You suggest that no Portland mayor has resigned, but your research is lacking this time—Mayor Neil Goldschmidt resigned in 1979. One of the other commissioners was appointed as mayor. —Ken J.
In my recent column about who becomes mayor if the current mayor resigns, I suggested that no Portland mayor had ever quit the job. While I did include the weasel words "as far as [I] could determine," I grant that readers should expect a newspaper columnist to be more aware of major historical events.
In short, mea culpa. That said, try to put my error in perspective—it's not like some horrible tragedy had befallen President Kennedy.
In any case, Ken, you're correct. Mayor Goldschmidt resigned his post in 1979, not for the reason that springs to mind today, but to become secretary of transportation (only 14 heartbeats away from the presidency!) in the Jimmy Carter administration.
Under the rules in force at the time, the remaining four members of the Portland City Council could have replaced Goldschmidt with one of their own members—or, if they felt like it, some rando off the street—by a simple majority vote.
Unfortunately, they deadlocked, 2-2, and the office devolved to council president Connie McCready, who served as mayor for the remainder of Goldschmidt's term.
The rules are different today, but the council presidency is still around. It's not the kind of political office that people try to win, though—it just happens to you, like jury duty.
Every six months, the city rotates its chore wheel and whichever commissioner on the council is next in line has to take his or her turn as council president. (The previous president is now in charge of cleaning the restroom.)
I'm telling you all this because, in the mayor's absence, the authority to do mayor-type stuff—shutting down the city in a snowstorm, say—passes to the council president. (Currently, that's Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.)
The council president does not actually become mayor—it's not like the vice president of the U.S. being sworn in over the smoldering wreckage of Air Force One—but there is somebody at the wheel in a pinch. If my earlier column gave a different impression, Dr. Know regrets the error.