By David Krogh

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has announced his bid for re-election to a second term. If successful, he will be the first Portland Mayor to serve more than one term since Vera Katz served three terms: January 1993-January 2005. 

Prior to his election as Mayor, Wheeler served 2010-2016 as State Treasurer and 2007-2010 as Multnomah County Commission Chair.

During his tenure as Mayor, Wheeler’s primary focus has been to address several pressing issues including homelessness and affordable housing. 

Neither Wheeler nor his campaign responded directly to specific questions from The Southeast Examiner. However, both his office and campaign websites do provide information as to his record and issues. 

In addition, his campaign website includes a Message from Ted which lists many accomplishments and activities still underway with a focus on Portland’s problems and priorities. 

His list of accomplishments includes:

• Doubling Portland’s shelter capacity

• Assisting over 6,000 people into transitional housing

• Construction of over 800 units of affordable housing

• Initiating One Point of Contact platform for public reporting of problem campsites and garbage issues

• Promoting renewable energy for Portland

• Limiting single use plastics

• Partnering with businesses and nonprofits to address city cleanliness issues

• Addressing equity in City government by hiring capable women managers (e.g., Chief of Police and Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Director).

• Addressing internal police issues including de-escalation and bias training

• Creating a public safety specialist program for non-emergency calls

Mayor Wheeler: “One of my proudest moments as Mayor is the unity we have shown as a city in the face of hatred. 

“To hear the voices of Portland’s faith community, civil rights leaders, businesses and unions, our Timbers and Blazers all join together with a clear message of inclusion and support for targets of white supremacy is so gratifying and so important. This is the kind of strength we can show when we join together and stand up for our values.”

His posted information does not address issues of concern to many in SE Portland, including traffic congestion, parking, street maintenance and the upcoming city charter review. 

Wheeler did acknowledge in a separate interview with The Southeast Examiner last March that he was open to consider changing the commission form of governance depending on public input.

He has been a proponent and supporter of the Joint Office of Homeless Services (see “Homelessness in Portland Part II” in the January 2019 issue). 

This is a jointly funded Portland/Multnomah County office staffed by the County that administers grant money (local, state and federal) to agencies and private or nonprofit groups which provide homeless-related services. 

Their website at multco.us/joint-office-homeless-services,  lists a substantial number of supported programs and projects.

During this campaign, Mayor Wheeler’s office is sponsoring several community conversations to discuss issues of homelessness and livability. 

By the time of publication there will have been two such meetings held already. Two more are scheduled for March:

• North Portland – Tuesday, March 3, 6:30-8:30 pm at the University of Portland, Bauccio Commons

• SW Portland – Saturday, March 7, 9 am-12 pm at the Multnomah Arts Center Gymnasium 

For additional information on these events, go to portlandoregon.gov/wheeler/80228.

Mayor Wheeler has not been without his detractors. He has been criticized for his lack of action with police and protesters, especially during downtown protests in June 2019. 

He was recently the subject of a campaign finance complaint regarding the receipt of larger contributions than authorized (see “Campaign Fund Complaints Hit Council Candidates” in the February 2020 issue). 

However, according to the City Auditor’s Office, portions of the City’s campaign finance provisions have been determined to be unconstitutional by the Multnomah County Circuit Court.

The Wheeler campaign and his primary challenger’s, Sarah Iannarone, have had Twitter squabbles and the exchange is likely to heat up further before the May 19 primary.

Mayor Wheeler expresses his dedication in continuing to address the issues facing Portland at this time. 

“The work is not yet done, and I’m asking for your help in continuing to get us there. We’re strongest when we work together as one vibrant, powerful, engaged community. So I’m here, and I’m ready to keep going for these next four years.” 

For additional information see tedwheeler.com.

Photo by Mayor Wheeler’s office