger stand to preserve Portland’s “uniqueness”
and “weirdness” so that the city does not
lose its special character.
appreciate our elected officials taking
risks to support gay marriage [and] stronger
sentences for those who initiate hate-crimes
(based on race as well as gender and sexual
value the progressive politics of city
officials willing to challenge the federal
administration on dealing with terrorism
and land use policies.”
do not want to drive or walk down the
street and feel that I could be anywhere
in America. Portland is vibrantly unique.
This vision is the force that should inspire
planning and laws of the community.”
- Some mention "voter
owned elections," or public financing
of elections, as a strategy to help elected
officials take a stronger stand for the community.
input is a hallmark of Portland’s local politics.
- Many Portlanders praise the local government
for its willingness to work collaboratively
with individuals and neighborhood groups.
- People speak of enjoying the opportunities
they have to get involved in government through
volunteer committees and commissions.
- Many people speak of valuing opportunities
to provide public testimony. However, some
wonder if elected officials simply listen
or actually incorporate public feedback into
their decision-making processes.
- Many express the desire to be heard and
to have their perspectives considered when
the time comes to make a decision.
value the collaborative nature of problem-solving
that seems constantly to be taking place,
and the fact that citizens are invited,
indeed, welcomed into these processes.”
continue to actively solicit input from
citizens who live here and please take
seriously concerns and ideas that we may
have regarding our neighborhoods and growth.
Please really ‘walk the walk’ and let
us all work together in co-creating the
greatest city on this planet…It would
break my heard if we are being encouraged
to get involved and then the future of
this city is directed only by those who
have a financial interest.”
- Provide childcare at public events
so more people can participate.
- Follow through with civic engagement processes
ideas the public has shared with
- Report back to let people know how their
feedback was used.
actions should enhance the well-being of current
and future generations.
- Local government received much praise for
“forward-thinking” actions and policies that
improve the quality of life for future generations
(such as setting aside land for parks and
creating public spaces like Pioneer Courthouse
- Portlanders want their elected officials
to make decisions with future generations,
not the next elections, in mind.
- A number of people are concerned that local
leaders seem to have lost some of the long-term
focus in their decision-making (see Government:
less time on elections and more on 'The
City that Works.'”
2030] local government is focused on excellence
in their core functions and efficiently
implementing the long term vision for
2030] the people can vote in a mayor who
shares their vision rather than selecting
a group of commissioners who override
the mayor and never seem to reach consensus
or have a group vision.”
can be more transparent and more accountable.
- Portlanders want a local government that
is transparent in its decision-making processes
as well as its spending and finances.
- Even those who are willing to pay higher
taxes want to know how their money is being
spent and how spending decisions are made.
- Some Portlanders currently feel that decisions,
especially around development spending, are
being “made behind closed doors.”
- There are a number of comments throughout
this chapter regarding a perceived lack of
transparency and accountability at the Portland
would like to see] more open government
and better information about what the
government is doing.”
2030] the city and local government make
all their actions/decisions in a the open,
not in private closed-door meetings.”
- Create (or better publicize) a
methodology that explains how decisions
(budget decisions, development decisions)
- Create a collegial
environment that encourages honest
and cordial discussion so that debates and
decisions can take place in the open.
needs greater diversity in its government.
- There were a number of calls for more diversity
in City Hall, including greater ethnic diversity,
gender diversity and cultural diversity.
- People would like to see diverse individuals
serving as mayor, city commissioner and holding
other high-ranking positions in local government.
- People are particularly interested in seeing
more ethnic and gender diversity in City Hall,
but some also called for more diverse political
viewpoints (for instance, a commissioner who
better represents the business community).
2030] Leadership in the city (private
and public) is ethnically diverse, demonstrating
that the city has done a better job alleviating
poverty and opening doors of opportunity
- The City should invest in programs
and projects that develop leadership skills
within minority communities.
the form of city government need to change?
Many Portlanders wonder if changes to the form of city
government might make government even more responsive
and accountable. Among those who advocate changes, some
would like to decentralize
government by giving more power to neighborhoods
to make a wide range of decisions. Advocates of this
strategy believe that the closer the government is to
the people, the more responsive and accountable it will
Others would prefer to see political
power concentrated in the Office of the Mayor.
Advocates for this approach believe that a “strong
mayor” would be better able to implement the people’s
vision than a mayor who must share power with four
other officials. Many of these Portlanders believe
that the current form of government results in unnecessary
inefficiency and in-fighting, which distracts government
from serving the people and reduces the impact of
Finally, a large number of Portlanders value
the current form of city government. These
Portlanders feel that they are well-represented and
that their voices are taken into consideration by
their elected officials. While some do suggest electing
commissioners from specific neighborhoods, the majority
in this group do not see the need to change the form
of city government.