Longtime Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman announced Tuesday that he won’t seek re-election next year.
Saltzman has served five terms on the City Council. In a statement, he said he has largely accomplished his goals working for Portland.
“I have enjoyed the myriad duties of City Commissioner,” he said on Facebook. “But with respect to things I am passionate about, the items on my ‘to do’ list largely have check marks next to them.”
After 25 years with the city, Saltzman said he would like to now focus on issues like child welfare, foster care and domestic violence.
In an interview with OPB, Saltzman said Portland’s unique form of government — where commissioners both legislate and directly oversee city services — has its challenges.
“Portlanders seem to like this form of government, I mean, they’ve rejected attempts to change it,” he said. “I’ve sort of had to come to accept it. I do think it has it’s problems though.”
Saltzman said, at times, he’s been frustrated when wanting to take on issues in other city departments that are technically the responsibility of other commissioners.
“There are areas one can’t go in because that’s in somebody else’s domain,” he said. “I try and violate it all the time because I don’t believe in the silo mentality. I feel we should all be pulling for the same direction. But it’s a reality I’ve come to deal with over 20 years and I have to accept it.”
Saltzman told his long-serving staff about his retirement Monday and apologized for the impact it would have on their careers.
“I’m committed to working with each one of them to find them a job, be sure they land in a good place,” he said.
Saltzman’s now open seat is likely to attract plenty of candidates.
Just hours after Saltzman’s announcement, Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith said she was running.
“Our next leaders need build a shared vision for Portland’s future that ensures it remains affordable for working people, stand up for progressive values, and provide every community a meaningful voice in City Hall,” Smith said in a statement announcing her candidacy.
Jo Ann Hardesty, a former Oregon state representative and the president of the local chapter of the NAACP, has told the Portland Mercury she is running for Saltzman’s seat — in part — on a platform of housing and police reform.
Saltzman said his reelection campaign had been going well. But he recently took time to reflect on his future.
“I’ve watched my friend [former Multnomah County Chair] Jeff Cogen have a stroke, my colleague Nick Fish be diagnosed with stomach cancer. Those things give you pause about how much time you have left and do you want to spend that time,” Saltzman said. “I don’t know how much time I have left, but I just didn’t feel like I wanted to spend five more years in City Hall.”