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New Portland Mayor Outlines Goals At First Council Meeting

A string quartet welcomed Portland’s new mayor to office, after he marched in with the Royal Rosarians. Mayor Charlie Hales recited the oath of office under the direction of City Auditor Lavonne Griffin-Valade.

Charlie Hales speaks at first Portland City Council meeting of 2013.

Charlie Hales speaks at first Portland City Council meeting of 2013.

Rob Manning/OPB

Mayor Hales’ 16-minute speech quickly covered acknowledgements ranging from luminaries like former Mayor Vera Katz to his new staff and campaign volunteers. But his remarks focused on what he called the city’s three key challenges.

“They’re simple to list and they’re hard to reach: how we spend your money, how we keep everyone safe and trust our police bureau to do so, and the commitment that we make to our children’s future. Those three will be the heart of our efforts in the opening months of my administration.”

Hales’ budget plans start with a request that bureau directors cut their budgets by ten percent. Hales intends to control all the city bureaus during the three-month budget process, starting in February.

With public safety, Hales embraced a recent civil rights settlement with the federal Department of Justice.

Community activists, like former state senator, Avel Gordly are applauding Hales’ commitment to those revisions.

“You heard the mayor say it himself that we should not be doing this just because the Department of Justice is telling us to make these fundamental changes, we’re doing it because it’s the right and just thing to do,” Gordly said.

Education is not an area where the mayor has direct control, as he does with the police and city budget. But Portland Public Schools’ board member, Bobbie Regan is grateful for Hales’ promised advocacy.

“You know I had my fingers crossed the whole time he was talking, because I know he’s really committed to education but I was hoping it would hit the ‘top three,’ so I’m very happy about that.”

Hales plans to use his bully pulpit to get lawmakers to end what he calls “the permanent emergency” around public schools. In comments after his speech, Hales said education wasn’t the only issue he’d press lawmakers on. He says he wants action on controlling gun violence, too.

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