We’re at an exciting point in Portland’s history. We have a chance to make some key changes to how our City government functions, helping us become a healthier, more representative democracy. And we have a chance to shape how the City will tackle key problems — from racial injustice to the climate crisis — for the next decade.

We can do all of this by telling City officials how we’d like them to update the City Charter. Right now, the City is updating the charter as part of a process they only do once every decade. So this is a key window of time when we get to use our collective power to influence the City around some really big decisions.

And we need the City to hear us, because the reality is: Portland’s system of government is deeply flawed. Our election system doesn’t promote a healthy democracy or fair representation. Our governance system is slow and inefficient. And the most marginalized members of our communities are often the ones left out of the conversation when the city makes decisions. We can set Portland on a better path, but only if we come together in huge numbers to call for the systems of government we all deserve.

We’ve already made huge strides in this campaign. 350PDX, our partners at Portland United for Change, and members of the public have already spent over a year working with the Charter Commission. Thanks to this work, Portlanders now have the chance to vote for Measure 26-228 and win a more effective, transparent government elected through what political scientists call “the most democratic” electoral system. Don’t forget to vote yes on Measure 26-228 on November 8th!

But our work doesn’t stop with this ballot measure.

The Charter Commission is turning their attention to climate and environmental justice through a new sub-committee. That means we can lay the groundwork for justice-based policies and climate action.

Some things we’re calling for:

  • Participatory budgeting (that would replace lengthy testimony sessions) and a public process for residents to directly allocate City funds to top priorities
  • Clear binding climate commitments that could shape future permitting decisions and streamline implementation for programs like the Climate Emergency Workplan
  • Removing outdated and regressive language from the Charter that currently ties our City’s hands around robust and responsive policy for energy efficiency, green spaces, and more

This is where you come in!

Until October 11th, the Charter Commission is taking public comments on the community’s priorities for climate and environmental justice. Join us in submitting comments to the Charter Commission as they begin to draft their Charter amendments on climate and environmental justice:

  1. Write a comment to the Charter Commission by Friday, October 7th, at 8 AM.

  2. Sign up to give a verbal comment at one of two Charter Commission meetings – Oct 3 AND Oct 11, at 6 PMCheck out this comment guide from our City/County Watchdog team!

  3. Join us at our Action Night on October 4 to learn more about Measure 26-228, the path to Election Day, and how you can help reach voters and pass this measure for a responsive and representative City government!

Portland’s historic issues of systemic racism, wealth inequity, and environmental injustice are baked into how our government functions – and into the City Charter itself. We need deep structural reforms to set us on a better path. Join us in calling for the key city charter reforms we deserve!

In gratitude,

Indi Namkoong, 350PDX Coalition Manager