Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty’s first three months in City Hall have been definitively successful. In February, Hardesty called on the city to sever its relationship with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), a group accused of unfairly targeting people of color. Three out of five city commissioners agreed with her. Weeks later, Hardesty revised a city ordinance regarding Portland’s earthquake-unsafe buildings, responding to financial concerns from low-income property owners. Again, three commissioners backed the decision.

Hardesty championed these policies with a certain determination and bluntness rarely seen in city council chambers. It’s a style that’s drawn quick critique—and head scratching—from longtime city hall denizens. According to one city staffer, Hardesty’s approach has made Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office certain that she’ll run for mayor in 2020.

Some of these reactions have been painfully public: Earlier this month, Mayor Ted Wheeler scolded Hardesty during a city council meeting after she posed several critical questions to a landlord who had specifically been invited to answer city council’s questions.

Other critiques are less overt, but more direct. The most recent example has been the behind-the-scenes negotiations over a draft ordinance meant to clarify the city’s new relationship with the JTTF. Another city hall staffer, who asked to remain anonymous, says the process has underscored Hardesty’s resistance to collaboration with her fellow commissioners, including the mayor.

“This council is made up of five strong, smart people with shared core values,” the staffer says. “But the differences between them is what’s most exciting and what allows them to make good policy. When those differences are divisive, you lose seeing the value in others’ points of view.”

Tim Crail, chief of staff for Commissioner Amanda Fritz, says Hardesty’s early successes might have emboldened her to cut corners by only pursuing the support of two other commissioners before introducing a new policy—not the entire council.

“That’s not how city hall works best. You need to hear all the commissioners’ voices and do everything you can to accommodate concerns that others raise,” says Crail. “Sometimes you can’t, and you pass policies with three or four votes. But you certainly try to get to five.”

Hardesty’s governing style might feel unconventional for those familiar with city hall’s mechanics. But none of this should come as a surprise—Hardesty is doing exactly what 165,220 voters elected her to do: shake up the status quo.

Hardesty, a longtime activist and former state legislator, campaigned on the promise to represent the underrepresented in city hall—a forum that adheres to rules made by middle-class white people—as the first Black woman on city council. It’s no wonder she’s forging her own path to navigate that arena. Coming across as obedient to those within City Hall’s walls is mostly likely the last item on her to-do list. Instead, Hardesty is giving space to the underrepresented voices in council chambers by hosting public forums and meeting with groups who’ve historically distrusted the city’s government.

In city meetings, Hardesty doesn’t dance around uncomfortable topics, she plows straight into them—sending those content with “Portland polite” politics running for cover (where they can passively Tweet about it). In city budget meetings, she’s pressed bureau directors to explain how proposed budget items won’t unintentionally harm minority groups.

If there’s one thing Hardesty and her City Hall critics align on, it’s the genuine drive to create good public policies. But the future of Portland might lie in areas where they differ.