After graduating with honors from the University of Virginia in 1979, Charlie Hales drove to Portland and chose to call the city his home. He continued his education, receiving a master’s degree in public administration from Lewis & Clark College. During his 30 years in Portland, Hales became a prominent community leader.
After beginning his career as vice president of the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland, he eventually earned a seat on the Portland City Council in 1992. Hales distinguished himself with his vote against involvement in the Joint Terrorism Task Force and his initiatives for women and minorities in the fire bureau.
Working as Portland’s parks commissioner, Hales established himself as a protector of Portland’s green spaces. He spearheaded the first successful parks bond measure in 50 years and helped to build or renovate 110 parks across the city. Hales also pushed for the extension of light-rail lines to the airport and up Interstate Avenue to supplement revitalization plans for North Portland and perpetuate Portland’s culture of sustainability.
The creation of the streetcar has produced $3.5 billion in private investment to date. Hales’ passionate character helped him achieve his goals, but also led him to arguments with the police and fire bureau heads. Observers of Hales also criticized him for his absence during city council meetings. In 2001, Hales campaigned for the position of Port of Portland executive director and lost.
During his third term in office, Hales left his position to work in the private sector. After accumulating experience in planning the layout of Portland’s streetcar and city-wide bus systems, Hales worked for HDR Engineering in Portland. As senior vice president of the company, Hales oversaw plans for similar transportation systems in cities such as Atlanta, Sacramento, and Miami.
Since the last mayoral debate at Catlin, he has continued to receive criticism for living in Washington. Critics claim he moved to our neighboring state to evade higher Oregon taxes. Hales has maintained that he moved to be closer to his wife, Nancy.
Hales’ experiences as an influential urban planner and city politician helped shape Portland, making him a formidable mayoral candidate.