City Club of Portland Report finds The City Needs More Commissioners
- By Rebekah Markillie
- February 25, 2019
A new report from City Club of Portland argues that the city needs more commissioners
Since 1913, Portland has operated under a commissioner model of government and is the only major US city that still uses this model.
Under the commissioner model, voters elect city-wide commissioners rather than representatives for specific districts. This presents a problem in representation when most of the commissioners live on the west side but 80 percent of Portland’s population lives on the east side. And to add to that, only nine women and three people of color have served on the Portland City Council.
According to Willamette Week, “[these are] not a new or surprising [findings]: For decades, Portland mayors have blamed their failings on the commission form of government and the bickering it inspires, while newspapers have repeatedly observed that city-wide elections have resulted in just three African-Americans and nine women serving on City Council.”
To improve the functioning of Portland’s city government the report recommends increasing the number of commissioners to at least eight and to as many as 12. And create a “non-political city manager whose function is to effectively implement the policies and budgets approved by the city council.”
The report also argues that by increasing the number of commissioners, Portland can better represent diverse backgrounds and allow individual commissioners to “have more time to focus on constituent services and their policy and legislative functions.”