Do you think Portland should have a city manager? Should city commissioners be elected by districts? Does the Portland City Council need more members? Should the City Council be primarily a legislative body (and not also an administrative one)?
League members and the public are invited to share their thoughts with the Portland City Charter Review Commission. The commission has decided to focus their initial research on two topics. These may result in ballot measures in the November 2022 election, if they identify the need for change:
the city’s form of government;
the election methods used for selecting city councilors.
After the Portland League restudied our city government in 2017-19, we adopted our current 2020 LWVPDX position. This position features the two topics the commission selected (as well as several other topics). Here is an excerpt from our position:
“The highest priorities for change are to improve citizen representation by increasing the number of commissioners, to institute a city manager, and to establish the city council as a legislative or policy-setting body. We also support electing some or all city councilors by district.”
Transparency is important too
The issue of transparency in city government is also of concern to the League; we offered testimony about it to the Commission in June, and will follow up this topic next year when the Commission returns to study the issue.
How to share your ideas
The Commission accepts written public comment from Portlanders at any time, not only at meetings. Now is the time to share your support for changes in these two important areas! We encourage you to submit a public comment about why these two topics are important to you. If you are a League member, please remember that when you do so, you are testifying as a private individual and not as a representative of LWVPDX. If you agree with the League’s positions, you may quote LWVPDX statements in your testimony as a private individual. Of course you also may offer your own ideas or ideas from other organizations. (Learn more about League testimony guidelines here.)
Three steps to speaking out at this important moment:
Read some background about the Commission’s two subcommittees on Form of Government and City Council Elections.
Protests have always played an important role in drawing attention to the need to change our laws and attitudes. Battles for civil rights and voting rights went on for years, with many marches and demonstrations. Disrupting normal life with a demonstration can attract media attention that helps the movement.
On the other hand, violence between protesters and the police or the destruction of property may turn attention away from the protesters’ real message.
Real change comes with legislative action and citizen engagement. Oregonians have powerful tools to enact change through voting and contacting our elected leaders.
How the LWV can help
The League of Women Voters is dedicated to promoting public involvement in politics. To that end, we are working hard to provide solid nonpartisan information to voters for the coming General Election. You soon will be able to find plenty of unbiased election information about local candidates and measures on our November 3, 2020 General Election webpage. We also encourage people to let their representatives know what they want; we provide contact information for all the Multnomah County Elected Officials here.
Where We Stand on the Ballot Measures
In addition to providing balanced information, the League of Women Voters often speaks out on issues. Our Board of Directors has voted to endorse some of the local ballot measures. Although the League never supports nor opposes any candidate or political party, we do take positions on issues we have studied. Using our advocacy positions and what we have learned and are learning through balanced studies of violence prevention, justice and police accountability, we are endorsing the proposed City Charter Amendment to authorize a new police oversight board. We have paid to publish a statement in favor of this measure in the Multnomah County Voters’ Pamphlet. Read our statement about the charter amendment here. You can also see all our LWV of Portland measure endorsements here.
The Oregon Secretary of State has given the People Not Politicians Initiative Campaign more time to gather signatures. The League of Women Voters of Oregon is one of many statewide nonpartisan groups supporting this initiative. It would place redistricting reform on the November 3 General Election ballot. Please help do that.
If you haven’t yet signed the petition, please download, sign and mail it in by August 8. Let’s make sure voters can elect representatives who truly represent their communities’ interests. We need to end gerrymandering. Politicians should not be drawing election districts that benefit their parties. Read more about the issues and the proposal here.
In response to Secretary of State Bev Clarno’s decision, the campaign wrote:
“We are grateful the Secretary of State recognized the importance of the democratic process and the significant impacts of the pandemic on Oregonians’ ability to participate in this process,” said Norman Turrill, chair of People Not Politicians … “We will continue to collect signatures to ensure Oregon voters have a chance to bring the redistricting reform we need to end gerrymandering in Oregon once and for all.”
The “People Not Politicians” initiative would put an independent citizen commission in charge of redistricting in Oregon. That means that a balanced group of citizens – instead of partisan politicians – would design the maps of election districts. Passing this initiative would protect the rights of voters to elect representatives who truly speak for them. This is because it would prevent gerrymandering the districts. Gerrymandering separates groups of voters with similar values and interests, which decreases their voting power. This initiative also calls for the commission to hold ten public hearings to hear people’s comments about their plans.
Our NEWLY UPDATED directory of Elected Officials is an easy Guide
Do you have ideas or questions about voting or how your government is working for you? Here is a resource you can use. Just updated in January 2020, the League’s Directory of Elected Officials has information and ways to contact your government representatives. Everyone who represents you is included – from the President and US Congress, to City Councils, School Boards and Special District directors. If you contact them, they do pay attention! To download a copy, click here.