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Wheeler rules out seeking third term as Portland mayor

The mayor's office doesn't have term limits, but the last mayor to serve more than two terms was Vera Katz, who left office at the end of 2004.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced Wednesday afternoon that he will not run for reelection next year, opting to end his time in the office after two terms. His current term runs through the end of 2024.

"Addressing our city’s critical challenges while, at the same, time, fundamentally re-shaping city government requires all of my attention over the next 15 months. As such, I will not be seeking another term as your Mayor," Wheeler wrote in an open letter addressed to Portlanders.

Wheeler said he will need to focus his efforts for the next 15 months on Portland's existing economic, homelessness and public safety challenges, as well as implementing the voter-approved overhaul of the city's government, which will switch Portland from the current commission system to a city manager model with an expanded city council starting in 2025. Next year's election will select the first mayor and city councilors to serve under the new model.

In his letter to Portlanders, he noted a several initiatives that began during his seven years as mayor: from the development of the Focused Intervention Team and the City's Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites, to the coordinated "90-Day Reset" strategy that first began in Old Town back in 2022.

"To be really clear, there was one office that showed up for this neighborhood very consistently and it was Ted Wheeler's office," said Jessie Burke, owner of the Society Hotel and chair of the Old Town Community Association.

Burke said parts of that 90-Day Reset plan really "moved the needle" for the neighborhood. 

"I just need people that are motivated to want to solve this," she said, of the homelessness crisis happening right outside her doors, "And we really felt that from Ted and his team. I need people really motivated to show up and learn the problems, and come up with creative solutions to fix it with us."

Wheeler spoke to the media on Thursday morning, outlining his plan for the next year-plus before taking questions from reporters. KGW live streamed the news conference. Watch it in the video below.

Two candidates have officially filed to run for mayor in 2024 so far: current city commissioner Mingus Mapps and Durell Kinsey Bey, who works as a Youth Essentials Coordinator for the nonprofit youth leadership organization REAP.

Wheeler wrote in his letter that there are "numerous qualified Portlanders" who intend to run for mayor, and said their decisions would be based in part on whether he chose to seek a third term, which is why he opted to publicly announce his decision not to run.

Related: Mingus Mapps talks police, homelessness and running for mayor under Portland's new system of government

Wheeler was first elected in 2016 and won a second term in 2020. Portland does not have term limits for the mayor's office, but the last mayor to serve three terms was Vera Katz, who left office at the end of 2004. In fact, Wheeler is the first mayor since Katz to even serve two terms — his predecessors Tom Potter, Sam Adams and Charlie Hales all served one term each.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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