Two of Mayor Ted Wheeler’s Staffers Depart In May

Sonia Schmanski, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, and Jim Middaugh, his communications director, are out.

Two of Mayor Ted Wheeler’s senior staffers are leaving his office this month.

Sonia Schmanski, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, leaves today. She worked for Wheeler for just over a year after her former boss, the late City Commissioner Nick Fish, died early last year and the mayor took over Fish’s bureaus.

Jim Middaugh, the mayor’s communications director who took the job only eight months ago, departed on May 13.

“They have been valuable members of our leadership team and we are both sorry to lose them, and excited for the opportunities that await them outside of City Hall,” spokesperson Tim Becker said.

Their departures mean that many of Wheeler’s highest ranking aides arrived after his reelection in November. Both chief of staff Bobby Lee and strategic innovations director Sam Adams were hired in January.

Schmanski told WW in an email: “Every day working in City Hall is a privilege. I am so grateful to everyone who gave me an opportunity or took time to teach me during my years here, and to all of my newer colleagues who have chosen service in this moment—the people of Portland are in excellent hands.”

Middaugh joined Wheeler’s office in September of last year. He’s now the executive director at the Multnomah County Drainage District.

“I was recruited for a job that combines my love of natural resources, voters and government,” Middaugh tells WW. “I was surprised how hard it was to say goodbye to my colleagues in the Mayor’s office. They do really hard work under really hard circumstances. My new job is an incredible opportunity to remind people about why collective action on behalf of the common good matters. I think more people are reflecting on the essential role of government. I believe that’s a good thing.”