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Portland mayor reassigns city bureaus

Mayor Ted Wheeler said the overhaul would help prepare the city for the transition to the new city manager form of government in 2025.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is shaking up the city's bureau assignments, placing different commissioners in charge of some of the city's biggest offices including housing and transportation.

The semi-regular shuffling of bureau leadership is one of the unique quirks of Portland's commission form of government, and it's about to become a thing of the past when the city completes the transition to the new city manager form of government that voters approved in November.

In a news release Tuesday, Wheeler said he chose the new bureau assignments to help prepare the city's government for the transition, which will conclude after the first mayor and expanded council are elected under the new system in November 2024.

Until then, the city will continue to use the current organizational system in which the mayor and four city commissioners each directly control multiple bureaus, and it's up to the mayor to decide who gets to be in charge of which offices.

Wheeler's latest round of assignments, first reported by Willamette Week, includes some notable shifts in leadership. The executive order took effect Sunday.

Wheeler said his goal was to arrange the bureaus into five main groups, each under one commissioner: Administration for Wheeler, Community and Economic Development for Commissioner Carmen Rubio, Public Works for Commissioner Mingus Mapps, Public Safety for Commissioner Rene Gonzalez and Culture and Livability for Commissioner Dan Ryan.

"Today marks an important step toward the creation of five service-focused city areas that will create the basis for how the future City Administrator will lead bureaus in 2025, overseen by the Mayor," Wheeler said in a statement.

Some of the bureaus that were assigned to former Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, such as Portland Fire & Rescue, will pass to Gonzalez, who defeated Hardesty in the November election. But another major former Hardesty office, the Portland Bureau of Transportation, will instead move over to Mapps — while the Bureau of Emergency Communications will switch from Mapps to Gonzalez. 

In another big shift, Wheeler will swap the Portland Housing Bureau with Portland Parks & Recreation, moving housing from Ryan to Rubio and parks from Rubio to Ryan. 

"I am happy and excited to welcome the Portland Bureau of Transportation into my infrastructure portfolio. I hold their leadership and staff in high esteem and look forward to working together to strengthen Portland’s transportation systems, which are a foundational part of a vibrant, livable, and sustainable city," Mapps said in a statement Tuesday. "I want to thank Director Cozzie and all the Bureau of Emergency Communications staff for their fantastic service to the city over the past two years. It has been a very challenging time, and BOEC has stepped up by implementing various solutions. Now staffing and call time trends are moving in the right direction, and I couldn’t be more proud of their work."

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