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Portland Measure 26-228 (Charter Reform): Yes

Here’s an uncontroversial opinion: Portland’s system of government is garbage.

First established in 1913, the city’s commission form of government requires council members to lead city bureaus as well as write policy—resulting in a clunky, compromised, and redundant system that makes inter-bureau collaboration weirdly political and needlessly complicated. Worse, it’s nonrepresentative of Portlanders, since the five commissioners (which include the mayor—I know, it’s weird) don’t represent specific geographic districts and are appointed through citywide elections. For the majority of Portland history, that means the folks on the ballot with the most money to campaign citywide end up in City Hall. 

Measure 26-228 would do away with that bureaucratic mess—and more.

Measure 26-288 is the end result of work done by a commission appointed by City Council in 2020 to review Portland’s charter—the city equivalent of a constitution. This process takes place every ten years, and requires months of research, interviews, and community engagement by its 20-person members. 

This year, the charter commission proposed a hefty and surprisingly controversial amendment to the Portland charter, all bundled up in Measure 26-228. The measure would change the form of government, create council districts, expand the size of city council, strip some of the mayor’s powers, and overhaul the way Portlanders elect representatives to city council. The change would considerably alter our current city government by adjusting what representation looks like in City Hall and undermining the ways outside lobbyists wield power through politicians. We think it’s a chance worth taking. 

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