Wheeler: Biden team has already reached out to talk key issues


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Days after the 2020 Election, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said the President-Elect’s team has already reached out to him to talk about some key issues. The mayor is optimistic about the change coming in the White House, and what that means for the Rose City.

For months, President Donald Trump has mocked Portland’s Democratic leaders, evening calling the mayor “a fool” for refusing the president’s offer to bring in the National Guard to deal with protest violence.

KOIN 6 News’ Lisa Balick spoke with Wheeler for a one-on-one conversation Monday. When asked about what the change in the White House will mean to Portland, Wheeler said he’s already had a meeting with the staff in the new administration.

“I’m already very impressed with the new administration’s efforts to reach out to us,” said Wheeler. “They were asking us what we need in our local community to address the housing and homeless crisis and as the mayor of this city, I felt like the perspectives of this community were listened to and were respected and folded into what the new administration will use.”

He also pointed to support for climate action. The mayor indicated it will be a relief to not have the threat of pulling federal funding from the city over disagreements.

When asked if the change in the White House will reduce the threat of federal officers engaging with protesters, Wheeler responded, “I don’t think you’re going to see the same type of heavy-handed, overbearing tactics that were used in Portland earlier this year.”

As for the Portland City Council, after a divisive 3-2 vote last week against cutting the police budget, we wanted to know what the mayor’s plan was for moving forward.

“We know we will have to make reductions in the police budget next year just based on our economic projections,” said Wheeler. “Let’s work together in the next 3-7 months to chart out a longer term, thoughtful strategy on how best to absorb those reductions without impacting public safety.”

The mayor maintained that he’s made no decisions on which commissioner will be in charge of which bureau and will talk with the council members first—that includes whether he will remain head of the Portland Police Bureau.

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