Portland mayor Ted Wheeler will not seek third term

By Alex Zielinski (OPB)
Sept. 13, 2023 10:09 p.m. Updated: Sept. 13, 2023 11:47 p.m.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler will not be seeking a third term as mayor in 2024.

In a letter shared with the public Wednesday, Wheeler said that he’s more interested in overseeing the city’s transition to a new form of government than running a campaign.

Man standing at a podium gazes into the crowd

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler speaks at the opening ceremony for TriMet's new high-capacity FX line of buses. Sept. 17, 2022. Portland, Ore.

April Ehrlich / OPB

“Addressing our city’s critical challenges while, at the same time, fundamentally reshaping city government requires all of my attention over the next 15 months,” Wheeler wrote.

Portland voters approved a plan last year to change the city’s form of government. That new model, which will begin in 2025, gives the mayor more of an executive role and strips much of the office’s current legislative power. Under the new system, the mayor will no longer oversee city bureaus or vote on City Council — except to break a tie. The office will focus on overseeing the day-to-day operations of the city and working alongside a new city administrator, who will manage city bureaus.

Wheeler has previously expressed his disinterest in this new role.

The 61-year-old Wheeler first entered the mayor’s office in 2017 and was reelected in 2020. His tenure overlapped with a global pandemic, rising homelessness and more than 100 days of sustained racial justice protests. Wheeler did not say what his plans are for after his term ends on Dec. 31, 2024.


In his letter, Wheeler, who was born and raised in the city, wrote that serving as Portland’s mayor “has been both humbling and the greatest privilege” of his life.

“I am a firm believer in public service and know that when government is accountable and responsive to the needs of the community, it can be a force for good,” he wrote.

Prior to joining City Hall, Wheeler served as state treasurer and chair of the Multnomah County Commission.

Wheeler hasn’t hid his frustrations with his job over the years. He has blamed his dissatisfaction on the city’s unusual form of government and his dual responsibility serving as mayor and police commissioner. In 2018, Wheeler was overheard muttering that he “couldn’t wait” for his first term to be over at an event where he was heckled.

The race for Portland mayor in 2024 has yet to fully kick off. As of now, only City Commissioner Mingus Mapps and Portlander Durrell Kinsey Bey, who works at a youth leadership program, have announced their candidacies.

Wheeler said he believes several people have been waiting to learn whether or not he is running before announcing their candidacy.

Wheeler assured the public that today’s announcement won’t impact his current commitment to leading the city through a historic transition.

“I have great confidence in the steps we are taking to address the problems facing Portland today,” he wrote. “We will continue building on that progress to ensure Portland’s best years are ahead of us.”