Portland, Ore. – Here are Mayor Ted Wheeler’s remarks:
“For democracy to work for all of us, every voice must be heard, and every vote must be counted.
Despite sometimes extreme adversity, people across the country turned out in record numbers to make their voices heard and to honor our democratic tradition.
I am grateful to every Portlander who turned in a ballot. Thank you for helping make critical decisions about our shared future.
And thank you for the opportunity to continue serving as your Mayor.
This election added to the uncertainty, anxiety, and fear all of us are feeling in the face of a pandemic and the resulting recession, hard and necessary conversations about racial justice and police reform, and ideologically driven opportunists spreading violence on our streets.
The future is unknown, but the past provides confidence in our Constitution and our electoral process. The United States has held elections and peaceful transitions of power for centuries, even during times of crisis – the Civil War, the Great Depression, and two World Wars. Election officials carefully prepare for election day for four years. They will ensure every vote is counted, and that we honor voters’ will.
As final votes in the presidential race are counted, I am increasingly hopeful that our federal delegation’s next job will be to ensure a peaceful transition of power in the White House. And in January and beyond, that they will work collaboratively to undo the harm of these last four years and restore federal leadership on housing, climate, and public health.
And we have a lot of work to do locally. I am committed to supporting smooth transitions so that your new City Council is ready to hit the ground running in January. And I know Commissioners Ryan, Rubio, Hardesty, and Mapps will help make sure our work continues.
The people of Portland are powerful. We are united by a deep conviction in shared values.
Black Lives Matter. The urgent need to restore a safe climate. Safe and affordable housing as a right. Economic opportunity for all. Preschool and a great education for very child.
The fact that these values require more work is a demonstration of the fact that our social safety net is frayed. But it can be mended. We can be part of the solution.
We can refocus our police and transform our public safety system—with community input—to address the root causes of crime with prevention, education and support services. And, we will implement the will of voters by creating a new, more powerful, more independent and better resourced police accountability system to ensure everyone in Portland feels safer than they do today.
And, we will reckon with tough questions: If our values are what our lawn signs say, why are our central neighborhoods predominantly white? Why are BIPOC Portlanders not thriving? Why aren’t our social networks more diverse? Why does race continue to be a predictor of health care, wealth, and educational outcomes? Why are we so resistant to basic zoning changes that open our neighborhoods to Portland’s growing population of people of color?
The last four years have shown what we can achieve together. I’m proud of our response to the pandemic. And I’m proud of the progress we’ve made on housing, homelessness, economic opportunity and climate change.
But there is more to do.
As I look to 2021, I am filled with gratitude, and with hope. This is not a perfect place, and we have many historical inequities to repair, but this is a very special place.
I know we will continue to rise to the challenge of the pandemic, doing what is necessary to keep ourselves and each other safe. And we will be intentional with this opportunity to build back better and do right by future generations of Portlanders.
Here are core priorities your Council adopted this year, and that will guide us through the changes ahead:
Portlanders turned out in record numbers to uphold the power of our democracy. The Portland I love, and the Portland I believe in, is full of people who care for each other, care for the planet, and are excited and ready to do their part so everyone is safe, everyone has access to opportunity, and everyone can thrive.
It’s been an honor to serve as your mayor. To those who voted for me, thank you. To those who didn’t, I respect your choice and commit to doing my best to serve all of Portland, to listening to you, and to helping us come together to create a better future.