Portland City Commissioner Mingus Mapps has announced his plan to run for mayor in 2024.
In a press release sent Wednesday afternoon, Mapps said he’s running to address the city’s “unprecedented” challenges, including property crimes, homelessness and substance abuse issues.
“I am asking Portlanders to hold on to hope,” Mapps said. “Portland’s problems are solvable, but we must have the courage to admit when policies have failed and be willing to have the courage to change.” The former political science professor also updated his campaign website Wednesday.
Mapps first signaled his intent to run on Monday, when he submitted paperwork to participate in Portland’s Small Donor Elections program as a candidate for mayor. The program, which matches any donations raised by city candidates that only accept contributions under $350, is ordinarily the first step in a local candidate’s campaign cycle.
But 2024′s election cycle is bound to be anything but ordinary. November 2024′s general election will be the first held after Portlanders voted to significantly change its form of government and election system.
The changes to the city’s charter, passed last fall, expand the size of city council from four to 12 and remove the mayor from a seat on council. They also direct the city to create four geographic districts, which commissioners will be elected to represent. And the changes introduce ranked-choice voting for all city elections and do away with primary elections, which usually take place in the spring.
That means that Portland will just have one election, held on Nov. 5, 2024, where all candidates for city council, mayor and auditor will be on the ballot.
Mapps was the most vocal critic of the government and voting changes in 2022, enough that he actively campaigned against their passage and toyed with putting an alternative measure on the ballot. As the policies have come into focus this year, Mapps has remained skeptical of the voter-approved mandates to overhaul the city’s structure.
In an interview with OPB on Wednesday, Mapps expressed optimism about the coming change.
“I don’t know if the next form of government is going to be perfect, but our next mayor is going to be incredibly important,” Mapps said. “I do believe with vision and a constructive, collaborative style of leadership, we can build the next City Hall.”
Mapps said he wants to support and strengthen successful city programs, like Portland Street Response and the Portland Police Bureau’s traffic division, through the transition to a new form of government. But he’s eager to reevaluate programs in the near term — like the city’s partnership with Multnomah County to run the Joint Office of Homeless Services — that he believes are continuing to struggle.
Under the new election rules, council candidates cannot file to appear on the November ballot until June 5, 2024 — five months before election day. But candidates could begin applying to qualify for publicly-matched funds on June 1, 2023.
Mapps is the first candidate for any city office to take that step.
Mapps, who was elected to City Council in 2020, only has $2,800 in his campaign coffers after recent payments to a political consulting firm. The city must approve his application to the Small Donor Elections program before he’s able to begin collecting matching city funds.
It’s not yet clear who Mapps will be facing in the competition for mayor. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has said he hasn’t ruled out running for a third term in office. In an email to OPB, a spokesperson for Wheeler wrote, “Mayor Wheeler is focused on the top priorities facing the City of Portland today and will make an announcement closer to the election.”
Mapps said he has a “ton of respect” for Wheeler, but believes he’s better prepared to lead the city through a particularly polarized time.
“Certainly being mayor of Portland has to be one of the toughest jobs in Oregon,” Mapps said. “And one of the reasons why it’s so tough is that people care so much about this city. Portland’s real divide is not where we’re going, but how we get there, and I think that’s one of the aspects of my style of leadership which will serve the city well in the next mayoral term.”
Most incumbent commissioners have also hinted at a mayoral run. But Mapps is the first to make it official.
Mapps said he will hold listening sessions over the summer to collect input from voters.