Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Portland elections results: Change is dead; Long live change!

In results nearly identical proportionately, a paltry 65,000-weak Portland electorate has decided that, no, it doesn't want a so-called "strong mayor" form of government and that, yes, it does want a new charter review commission to propose changes in the form of Portland's dated commissioner government.

In both cases the vote was a thumping three to one. Together the votes make for a double mandate of sorts. The message: Get back to the drawing boards and give us an acceptable, efficient and representative form of government.

My own hope is that any new proposal will get scrap of the present commission fiefdoms and give voters the chance to create a government that gives neighborhoods a formal, elected place at the city council table.

I'd like to think that the proposal offered in this election failed because neighborhoods were left out of the political equation, NOT because the present commission form is acceptable. The passage of the charter commission measure is proof that the 20 percent of registered voters who actually cast ballots are still dissatisfied with what we have.

For the reform job to be done right, a new charter revision commission must have solid neighborhood representation on it. The commission that came up with the "strong mayor" proposal was a masterpiece of Portland diversity with one glaring exception — neighborhoods, which were virtually excluded from the process.

Finally, a confession. In an earlier post I urged readers to consider not voting at all on the "strong mayor" revision. But when faced with voting yes, no, or not at all, I voted yes. I did so with no enthusiasm. My feeling was that a yes vote would at least get the ball moving. Better that than standing still with what we have.

Maybe, just maybe, Tuesday's results will have the same effect. Let's hope so.

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