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Portland mayor hires former mayor to help advance agenda

January 29, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced Thursday that former Mayor Sam Adams will join his administration, an unusual departure from traditional City Hall hires.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reported earlier this month that the pair had been in talks about the former mayor serving under the current one.

Adams, 57, will serve as director of strategic innovations, where he will focus on the mayor’s second-term priorities of reducing homelessness and street camping, improving public safety, cleaning up garbage and graffiti, and tackling the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, according to an emailed statement from the mayor’s office. He will report to Deputy Chief of Staff Sonia Schmanski.

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Adams served one term as Portland mayor from 2009 to 2013.

“Sam’s knowledge of Portland City Hall and his track record of action and getting things done is much welcomed,” Wheeler, 58, said. “He’s innovative, smart and energetic.”

The mayor also chose Bobby Lee, a longtime economic development official in Seattle and Portland, to replace outgoing Chief of Staff Kristen Dennis. His hire ended speculation that Adams could assume the role he held during the tenure of former Mayor Vera Katz.