City Council Race 2024

Here's Who's Running for Portland City Council in 2024

As the city gears up for a new government structure and a 12-person council, candidates are in the thick of campaign season for a pivotal November election.

Meet Your Portland 2024 Mayoral Candidates

Here's who wants to be Portland's next mayor.

Dan Ryan Will Run for City Council in District 2

While his colleagues run for mayor, Ryan is aiming to continue serving as a city council member.

Meet the Portland City Council Candidates: District 3

These candidates are running in the district located mostly in inner Southeast Portland.

Former City Commissioner Steve Novick Eyes Return to City Hall

Novick is running to represent District 3, after a former stint on Portland City Council.

Meet the Portland City Council Candidates: District 1

These candidates are running in the district encompassing East Portland.

Dan Ryan Rules Out Running for Portland Mayor

The city commissioner will decide whether to run for a council district by late January, as speculation swirls over who might challenge Mingus Mapps in 2024 race.

Rene Gonzalez Holds Sizable Fundraising Lead in Portland Mayor’s Race

With the city's Small Donor Elections program facing a budget shortfall, campaigns may have to adjust their strategy ahead of a pivotal election.

Meet the Portland City Council Candidates: District 4

These candidates are running in the district composed of Portland's west side and some Southeast neighborhoods.

Carmen Rubio Enters 2024 Portland Mayor's Race

The city commissioner is the third person on council to launch a campaign for mayor under Portland's new form of government.

Meet the Portland City Council Candidates: District 2

These candidates are running in the district located in North and Northeast Portland.

Rene Gonzalez Announces Bid For Portland Mayor

Known for his conservative policies, Gonzalez is the second on council to announce a 2024 mayoral campaign.

Updated: July 1

Originally published: November 21, 2023

Under Portland's revised city charter, the mayor will serve in a largely administrative role, overseeing day-to-day operations alongside a city administrator. The mayor will be voted on by all city voters, while the council will be elected by district.

The charter change is a shift from the current form of government, which sees the mayor and four commissioners acting in legislative and administrative roles, overseeing the city's bureaus while also enacting policy.

Come 2025, elected city councilors will no longer oversee city bureaus, and the mayor won't vote with the city council, unless needed to break a tie. Portland's new mayor may still propose legislation for the council to vote on and will be instrumental in bringing forward annual budgets for council's approval.

Shei'Meka (BeUtee) As-Salaam

Shei'Meka (BeUtee) As-Salaam is a longtime educator in the private school and home school sector. A self-described "homeschooling 'single' mother" who previously volunteered with Portland's King Elementary School PTA, As-Salaam says her specialty lies in "education, cultivation and innovation" as she embarks on a journey of health, healing and wholeness.

As-Salaam has no prior government experience, and little is known about her policy priorities or vision of leadership for the city. She instead focuses on her background in education, including launching a private schooling center during the height of the Covid school closures.

More information to come.

Rene Gonzalez

Rene Gonzalez  campaign photo

Rene Gonzalez, who was elected to council in 2022, announced his bid for mayor in early December 2023.

Gonzalez is a business attorney and an ardent supporter of youth soccer.

Since taking office, he's won over a swath of conservative voters with a hard-line stance on homelessness and drug use, while alienating progressives who claim his policies have harmed vulnerable Portlanders.

Prior to Portland hiring administrators to oversee city service areas in the lead-up to the city's government transition, Gonzalez oversaw the city’s 911 system and Portland Fire & Rescue, which houses the Portland Street Response program.

Shortly after taking office, Gonzalez announced he would ban Portland Street Response workers from distributing tarps or tents to unhoused people, amid a historic winter freeze. The directive was disavowed by a majority of the program's employees. He’s also held back resources for the program, enacting a hiring freeze and failing to expand the program to 24-hour service, as promised.

During his tenure on council, he led the charge to ban public drug use, after the mayor backed off previous efforts to do so.

Gonzalez led the council in voting to amend city code, pending a change in state law that would allow the city to criminalize the use of drugs in public. 

Gonzalez has also been adamant about the need to reduce resources and “enablement” of those living on Portland’s streets with drug addiction. 

In his campaign announcement, Gonzalez touted the need to “stabilize the city,” “restore the city’s image,” and address the humanitarian crisis on Portland’s streets.

“I am running for Mayor to ensure the work we have begun on crime, homelessness, the drug crisis, and economic revitalization continue stronger than ever,” Gonzalez said.

The city commissioner claimed Portland is “experiencing loss of population and small business in ways that were unthinkable only a short time ago."

The latest population data from Portland State University indicates the city experienced a temporary, but notable dip in population between 2021 and 2022, but both Multnomah County and the city of Portland have gained residents since last year. Preliminary population estimates for 2023 show the city’s population increased by .34 percent, while the county saw a .56 percent increase over last year.

 

Durrell Kinsey Bey

Durrell Kinsey Bey  campaign photo

Durrell Kinsey Bey, 29, lives in Portland's Centennial Neighborhood with his wife and children. Kinsey Bey works with the David Douglas School District as a youth essentials coordinator for REAP- a multicultural youth leadership and development program.

He says he became interested in a political run in 2015, when he discovered the American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) Advocacy Foundation and started watching YouTube videos and learning about the importance of politics.

Kinsey Bey has no prior political experience. He briefly considered a campaign for a Congressional seat in Washington against incumbent Congressman Dan Newhouse, but says he ended his campaign before he filed for election, when he met his future wife in Portland. Since moving to the Rose City, Kinsey Bey said he's learned about the "good, bad and indifferent waves of its history." He said Portland's moral compass has been lost and insists radical change is needed to "take back the dignity of this city!"

"It isn't about the seat itself, it is about what can be done within the seat," Kinsey Bey said of his decision to run for mayor, rather than a city commissioner seat. The candidate emphasized the power of the mayor, but under Portland's new form of government, the mayor will only vote on City Council decisions when needed to break a tie. Instead, the next mayor's role will largely be administrative, working in tandem with a new city manager. 

Mingus Mapps

Mingus Mapps  taylor griggs

Mingus Mapps is a current city commissioner whose most notable bureau assignments included Portland's Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), the Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services. Mapps studied political science at Reed College, and has a Ph.D. from Cornell University.

In an interview with the Mercury, Mapps underscored the need to shore up funding for PBOT and demand more accountability and transparency from Multnomah County—which the city partners with on the Joint Office of Homeless Services.

He's maintained a largely centrist platform, noting the need to provide shelter to every unhoused Portlander, while also voting to support the city's prohibition on homeless tents and sleeping bags in public spaces during daytime hours. 

Michael O'Callaghan

Mike O'Callaghan

Michael O'Callaghan is an unhoused Portlander who's lived in a small wooden structure near the Ross Island Bridge for the last decade, a campaign aid tells the Mercury.

O'Callaghan describes himself as a "self-taught" attorney. Last year, he battled the county in court to have his name recorded as the owner of the tiny parcel of private land on Grand Avenue, where he's lived in a makeshift structure for years. The case was later dismissed.

On his campaign website and in email correspondence, O'Callaghan leans more on his life experience than his qualifications for mayor. He tells of his venture back to Oregon, where he married a woman after a stint living in Alaska.

"We had four children, bought a home, and, using no power tools, built a log cabin in the wilds," O'Callaghan writes. "We found perfectly good food in grocery store dumpsters, retrieved it, and with a bike and a trailer, started a free food program in our backyard."

O'Callaghan started a free bike checkout program in Anchorage, Alaska distributing what he estimates was about 100 bikes.

Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the program as a bike giveaway.

In a 2020 profile piece, the Anchorage Daily News described him as "one of Anchorage’s most colorful activists and political gadflies." He's spent the better part of the last 40 years finding ways to help those in poverty. Among his Portland successes: helping establish Right 2 Dream, a self-managed plot of small pods for the city's unhoused that was among the first independent village-style makeshift housing communities in Portland.

O'Callaghan isn't just an off-beat activist, he offers unconventional, but plausible ideas for getting Portland's unsheltered population into temporary shelter.

He wants to see the city allow homeowners to rent out their garages, and says the city should convert empty office spaces into temporary housing.

Other ideas he floats on his campaign site: cut down on traffic by requiring odd and even days for vehicle use, and an "unoccupied housing" fee, with $100 fines per bedroom, on all residential dwellings that stay empty for three months or more (unclear whether these would hold up to legal challenges).

"I’ve traveled to Hawaii, the lower 48, Mexico, Thailand, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland, England, over 36 countries in all, always looking for ideas and examples to better my community back home," O'Callaghan says. "During this time, I accomplished some major things, like starting the food program, distributing 2.5 million pounds of salmon, including 120,000 pounds shipped to Portland. We helped stop Beetle kill tree clear-cutting, stopped the addition of poison gas additives, and much more."

Liv Osthus

Liv Osthus

Liv Osthus might be the biggest outlier so far in the Portland mayor’s race. She filed election paperwork in late February. By late June, she amassed more than $19,500 in campaign donations.

Osthus, 49, lives in the Mount Tabor neighborhood with her 8-year-old daughter. 

She’s the only candidate to prioritize artists and the arts in the conversation about revitalizing downtown. 

Osthus is a bartender, writer, and dancer who performs under the name Viva Las Vegas. She’s worked downtown for more than 25 years.

“I am an artist. A writer, musician, stripper,” Osthus tells the Mercury. “I'm a single parent. I'm a preacher's daughter, steeped in social justice and community building from the womb on.”

Back in the ‘90s, Osthus recalls teaming up with a group of sex worker activists who fought a measure that “seriously imperiled sex workers' safety.”

“We won. I learned in that room how important it is for leaders to accord basic respect to citizens; for the most part, the council was dismissive of us and our efforts. It was gross,” she recalls. “Still, we won.”

Portland’s service industry and cultural attractions play a key role in the city’s character, but rarely do candidates from those sectors emerge in local politics. Osthus says the city needs to focus more on its creatives.

“I'm tired of seeing my artist friends and peers get pushed out of Portland,” Osthus says. “I'm aghast that this city doesn't put more value on arts and its artists. I believe art and artists can revive downtown, and I want to be sure that message is heard loud and clear throughout the city.”

This marks Osthus’s first run for office. 

She says she’s not a politician, and never will be, but contends “the city needs other voices and other leaders.” 

“I am adept at shining a light in darkness,” Osthus says. “My hope for Portland is that we can have a mayor who listens, connects, and inspires. Who reflects the best parts of our city, and projects that to the world.”

Marshall Runkel

An artistic rendering of Marshall Runkel mona superhero

Marshall Runkel might be the only city hall veteran running for the mayor's seat who's not currently on Portland City Council. Runkel's first stint at the city was answering phones in former City Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury's office in 1995. He went on to work on the campaign for Erik Sten and served as an assistant to Sten for eight years. Later, in 2016, Runkel helped get Chloe Eudaly elected, then was tapped as her chief of staff.

"In between stints working in Portland City Hall, I worked in the clean energy industry," Runkel says. "My pitch is that I have specific experience and skills in the city's biggest challenges, housing and homelessness, and our biggest opportunity, clean energy. The new governing system will enable the mayor to focus on implementation issues, which is an area where I excel and there is room for improvement at the City of Portland."

Runkel, 59, cites housing and homelessness as the city's most pressing issue. He also sees the social and environmental justice goals embedded in the Portland Clean Energy Fund as a priority, along with public safety, arts, entertainment, and sports, and "getting our mojo back."

That's not to say he's disillusioned with Portland's evolution or growing pains.

"In sports, people say you can't get too up after a win or too down after a loss. Unfortunately, that's not how public opinion works," Runkel says. "Portland believed its own hype when it was the darling of the national press and is dwelling on its shortcomings now that it is a pariah. At the same time, the core of Portland has remained remarkable. We are surrounded by lush rainforests, snow capped mountains, rivers full of life and beauty, and an incredible coast that is 100 percent accessible to the public thanks to previous political leaders. We have a world class symphony, a vibrant and fun independent music scene, way more than our fair share of smart readers and writers, the best food and some of the most talented chefs in the world, beer, coffee and on and on and on. We punch well above our weight class in many different and important categories, but we seem to be struggling to realize our potential. I'd like us to look in the mirror and instead of seeing all the things we don't like about ourselves, see how beautiful we are and how we can become who we want to be. 

"We have real problems, but we can't be satisfied with only solving them. We need to aim higher."

Carmen Rubio

Carmen Rubio   city of portland

Carmen Rubio currently serves on Portland City Council, after winning election in 2020. As Portland undergoes its government overhaul, Rubio is transitioning leadership of the city's housing bureau, development services, planning, and Prosper Portland, the city’s economic development agency.

In a campaign announcement, Rubio said Portland deserves a mayor “who will take us into our future without drama.”

“I made my decision with the full recognition of where we are as a city,” Rubio stated. “And we need a mayor who will take responsibility for the way forward. One with a track record of building bridges, focusing our city’s energy into a force for change, and getting results. Portlanders deserve a mayor who will take us into our future without drama – just hard, collaborative work, especially on community safety, homelessness and housing. That’s how I’ve led as a Commissioner, and how I will do so as Portland’s next mayor. This is our opportunity to do so much more.”

Since taking office in 2021, Rubio has championed climate policy and reformed the city’s housing and permitting processes to encourage more affordable housing production.

But shortly after being assigned to oversee the city’s Bureau of Development Services, she disappointed climate activists after not yanking permits for Zenith Energy. Zenith transports crude oil by pipeline, and most visibly, by rail throughout Portland. Rubio cited the city’s previous policy to halt expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure. 

Rubio’s most prominent work on the climate front rests in her oversight of the Portland Clean Energy Fund, which has raked in more money over the past year than city leaders initially planned for, or knew what to do with. Now, the fund is focused on planting more trees across the city, reducing carbon emissions, particularly from transportation, and helping spur energy efficiency projects.

Like just about everyone running for office in Portland this year, Rubio cites homelessness and housing among the city’s most pressing issues. Last summer, the commissioner was the lone “no” vote on a council decision to pass time, place, and manner restrictions on homeless camping, effectively banning unhoused residents from resting in public during daytime hours. At the time, Rubio said she opposed policy that penalized homelessness while the city lacked enough shelter beds.

In a campaign fundraising email, Rubio touted her ability to unite Portlanders to get policy passed, “especially when our communities are hurting.”

“As a City Commissioner, I’ve seen up close where bureaucracy holds us back from addressing the housing shortage, fighting the climate crisis, and setting the stage to revitalize downtown,” Rubio said in a campaign message and fundraising appeal. “I’ve brought people together and made decisive decisions to get us moving toward solutions.”

Rubio is one of four current city commissioners who's pushed back on a quick timeline for implementing charter reform measures. Last year, she voted with Commissioners Dan Ryan, Rene Gonzalez and Mingus Mapps to stall plans for transitioning oversight of city bureaus away from elected commissioners. The charter transition plan calls for hiring professional city administrators to start managing city operations, with elected council members acting in a purely legislative function. 

Keith Wilson

Keith Wilson is among the field of candidates not currently on Portland City Council who is vying to be the next mayor. 

Wilson, 60, says he grew up in Portland and now finds the city “unrecognizable.”

Keith Wilson

“I have seen my high school classmates and neighbors living on the streets,” Wilson tells the Mercury. “This must stop. I am motivated  to solve Portland’s problems because I deeply love our community.”

Wilson says his priority, if elected, will be ending unsheltered homelessness within his first year in office. The current mayor also aimed to end unsheltered homelessness, unsuccessfully. 

The mayoral candidate lives in Portland’s Alameda neighborhood with his wife and two children. After graduating Roosevelt High School, he studied business at Oregon State University, then earned a masters degree in business administration from the University of Portland, with an emphasis in transportation and technology.

He now runs a trucking company- Titan Freight Systems, which he says was able to “eliminate 94 percent of fossil fuels” in its Oregon operations, while adopting a fleet of electric trucks and modernizing in other ways to become an-award winning company recognized for its innovation.

“My skill set is in operations, process, and systems improvement,” Wilson says.

Aside from being a CEO, Wilson founded the nonprofit Shelter Portland and says he was the architect of the Multnomah County Homeless Court program. Currently, he serves on the board of Word is Bond, a nonprofit geared toward empowering young Black men. Wilson also serves on Oregon State University Business School’s Dean’s Council of Excellence Advisory Committee. 

Wilson previously ran for Portland City Council in 2020.

He’s now running again to lead the city under a brand new form of government that will see the next mayor in a largely administrative role.

“Portland’s new system of government requires more than just a career politician,” Wilson says. “The new city  government structure requires an innovative and experienced leader who is equipped with the  leadership and management skills to tackle Portland’s biggest challenges and deliver the quality service  that all Portland residents deserve.”