A Mayor for Portland!

Next year, Portland will have an elected mayor for the first time in eighty years. The Mayor will be granted limited political powers allowing him or her to lead and organize the City Council,  hire the City Manager, veto the municipal budget, and represent the city to the world beyond.

While the new Mayor will certainly face the serious logistical challenges of educating our children, maintaining services, and balancing the budget, the Mayor must also be expected to be kind of person who can bring Portland forward.

The “first” Mayor of Portland should be a person with the optimism to inspire pride and motivation within the city, the charisma to sell Portland’s image to vacationers and prospective businesses, and the dexterity to negotiate stronger regional agreements between the municipalities of Greater Portland.

The way in which the new Mayor performs his or her duties will set a precedent for how a mayor in Portland should act and what a mayor’s responsibilities will be for decades to come. The “first” elected mayor of Portland should look beyond written policy to provide an atmosphere of collaboration and consider these suggestions:

- Thank local organizations. Portland is a diverse city and will benefit from the continued diversity of services. The new Mayor should be prepared to work with, promote, and support local non-profits already providing civic services that the city does not have to supply.

- Enable local businesses. The movement to keep business local is strong, but survival for a small business in Portland is always precarious. The new Mayor must review city procedures to ensure that permitting and licensing processes are prompt and predictable for all business ventures.

- Support local farmers. The farmers’ markets in Portland have been very successful. The new Mayor will need to be part of a regional dialogue about land use to ensure that local food and natural resources are both available for years to come.

- Praise local artists. Portland will continue to be a vacation destination, and the presence of street art vendors, galleries, and an artistic culture create the kind of excitement that tourists expect. A strong relationship between the city and all artists will help Portland continue to be a tourist destination.

- Encourage local music venues and musicians. Portland is a hotbed for original music and musical performance, but has the venue infrastructure of a much larger city. The new Mayor should consider ways to create events or festivals that would bring new attention to Portland as a musical destination.

- Recognize Portland’s residents. Portland rests on the shoulders of its residents who choose to live here. A mayor for Portland must be a community organizer who will encourage neighborhood, community and city-wide events such as clean-up days, crime watch meetings, and neighborhood meet-and-greets.

The “first” elected Mayor of Portland must have the discipline to handle the daily challenges of running the city, but must also recognize that Portland is a city of willpower that continues to thrive because it is something to believe in.


  1. This is a remarkable and important post, Evan. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree with your suggestions wholeheartedly.

  2. Evan I like your attention to many levels/aspects of Portland.....I particularly like your ideas about thinking locally.... and encouraging arts and music.