Charlie Hales, Portland’s new Mayor

Congratulations to IMCL Board Member Charlie Hales who won a clear victory as Portland’s next Mayor! Charlie has a passion for livable and lively cities, and a profound belief in social and cultural equity.

As Mayor, he has vowed to ensure quality of life for all by working with neighborhoods to identify their needs. He believes strongly in equity, and will pay special attention to poorer neighborhoods at Portland’s outer edge – the areas not visited by tourists – that lack basic services, paved streets, employment options, and high quality education. Safer streets and good public transit are priorities for those areas. He will work to transform strip mall corridors (yes, there are some in Portland) into neighborhood cores with local businesses, shared workspaces, a Community Credit program, and business training.

As Charlie says, “We are a stronger city when all neighborhoods benefit from livability and a well-tailored boost.”

Charlie strongly believes that to be sustainable, Portland needs to be as socially and culturally equitable as it is economically thriving and environmentally healthy. Portland residents speak 70 different languages, and the number of foreign immigrants is rapidly increasing. Charlie believes diversity is an asset to be protected and leveraged, and that place-based economic initiatives driven by authentic local cultures will drive Portland’s economic future.

Portland is already a model for “active transportation” – walking, biking and public transit, but Charlie sees much room for improvement. Portland needs to improve safety and comfort for all by creating more Complete Streets and filling the gaps in the active transportation network. Charlie will also extend street design features such as advance bike boxes at intersections, 20 mph residential speed limits, and pedestrian/bicycle signal improvements.

A recent wave of new apartment projects without parking has provoked controversy in several Portland neighborhoods. “In our desire to support urban living and non-auto transportation, have we gone too far?” asks Charlie. These new mixed-use apartment buildings are all within 500 feet of public transit streetcar, and yet apparently, many of the new residents still own cars and park them in nearby single-family home neighborhood. Charlie will examine this issue, and work to find more finely-tuned policies and regulations while still encouraging a car-free lifestyle.

As Mayor, Charlie will support a healthy, equitable and prosperous local food system by championing three things: (1) access to healthy and affordable food for every Portlander, regardless of age, ethnicity or income level; (2) recognizing that our local food system is an economic driver and job creator for our City; and (3) taking a leadership role in a partnership for local food system transformation. He will eliminate food deserts, and facilitate community gardens, farmers markets, and initiatives such as farm-to-purchasing and shared equipment.

Charlie’s background has prepared him well to achieve these goals. After a degree in political theory from the University of Virginia in 1979, Charlie headed out to Portland, which has been his home ever since. He was elected to City Council in 1992, and twice more after that. While Commissioner, Charlie championed light rail expansion, streetcar development and safe bicycle routes; fought against gated compounds; and helped build or renovate 110 parks throughout the city.

His work has been honored by the Bruner Foundation for Urban Excellence, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Oregon Chapter of the American Planning Association, the League of Oregon Cities and the Portland Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

Portland has a record of success and innovation in building a livable city. We believe that Charlie has the potential to be a great mayor, who ensures that Portland becomes healthy and livable for each and every resident, in every neighborhood of the city.