Friday, 15 September 2023

Dem Portland mayor, blasted for failed handling of riots and homelessness crisis, announces he will not seek re-election

 Democratic Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced on Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in 2024, according to a letter posted to X, formerly known as Twitter.

Wheeler, who was elected in 2016, has received bipartisan blowback over the years for his handling of the violent and destructive summer 2020 riots, the city's rampant crime levels, and the ongoing homelessness crisis.

Conservatives torched Wheeler for allowing Antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters to take over the city during months-long riots. Meanwhile, those on the left blasted the mayor for allowing the Portland Police Bureau to use crowd control measures, including the deployment of tear gas, on violent rioters. Later that year, Wheeler banned the city's police officers from using tear gas despite pushback from the department.

The "defund the police" movement prompted Wheeler to significantly reduce the department's funding in 2020. However, after losing more than 200 officers by the end of the summer, Wheeler backpedaled in 2021 and announced a $5.2 million budget increase, aiming to hire additional officers.

"Many Portlanders no longer feel safe in their city," Wheeler said at the time. "Business owners have closed up shop, for fear of doing business in high risk areas. Commuters fear for their safety, whether taking public transport or going by foot. Parents are scared to let their children play outside."

Under Wheeler's leadership, Portland reached a record-breaking 101 homicides in 2022, shattering the previous year's record high of 92.

The mayor wrote on Wednesday, "Over the last seven years, my administration has re-shaped City government to effectively respond to an unprecedented number of simultaneous challenges related to homelessness, public safety, livability, and economic recovery."

"Building these efforts to scale and making them effective has been, and will continue to be, my top priority," he continued, referring to his administration's development of several city programs aimed at curbing gun violence, addressing homelessness, and improving the city's overall livability.

"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," Wheeler added. He called serving as Portland's mayor "both humbling and the greatest privilege of my life."

He stated that correcting the "critical challenges" facing Portland would require "all of my attention over the next 15 months," and therefore, he would not be seeking a third term as mayor.

"I want to be clear that I will not be slowing down in my current leadership role," Wheeler said. "I have great confidence in the steps we are taking to address the problems facing Portland today."

He noted that his administration would continue "building on that progress to ensure Portland's best years are ahead of us."

X users mockingly responded to Wheeler's announcement.

"What progress…" one user questioned.

"Thank you for stepping down. You've ruined the city enough," a second X user wrote.

"How many businesses have moved out of Portland, Ted?" another asked.

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