Gonzalez Abandons Attempt to Change Reform Measure After Frosty Reception This Week

His one supporter on the City Council deserted Gonzalez this morning. He backtracked soon after.

City Commissioner Rene Gonzalez is no longer pursuing two controversial changes to the voter-approved charter reforms that 58% of Portland voters approved last November.

“After conferring with my colleagues, it has become clear there is a lack of support within City Hall for the referral measures addressing adjustments to the size of council and the ranked-choice voting method,” Gonzalez said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

Gonzalez planned to bring two proposals to a vote at next week’s City Council meeting: shrink the size of the future City Council from 12 to eight members, and adopt a different form of ranked-choice voting than was included in the November measure. Either that received a majority vote would have been placed on the November 2023 ballot.

But Gonzalez’s proposals—crafted in conjunction with Commissioner Dan Ryan’s office—were panned by colleagues, city staff and selected testifiers at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Just this morning, Ryan told WW he had pulled his proposal to give the mayor veto powers from next week’s City Council vote, which had been the third of the commissioners’ proposed tweaks. Ryan says he aims to place that referral on the May 2024 ballot—and said he did not plan to vote for Gonzalez’s two proposals. (Ryan began to pull back from the package of proposals just days after they first became public last week.)

Mere hours later, Gonzalez pulled his two referrals from next week’s agenda. But the freshman commissioner stands by his desire for public discussion.

“City commissioners have a responsibility to reassess from time to time prior decisions that have long-term effects,” Gonzalez said. “My hope was to reduce cost and streamline its implementation. I look forward to continued dialogue with my colleagues, and public engagement on the question of a mayoral veto this coming spring.”

Wheeler appeared miffed by Gonzalez’s proposals at the City Council meeting held to discuss the changes, as did a number of others, who criticized Gonzalez’s attempt to significantly alter the changes voters so recently approved.

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