City Halls set for a new style
- Portland Tribune - Opinion
It's not cruel, or even insulting, to say that one of the best decisions Tom Potter has made as Portland mayor was the one he announced Monday.
Potter's declaration that he would not run for re-election was a timely recognition that the city he deeply loves is in need of different leadership.
During his two and half years in office, Potter has done a commendable job of setting the right tone for Portland and its residents. He has walked the talk of citizen involvement, increased transparency within City Hall, embracing diversity and bolstering a greater sense of community.
Along the way, he helped stabilize funding for public schools and gave business owners the sense that the mayor's office was not their enemy.
Potter's greatest strength has been to help citizens feel empowered and to engage them in imagining a better Portland.
But at some point, any work to generate ideas and build consensus must produce timely outcomes of lasting importance - and that's why we think it is to Potter's credit to step aside and allow a fresh leader to carry the city forward.
This city's next mayor must not only be capable of providing inspired executive leadership, but have the ability to successfully implement and achieve goals that are of value to citizens, including enhanced livability, increased public safety, broadened sustainability initiatives, a strong regional economy, an improved transportation system and excellence in local education.
Who does Portland need next?
Portlanders now must begin to evaluate the leadership qualities of their next mayor.
Businessmen Bob Ball and Roy Jay already are considering the opportunity. The greatest speculation, though, swirls around city Commissioner Sam Adams, who seemingly has been preparing himself for several years to run for mayor.
Adams shares Potter's ability to bring people together. He is a hard worker, who has impressed us with his growing political maturity, as well as his ideas; his willingness to reach out to all areas of the city, region and state; and his ability to connect with citizens at the neighborhood level.
But for any candidate, being a successful mayor means much more than being popular or electable. Ultimately, each candidate must define his or her vision for Portland and convince voters that his or her leadership can take the city beyond its traditional penchant for citizen involvement and consensus-building and into sustained, outcome-oriented and timely actions.
Find right person for this time
In Portland, there is no 'model' for who a mayor should be or what his or her background should include. This is a city that bounced from electing a young, aggressive Neil Goldschmidt to establishment-minded Frank Ivancie, and then on to political outsider Bud Clark.
Voters then turned the opposite direction and elected the consummate political insider, Vera Katz, and eventually took a breather from Katz's style by choosing Potter.
This recent history is proof that voters aren't looking solely for credentials or an heir apparent - they are seeking the right person to lead Portland at a particular moment.
We believe that in a progressive city filled with creative minds and engaged citizenry, it is not too much to ask for more than inspiration and vision. Now is exactly the time for a new style of leadership that consistently leads and empowers others, but also effectively gets important things done that make a real difference in Portland.