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Portland City Council holds first in-person meeting in two years

After two years being virtual, Portland City Council meetings have returned to being in-person — but it's a hybrid model, so people can still participate online.

PORTLAND, Ore. — After two years, Portland City Council is back to in-person meetings. It's still a hybrid model, meaning people can participate online if they don't feel comfortable going to the meeting.

Bruce Barnes attended the meeting on Wednesday and wanted to give a public comment about the homeless crisis. 

"I want to be here so I can look the elected officials in the eye — they are the ones working for me, they work for us," Barnes said.

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Commissioner Mingus Mapps has been on the council for 16 months without an in-person meeting, and said he's ready for the interaction. He said this is a sign the city is recovering from the pandemic.

"I'm excited to see all of my colleagues in one place for the first time, that's a rare thing to happen," Mapps said. "I look forward to inviting the public back to City Hall."

When it comes to the future, there's still a lot of unanswered questions. Mapps said he thinks they will keep some elements of the hybrid public meetings. He said a lot of city employees are still working from home.

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"Some employees in my office come in everyday, some come in a couple of days a week ... I believe that pattern holds true all across the city depending on the type of work that you're doing," Mapps said. 

Wednesday's in-person council meeting is Commissioner Carmen Rubio's first as well.

"I think relationship is so key and having that connection and looking people in the eye that are speaking to you are important pieces of being accessible," Rubio said.

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