Dan Saltzman reflects on his 25 years in public service

Civic Affairs

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After 25 years in public service — first as Multnomah County commissioner then on city council — Dan Saltzman plans to retire.

Saltzman is an environmental engineer by trade with a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell and a Master’s from MIT. His political training came as a staff member in then Congressman Ron Wyden’s office and as county commissioner.

But for the past 20 years, he’s been Councilman Saltzman — helping shape Portland.

“I ran on issues on helping children and families, protecting the environment, reducing the cost of government,” Saltzman told KOIN 6 News. “I think I have a pretty good list of accomplishments.”

During his two decades on council, he faced some difficult votes, including the Portland Aerial Tram.

“The tram was really controversial,” he said. “People up in arms about the cost. I was two months away from re-election, but I voted for it.”

While some weren’t sure about the tram, Saltzman said he knew the city needed it.

“This really was part of our destiny if we are true about OHSU growing in the city rather than somewhere else like Hillsboro,” he said. “They needed to be connected to the South Waterfront in a way that didn’t involve shuttle buses.”

Another difficult vote? The Timbers.

“Sure we cut a deal,” Saltzman said. “We own Providence Park, but it didn’t involve urban renewal money that would be used. Two of my colleagues thought it was the devil in the details and voted against it.”

Because of that vote, the city gets a cut of every ticket at the packed games.

Most recently, the commissioner sided with Mayor Ted Wheeler to support an ordinance to try and stem protest violence — a decision he said was not controversial despite it failing.

Saltzman believes extremists have silenced the voices of others who are now afraid to come to city council meetings.

“People are rude, disruptive and that results in fewer people coming to give their point of view, afraid they will be shouted down, or even injured,” he said.

As he prepares for retirement, Saltzman had some parting words to share with the public.

“Be kind to one another.”

Commissioner Saltzman’s seat will be filled in January by newly-elected Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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