Portland Charter Commission creates committees to begin research

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Portland’s Charter Commission took a step toward tackling topics members campaigned on by creating committees Aug. 11 to address issues including the role of the mayor and city manager, and the structure of the City Council.

The five committees are governance, education and school budget, elections and campaign finance, procedures, and departments.

Michael Kebede

Commission Chair Michael Kebede said these committees will be responsible for gathering information and educating the rest of the commission. They will also hold workshops as needed.

There is likely to be some overlap between the committee assignments, Kebede said, but initially they include:

• Governance: the role of the manager and mayor, potential redistricting and the structure of the City Council, the relationship between city staff and elected officials, the relationship between the School Board and City Council.

• Education and school budget: the relationship between the School Board and council, pre-K, and after-school care.

• Elections and campaign finance: clean elections, citizen initiatives, term limits for elected officials, universal resident voting, ranked-choice voting.

• Procedures: compensation for elected officials, term limits, conflict-of-interest disclosure.

• Departments: creation of a labor department, housing, and police oversight.

There was discussion of a committee aimed at diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, but commissioners ultimately decided those were topics all four committees would likely consider.

Kebede said he expects the committees to start meeting before the next full commission meeting on Aug. 25.

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