PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One of the leading advocates to reform Portland’s City Charter is against several aspects of the proposal the commission is sending to voters, but is working to make sure the issue makes the ballot should the proposal be thrown out in court.
Portland Commissioner Mingus Mapps detailed the pieces he supports, is thinking over and outright opposes in an email to supporters last week.
Mapps said he supports expanding the city council and creating city council districts, as opposed to city-wide elections. He also supports a city manager overseeing daily city operations, rather than elected representatives overseeing bureaus as is the case currently.
Mapps said he could be convinced with multi-member districts or ranked-choice voting separately, but opposes the current combination proposed by the commission’s ballot initiative that is under review. He thinks single-member districts provide more “neighborhood representation.”
Above all, he opposes voters being asked all of this in one question.
“I think what Oregonians really deserve is the opportunity to vote on each of these ideas on their own merits,” Mapps said in an interview with KOIN 6.
That perspective is shared by Portland Business Alliance CEO Andrew Hoan, who filed a lawsuit against the Portland Elections Office and city auditor over the issue, arguing the question violates the single-issue requirement in Oregon law.
Proponents have argued that reforming the city’s charter is one issue and the pieces need to be voted on as one together to work properly.
Despite agreeing with the premise of the lawsuit, Mapps is hedging bets from the commission’s proposal, should it succeed, by having the city council refer each of the issues in three or four separate questions on the ballot if a judge finds the proposal violates the constitution.
“I recognize that it deserves a vote and right now, in August, I’m doing everything I can to make sure that these ideas at least get a fair hearing by the people of Portland,” Mapps said.
Mapps says he doesn’t know what each question will look like and what issue each will cover.
For his four other commissioners, Mapps says, “that’s broadly where I think members of council want to go.”
Mapps has another plan if the proposal makes it through court, according to the email he sent to supporters.
He is one of the leaders of the Ulysses PAC organized around educating voters about the charter issue, though Mapps said in October the PAC will release its own “draft alternate proposal” ahead of the election.
Mapps said he is “not actively campaigning against the Charter Review Commission” by releasing an alternate plan and would put the plan on the 2023 ballot, should this year’s effort fail. Mapps also said he’s not sure what the draft alternative will look like at this point.
“I think there is consensus on council that we have to change our charter. I don’t know if there is a clear consensus on what all of those changes look like,” he said.