Ending some idle speculation in political circles, Mayor-elect Charlie Hales today announced the first major hire of his administration—asking former state lawmaker Gail Shibley to run his office as chief of staff. Or, as Hales tells me, as his "emissary and alternate."

  • Shibley
Shibley—who was the first out lesbian to serve in the Oregon Legislature, back in the early and mid-1990s—comes to city hall after nine years at the Oregon Health Authority. She's also worked for the US Department of Labor and the Federal Highway Administration, and, important for Hales' "basic services" agenda, the Portland Bureau of Transportation.

Hales says that mix of experience will serve Shibley well when it comes to haunting Salem in hopes of finding more money for schools, bullying bureau directors as needed, scrutinizing the city's budget, and carrying his message to diverse groups like the Portland Business Alliance as well as the Community Alliance of Tenants. He also hopes her most recent post will help her work with the police bureau and the feds to implement federal police and mental health reforms.

"There's a lot of work to do there," he says. "Her understanding of public health and mental health will equip her to be very credible on that work."

But Shibley's first task, Hales says, will be filling out a staff leaner than the one Mayor Sam Adams' has employed.

Aisling Coughlan of super-consulting firm Winning Mark, has been helping Hales with his transition. Sources say Winning Mark, even before the election, had been compiling a list of potential staffers inside and outside city hall for the three city candidates Wiener counted as clients: Hales, Steve Novick, and Mary Nolan.

"We have more staff positions than this to fill," Hales says, "and none of them is filled yet."

Shibley, who lost a city council race to Jim Francesconi in 1996, called the job "quite an honor."

"I share Charlie’s priorities and passion and I’m ready and excited to help Charlie hire a quality team and get to work," she says.