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Ted Wheeler Announces He’s Running for Mayor of Portland

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


State Treasurer Ted Wheeler

At a press conference held this morning at a Southeast Portland high school, State Treasurer Ted Wheeler offcially announced his campaign for Mayor of Portland.

Read his speech below:

I’d like to thank my family and friends who have joined me here today. I feel the energy coming from all of you and it gets me even more excited about the journey ahead.

I brought you all together here today to reveal the most poorly kept secret in Oregon politics.

I’m here to announce my candidacy for Mayor of Portland. 

I’m running for Mayor because I don’t believe we can be a progressive city unless we’re making real progress for the people who need our help the most.  

We have a stark choice: 

Do we want more promises on helping the homeless get transitional housing and the help they need? Or do we want progress?

Do we want another press release on closing the income gap? Or do we want progress?

Do we want endless pledges on fixing roads and making City Hall function? Or do we want progress?

Do we want another election–year proposal on affordable housing or do we want real progress?

Do we want to hear another politician say “Please give me more time” or do we want to make real progress now?

We have nothing short of a crisis on the streets of our city. The homeless are not getting the housing or the help they need. Housing is a problem for the middle class, too. It is increasingly unaffordable for working families. Wage earning Portlanders are falling farther behind. Our streets are crumbling beneath our feet. Even basic things like filling potholes, repairing roads and making our sidewalks safer aren’t getting done the way we expect them to get done.

I’m running for Mayor because I know we can do better.

I know this will be a fight. I’m ready to fight. But my fight isn’t with Charlie Hales. My fight is with the problems that he’s failed to address.

It’s not enough to call yourself a progressive, or an activist, or a leader when so many of the basic things that make a community thriving and successful aren’t getting done.

You can’t claim to be a progressive if you’re not making progress on helping the homeless get off the streets, into transitional housing with the mental health care or intervention they need to stay off the streets.

You can’t wear the mantle of activism when you have not taken action on creating economic opportunities for the entire city.

And you can’t say you are accountable as a leader when too much of the city’s business is being conducted behind closed doors, in secret, accessible only to the well-connected and highly paid corporate lobbyists.

Real progress will be increasing the minimum wage and increasing economic opportunities for lower income and middle income Portlanders. 

Real progress will be making sure developers pay their fair share for the costs for roads, parks, schools, and other critical infrastructure as part of new development.

Real progress will be expanding affordable housing options so that fewer Portlanders will find themselves priced out and moved out.

And real progress will be making sure that every part of our community has a voice in our government– not just those that can afford to buy a seat at the table.

I’m believe progressive means progress – and I have a strong record of making progress a reality. 

As Multnomah County Chair, we showed that one of the most progressive things we could do was to spend tax dollars more responsibly so we could use the savings to protect services for the homeless, the elderly and those most vulnerable in our society. 

Under my leadership, the Treasury used smart debt management and vigorous financial oversight to save over $170 million during the last two years. These savings allow our state to advance our progressive goals of strengthening education, health care and environmental protection. 

I was able to show again and again that we can do more than just talk about progressive values – we put them into action in our government and in our communities, for those who were left out and left behind. And we made things better.

And folks, we can do it right here in Portland too. 

I believe we can rebuild our roads, improve street safety and finally do what’s seemed to defeat too many administrations - fill those potholes.

I believe we should stop talking about the services East Portland needs - and start delivering them. 

I believe we can work with our school districts and make our public schools great for every child.

I believe we can make housing more affordable, so that nurses, teachers, firefighters, men and women who are carpenters, plumbers and electricians can continue to live and prosper in Portland. 

And I know that one of the best things we can do in this great progressive city is to make sure our government – which should be the engine for so much progress – is conducting the people’s business in public, and spending every tax dollar wisely, responsibly, and where it will do the most good. I want to be very clear, when I am mayor, Portland City Hall will not be for sale.

We can lead. We can have action. And we will finally have the city government Portland deserves.

Taking care of those in need. Taking responsibility for protecting our environment. Taking action right now to close the gap between our wealthiest and poorest residents by providing economic opportunity for lower-income and middle-income families. Equal access to our government for every person. Understanding that every dollar we spend came from a taxpayer and we need show our respect for how hard that taxpayer worked to earn those dollars by spending them wisely. These are the authentic values of Portland. And these are my values. 

We’re here today for those who have heard the words of progress but haven’t felt that progress in their own lives or their own city. I’m ready to fight to make sure progressive includes progress – and I want every person in Portland to join me. Change won’t come from one person – it will take all of us. All the resources, the talents, the ideas of this great, diverse, energetic city. I’m asking for your help. Please visit my website TedWheeler.com, send me an email, volunteer, give your time, your passion, your insights into helping make this great progressive city even better. 

With your help – We’ll stop making empty promises. We’ll start making real progress. 

Thank you very much.


Related Slideshow: 7 Things the Mayor Could Do by Reorganizing City Hall

Here are some things a reshuffle might do for Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. 

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7. Shake up the Bureau Directors

While commissioners come and go, the directors are in charge of their bureaus in the long term. Bringing all the bureaus under his control during the budgeting process would force the directors to answer to the Mayor, if only for a short time. This move would send a strong message to the bureaucracy that the Mayor, in fact, is in charge. 

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6. Change the Staffing

In the past, some Mayors took over the bureaus and reshuffled their staff, most notably, the directors.  Mayor Tom Potter and others have used bureau reshuffles to oust directors and other staff. 

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5. Realign Bureaus with Commissioners' Interests

Each Commissioner has his or her own strengths and interests.  Amanda Fritz has always been passionate about neighborhoods, while Nick Fish is equally focused on housing. Giving the Office of Neighborhood Involvement back to Fritz and the Housing Bureau back to Fish might build political capital. 

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4. Reset Relationships

It would take significant negotiating with commissioners to execute a reshuffle smoothly. The Mayor would have an opportunity to rebuild alliances or work to align commissioners with his vision of a city council that functions more like a board of directors than a gang of mini-mayors.

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3. Take Over The Bureau of Transportation

Hales' boldest play would be to take the Bureau of Transportation for himself. While it lays the responsibility of the Portland Street Fee squarely on his shoulders, if he is successful, Hales could claim victory over an issue that has vexed him since he was on City Council more than a decade ago.

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2. Look Like A Strong Mayor

While most Portlanders don’t pay much attention to City Hall intrigue, if the Mayor appears to be cleaning house, it’s bound to earn points with some voters.

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1. Get into Position for Year Three

If the Mayor successfully pulls off a reshuffle, he could end up in a stronger political position. If he decides to run for re-election, the move would come just in time for this year’s critical window for political fundraising.  


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