PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Ted Wheeler, who officially became Portland’s mayor on January 1, was publicly sworn in Wednesday morning at Jason Lee Elementary School.
Wheeler won the May primary election, garnering more than 50% of the vote from a crowded primary field. Incumbent Mayor Charlie Hales opted not to seek a second term.
Multiple speakers took the stage before Wheeler, including area faith leaders, a representative from the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde, a 5th grade teacher at Jason Lee Elementary School, and speakers from the Interfaith Alliance on Poverty and the Coalition for Justice & Police Reform.
Before taking the stage, Wheeler was given gifts, including running shirts from the school and a necklace made by members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.
Students took turns issuing different parts of the oath of office in front of Wheeler.
Wheeler said he chose to have the inauguration ceremony at Jason Lee Elementary School to show unity with communities in East Portland. He spoke a great deal about the importance of East Portland and a sense of city-wide unity.
“We are one community,” he said.
While speaking about East Portland, Wheeler said some talk about the area as if it has a negative connotation. He told those present at the inauguration that East Portland is just as important as the rest of the city.
“East Portland is something we should be proud of,” Wheeler said, passionately.
During his speech, a couple demonstrators, including professional protester Sara Long, took the stage before being quickly escorted off by police. Their chants were mostly inaudible due to not having a microphone. As soon as they were out of the room, Wheeler continued to speak without missing a beat.
The new mayor also had a message for students that were present. He said that while politics may seem boring, adult issues are important. The mayor impressed upon students the importance of city leadership and tackling local issues including everything from potholes to budgets.
He also touched upon several issues like police reform, the homeless crisis and affordable housing, which he said he knows are all important.
In closing, Wheeler repeated 3 times, “Talk is cheap.” He continued, “Action is what matters. I know you’ll hold me accountable. That’s what I want. It’s what I expect.”
Watch the ceremony below.