Council Candidates Express Concerns Over Office Remodel Staffing

Eleven council candidates are calling on City Hall to halt its planned remodel for city council offices due to staffing concerns.

Maja Viklands Harris Avatar

A group of council candidates have raised concerns about City Hall’s planned remodel for city council offices. In a letter to Mayor Ted Wheeler and city commissioners Rene Gonzalez, Mingus Mapps, Carmen Rubio, and Dan Ryan, the candidates specifically took issue with interim city administrator Michael Jordan’s statements that the remodel would accommodate only one staffer per council member.

“As candidates who have engaged extensively with Portland’s diverse communities and intricate policy landscape, we firmly believe that a single staff member per council member is grossly inadequate to effectively carry out the various duties required of the office,” the letter stated.

The candidates argued that the proposed staffing level would hinder effective governance, slow down responses to constituents, and reduce community engagement. They called for an immediate halt to the remodeling work and asked the council to reevaluate the plan based on a comparison of staffing levels in peer cities of similar size to Portland. The letter noted that such a review was reportedly already conducted by the city and urged City Hall to make the findings public.

The letter was signed by Deian Salazar from District 1; Mariah Hudson, Mike Marshall, and Bob Simril from District 2; Theo Saner from District 3; and Eli Arnold, Mitch Green, Stan Penkin, Michael Trimble, Andra Vltavín, and Bob Weinstein from District 4.

Advisory Committee Raises Similar Issues

In February of this year, the Government Transition Advisory Committee—an advisory body appointed to consult on the implementation of Portland’s reforms—voiced similar concerns about staffing levels.

“The staffing levels set […] do not adequately support future council in their legislative duties and role in community engagement,” the committee wrote in a communication to council members.

The document referenced the review of staffing levels in peer cities and concluded that Portland would have the lowest staffing level among them. The review of peer cities included cities such as Austin, Boston, and Denver, and reported that peer cities averaged two to four staffers per individual councilor.

At the time, the mayor and city commissioners replied that elected councilors in the new government could establish additional office space within their districts and identify or reprioritize more funds for staff support in 2025.

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