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East Portland activists want City Council elected by districts

Proposed ballot measure would also transfer bureaus to mayor

East Portland activists who wanted to secede from the city have reconsidered and now want to change form of government.

The activists gave up filing proposed petitions to secede after the City Attorney's Office declared some unconstitutional. So now the activists have filed a petition for a ballot measure that would create a nine-member council with seven members elected by districts, which they must live in. It would also transfer management of all city bureaus to the mayor.

The City Attorney's Office has ruled this petition passes legal muster and has issued a ballot titled. Any Portland voter has until Aug. 4 to challenge the wording in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

If no one challenges the language or a judge revises it, the activists can begin gather the signatures necessary to put it on the ballot. They must submit 31,345 valid Portland voter signatures by July 8, 2016, for it to appear on the Nov. 8, 2016, General Election ballot.

The activists are Collene Swenson, Elzy Edwards, and Heather Sirr. They have repeatedly said the council ignores the needs of East Portland, in part because none of the current commissioners live there.

The proposal is similar to a measure backed by former Mayor Tom Potter that was defeated at the May 2007 Primary Election. It did not create districts where council members must live, however.

More information is available at the Auditor's Office.