Director of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation Will Join Kotek Administration

After a New Year’s bureau shuffle by the mayor, the Transportation Bureau is now under its least progressive city commissioner in years.

Sunday Parkways Sunday Parkways in Southeast Portland, 2018. IMAGE: Greg Raisman/PBOT.

The current director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, Chris Warner, is taking a position with Gov. Kotek’s administration as the deputy chief of staff for public administration.

Warner has led the Transportation Bureau for the past six years under two of the most progressive City Council members in history: Chloe Eudaly and then Jo Ann Hardesty, who was defeated in November by new City Commissioner Rene Gonzalez.

Two weeks ago, Mayor Ted Wheeler shuffled city bureau oversight, assigning PBOT to Commissioner Mingus Mapps, who regularly clashed with Hardesty, PBOT’s former commissioner.

In an email to bureau staff Thursday morning, Mapps announced Warner’s departure, calling it “an unexpected transition,” but, he added, “I am thrilled that he will be joining Gov. Kotek’s team.”

Mapps is appointing PBOT deputy director Tara Wasiak as interim director while conducting a search.

PBOT is the city’s largest bureau, responsible for maintaining the city’s streets and traffic lights, installing bike lanes, and completing other infrastructure projects. Its 2023 operating budget is $570 million.

Warner’s departure from the city is just one of several in recent weeks.

Last week, WW reported that three of the city’s lobbyists are departing prior to the legislative session. Earlier this week, deputy chief administrative officer Carmen Merlo announced her departure. The city’s budget director, Jessica Kinard, left in December.

And Wednesday was the last day of top mayoral aide Sam Adams, who cited health problems for his abrupt exit.

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