The new mayor of Portland will inherit a city renowned worldwide for its progressive approach to transportation and urban planning. It will be important for the next mayor to enter his term ready to address big projects like citywide water fluoridation and the Columbia River Crossing.
In today’s difficult financial times, the mayor’s role of stimulating the city’s economy is even more important. Traditionally, the mayor does whatever he or she can to support the growth of new businesses and jobs in the city. One way a mayor does this is by speaking to business leaders looking to potentially open operations in Portland, and lobbying them to come to the city.
The mayor can also allocate funds to assist existing businesses. For example, Mayor Sam Adams has formed contracts with companies such as GreenPrint, a company that focuses on reducing waste in paper printouts.
The mayor can also make an effort to offer incentives to other businesses. Companies such as Wieden+Kennedy, Portland General Electric, and Veris Industries benefit greatly from the variety of subsidies and tax incentives that our city offers.
Business incentives are often tied to other policies such as sustainability. The mayor’s leadership role includes proposing legislation that advertises or aids sustainability.
In his time in office, Adams promoted composting initiatives, reusable shopping bags, and bike lanes. It is the mayor’s job to lead discussions on these policies, especially as they pertain to local businesses.
Though the district superintendent and other specialists are the primary movers in education, the mayor’s leadership is imperative in pushing education-related agendas. For example, Adams is a key player in the Future Connect Scholarship program, which is a partnership between Portland Community College and the City of Portland that has provided 200 students with scholarships to PCC.
One area the mayor does have significant control over is public safety. The mayor has the power to appoint key leaders, as reflected by Adams’ decision to replace former police chief Rosie Sizer with current chief Mike Reese.
Transportation affects almost all Portland citizens and the mayor has direct influence in this area through his or her appointment of the transportation bureau director. The mayor’s leadership in transportation issues, coupled with his or her appointment choices, will be vital in determining the future of transportation in Portland.
Public health has been a topic of discussion in the city recently. Many citizens have reacted negatively to the city council’s unanimous decision to fluoridate Portland’s water supply. Faced with the earlier E. coli scare on the west side and the Portland water bureau’s plans to raise rates due to federal mandates on water treatment, the mayor will have to be a voice of reason to stem the negative tide toward our city’s water bureau.