Measure on the Portland government to appear as is on the ballot

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Multnomah County judge has ruled that a sweeping proposal to change the form of government and electoral system in Portland, Ore., should pass the November ballot, dismissing a legal challenge from a commercial organization of the city.

The Portland Business Alliance filed a lawsuit in July, claiming the proposal approved by the city’s Charter Commission violated the Oregon Constitution’s requirement that ballot measures only address a single subject, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Circuit Judge Stephen Bushong disagreed in his ruling on Monday, saying a unifying principle – reforming the structure and functioning of city government – ​​logically connects all of the provisions of the measure.

Politicians, business leaders and civic activists have called for reshaping Portland’s form of government, which they say is hampering the city’s ability to respond to the challenges it faces.

Some of that broad consensus dissipated after the 20-member commission, appointed by the city council and designed to prioritize the views of racial and ethnic minorities, finalized its reform package in June.

The reforms, if passed, would increase the number of city council members to 12 — three from each of the four newly created districts — implement preferential voting and hire a professional city administrator.

The mayor and the municipal auditor would still be elected by universal suffrage.

Proponents of the proposal, including most commission members and a coalition of social justice organizations, said it would distribute power more equitably and provide better representation to communities that historically had no headquarters at City Hall.

Proponents insisted on bundling the series of changes into a single measure, arguing that each was entirely dependent on the others to succeed.

Critics include some who had previously championed the need to reform the form of municipal government. Mayor Ted Wheeler, Commissioner Mingus Mapps – who launched a political committee last year to support charter changes but plans to fight the current measure – and the Portland Business Alliance, are among that group.

Despite their disparate complaints, most critics took issue with the all-or-nothing approach.

“Many voters might prefer to vote on the three major reforms — establishing a city administrator management structure, expanding the city council with one councilor selected per district, and adopting ranked-choice voting procedures — separately,” Bushong wrote. in his opinion. “But the charter commission chose to submit these reforms in one package. All the provisions of this reform package are properly linked to the unifying principle of reforming the structure and functioning of municipal government. »

Portland is the only major city in the nation in which city council members each control a subset of the city’s offices and departments, rather than having a strong mayor or city manager running the show. Portland’s system of government was established in 1917, when the city had less than a third of its current population.

The mayor and four commissioners are currently each seeking office citywide and can live anywhere in the city, which has historically favored wealthier or politically connected candidates from mostly affluent neighborhoods.

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