Tom Miller hired as transition team leader for Rene Gonzalez

Tom Miller in 2012. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A familiar name has taken a top job for incoming Portland City Commissioner Rene Gonzalez: Tom Miller.

A reporter who works for The Oregonian reported via Twitter today that Miller will be in charge of the Gonzalez transition team. Gonzalez won a seat on city council last week and will take over for ousted incumbent Jo Ann Hardesty on January 1st, 2023.

Miller entered local politics as chief of staff for Sam Adams, who served as a Portland city commissioner and mayor between 2005 and 2012. Adams chose Miller to be director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation in 2011 — a position he held for two years. Due to his close personal and professional connection to Adams, Miller’s rise in Portland power circles was cut short after his former boss was had an intimate relationship with an underrage intern and then lied about it when it was reported on in the local press in 2009.

Shortly after taking on the PBOT director role, Miller told me in an interview: “Your transportation director understands bike issues. I know bicycling’s place in the urban context and I understand that bicycling has arrived…  I believe separated facilities are the only way to get the concerned cyclist riding more.”

Miller initially rose to prominence at City Hall as the man behind an effort to build a network of skateboard parks throughout the city. As we reported in September, he still found a way to be involved with that cause as a member of Mayor Ted Wheeler’s staff.

In addition to riding skateboards, Miller is also a notable cycling advocate. Many people think that former Mayor Sam Adams’ political focus on cycling (his most memorable campaign video depicted him biking to work) was a result of Miller’s influence. A good example of that was how Miller was such a big booster of bike share. Adams was one of the early adopters of the idea in the United States and wanted Portland to become the first city to have a bike share system. In 2008 Miller wrote a six-part series about bike share for BikePortland.

Miller and Adams were reunited in the office of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler where both currently have top advisory roles — Miller as director of livability and Adams as director of strategic innovations. Wheeler instituted a ban on camping alongside dangerous roadways and on sidewalks near schools during their time on his staff.

During his campaign, Gonzalez used slogans like “restore Portland.” By choosing a veteran political insider like Miller, we are getting our first glimpse of what version of Portland he hopes to restore.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Dave
Dave
1 year ago

Will he influence Gonzales to act where it counts–directingthe PPB to more strongly contro the behavior of motorists?

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 year ago

Assistant City Manager Tom Miller.

Champs
Champs
1 year ago

Personal traits aside—let’s not pretend that a gambler with debt issues has none—it’s going to come down to performance. Maybe Rene Gonzalez isn’t the Frank Ivancie I thought he was.

Don’t screw it up, Gonzo.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago

I like Tom but wonder what his role on Gonzo’s team will mean for the city? He pushed skateboarding back in the day, maybe someone should challenge him to a skate race against a bike on the ZooBomb hill for this job????
😉

RipCityBassWorks
RipCityBassWorks
1 year ago

Restore Portland… To 2011 era? Huh?

I don’t care for Adams or Gonzalez at all, but honestly Miller seems like the best case scenario for this position. I was expecting someone hostile to pedestrians and cyclists.

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago

So was I, to be honest

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago

It’s almost like there has been some sort of disinformation campaign for the past few months, attempting to paint Gonzolez as a right-wing extremist. Try to reset your assumptions, and judge him on his actions moving forward. So far, it’s looking good.

jd
jd
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris I

Yeah, and after all the work Rene has put in after the election just maybe he can make Portland great again…

GetOverYourself
GetOverYourself
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris I

Check out rene’s endorsements (given and received) and his impressive political history (organizing a PAC to force masks out of schools during peak COVID) and tell me he’s not a up and coming baby fascist

Watts
Watts
1 year ago

Wanting masks out of schools is certainly medically wrong, but it’s not fascism. If anything, it’s anti-fascist, even if completely misguided.

Frank Perillo
Frank Perillo
1 year ago

Rene can’t fix everything but at least maybe it’s a start in moving out of the horrible Hardesty era.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago

Why would a Republican anti-bike proto-fascist hire someone like Miller to manage his transition? I’m confused because I doubt BikePortland commenters would have made false accusations against him. It’s probably a trick.

Dwk
Dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

I am also confused. We were told by numerous people here that Rene was basically MAGA …
Crickets now, wonder why?

GetOverYourself
GetOverYourself
1 year ago

Who he has chosen to work for (google Sam Adams and his history with minors) says everything you need to know

Watts
Watts
1 year ago

What does it say, exactly, other than he likes to work with bicycle-forward officials?

Why not make your accusation explicit so we can be clear on your insinuation? I suspect you won’t because you know it’s a pile of Trumpy HS*.

*Like BS, but from an equine

CamdenM
CamdenM
1 year ago

I believe separated facilities are the only way to get the concerned cyclist riding more.”
I hope this doesn’t manifest in keeping streets with destinations super car focused while pushing bikes to zigzagging greenways 2-8 blocks away from the street full of shops and restaurants
But we’ll just have to wait and see

Watts
Watts
1 year ago

Looking at Miller’s photo reminds me that at one time, the bike counter on the Hawthorne Bridge actually worked. Even something so simple has become an impossible dream, thanks to years of stalwart PBOT leadership.

Those were the days.