By David Krogh
City Commissioner Amanda Fritz announced on April 5 that she would retire after her current term is up in 2020 and not run for re-election.
According to her retirement announcement, she almost didn’t run for re-election in 2016, but after her husband died in a car crash, she needed motivation and activities for her own recovery, and she also needed health insurance.
Commissioner Fritz told The Southeast Examiner she is not yet ready to reflect on her time in office or suggestions for Portland’s future. “I still have twenty months of service,” she said. She plans on being very busy during that time.
Her announcement listed several areas of accomplishment she was involved with including: establishment of the City Budget Office; the passing of the Fix Our Parks bond; establishment of the City’s recreational cannabis program and tax; and support for the Open and Accountable Elections Program.
She is continuing support of the Office of Equity and Human Rights and several other areas of participation during her remaining time in office.
Fritz is presently assigned the Office of Equity and Human Rights and the Portland Water Bureau and she has oversight of the Open and Accountable Elections program. She was recently in charge of Parks, but that has been reassigned to Commissioner Fish.
Commissioner Fritz has been involved in Bureau oversight controversies. In 2017, Mayor Wheeler took the problematic Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC-911 program) away from her, leaving her with only one bureau to oversee. This is something that apparently had never happened before.
More recently, Parks was reassigned from Fritz to Fish after Fritz let the previous Parks director go allegedly because of bureau management and budget issues, but yet included a substantial severance package.
Currently, the Commissioner has come out strongly against the Residential Infill Project (RIP), stating “The fact is we don’t need more capacity in Portland. Current zoning allows for 249,000 new units to be built, most of them multi-family. We added 39,000 in the updated Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2016, including 10,000 multifamily units in the Central City.
“RIP would lead to demolition of affordable single family homes, with evidence showing replacements will be more expensive than the house demolished.”
To date, Fritz is the only commissioner who has come out against RIP with citations from Comprehensive Plan data.
Regarding the City Club’s study encouraging a change to the commission form of government, the Commissioner has indicated she is strongly opposed to changing the form of government “where appointed officials and only one elected official holds bureaus accountable.”
Fritz is referring to only one of many ways that the commission form of governance could be replaced.
The City Club has suggested either a strong mayor/council form of government where the mayor would act like a city manager and the council would oversee budget and policy matters, or, a council/city manager form where the council hires (not appoints) a professional city manager to handle day to day administration while the council oversees policy and budget matters.
In neither case would bureau managers be appointed. They would all go through public hiring processes as is the norm in all other Oregon cities.