Want to be the director of Portland’s transportation bureau? Here are the job requirements

PBOT Directors since 2005. (Photos and graphic: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The hunt for the next leader of the Portland Bureau of Transportation has begun in earnest.

As we shared back in January, former PBOT Director Chris Warner jumped ship for a job in Oregon Governor Tina Kotek’s office. Since then we’ve pondered what we think PBOT should look for in the next leader. But what does PBOT want? What qualifications will the director need to possess to even be in the running for this important position that oversees over 1,000 position and an annual budget of about $570 million?

Well, now we know because the job description was just posted last week.

The commissioner-in-charge of PBOT at the moment is Mingus Mapps. The new director will report directly to Commissioner Mapps, and Mapps will have hire/fire authority through 2024. Starting in 2025, Portland will have a new form of government, so the PBOT director will report to the new city manager position, “through a different organizational structure that has yet to be determined,” the job posting states.

Anyone hoping to score an interview must demonstrate that they can lead a bureau in a city that is, “committed to anti-racism, equity, transparency, communication, collaboration, and fiscal responsibility.” When it comes to PBOT specifically, here’s how the posting frames the position:

This is a critical and dynamic time for transportation and for the future of Portland. Through its scope, variety of services, and key role in regional relations and more, the transportation department plays an important part in ensuring a bright future for the City of Portland. The Director will be someone whose experience enables them to set a positive vision and manage to those outcomes, in order to create an effective transportation future for the City of Portland. The Director will successfully manage the Office of the Director and the bureau leadership team towards those outcomes.

The successful candidate must know how to evaluate data, navigate the battle against climate change, understand the need for strong “equity, diversity, and inclusion” principles, be good and helping people manage change, and so on.

The stakes are high, not just because of how important smart use of streets can be toward fomenting a Portland renaissance, but because we’ll be paying this new director between $162,000 and $260,000 a year to do it. Thankfully, we’ll have some of the best and brightest minds on the selection panel. In recent weeks I’ve heard PBOT ask members of their Bureau Pedestrian Advisory Committee and their Bicycle Advisory Committee to serve on the panel.

When can we expect to find out who the next director is? PBOT and Commissioner Mapps plan to do interviews the final two weeks of May or beginning of June. The finalist will meet with Mapps in early June and if they sign a contract we will likely hear the name around that time.

I encourage everyone who’s willing and worthy to apply! Good luck!

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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Pierrethecycliste
Pierrethecycliste
1 year ago

Let’s bring back Tom Miller. He’s a biker, skater, attorney and is currently working for Rene Gonzalez. He would be a true advocate for bike and transit and also has the ability to be a coalition builder, something PBOT desperately needs!

todd/boulanger
todd/boulanger
1 year ago

You read my mind…and on to peak bike #3!
[Assuming anyone wants to jump into the fire a second time…and the additional heavy lift of CRC2 / IBR.]

Atreus
Atreus
1 year ago

The fact that he is willing to work for Rene Gonzalez tells me that he has the wrong character for the job.

Pierrethecycliste
Pierrethecycliste
1 year ago
Reply to  Atreus

Let’s not get partisan on this. It’s time to bring people together not divide. I think Mr. Miller would be able to tread the difficult waters of balancing the needs of our city and moving it forward towards a greener future.
(PS BTW he’s a staunch Democrat).

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

For the record, Rene Gonzalez is a Democrat also, so Atreus isn’t really being partisan, political, yes.

One of the things I’m eagerly awaiting to see is whether the city council swings leftward with the new structure, as everyone, on both sides of the debate, seems to hope/fear. Am I the only person in Portland who thinks there will be more diversity of thought on the council, and that that will, yes, include people like Rene Gonzalez?

Gonzalez won with strong support from east Portland, after all.

maxD
maxD
1 year ago

I think the new structure opens the door to supporting very minority opinions. For some reason, people assume those minority opinions will be further left that what we have, but Oregon and Portland has a long tradition or far-right people. I will not be surprised to have some far-right voices on our new council

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
1 year ago

As someone who is unlikely to ever vote for a democrat and has always loathed the republican party with a fiery passion, describing Gonzalez as a democrat omits his exceedingly close ties to republicans and the obvious possibility that he is a “democrat in name only”.

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago

Gonzalez *says* he is a democrat.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Serenity

Hi Serenity, happy sun shining! I haven’t looked into it with Gonzalez, but party registration is public record, as are donations. All there for the snooping.

Of course, registration doesn’t say how you voted, but if he has been a registered Democrat for a long time, it’s pretty safe to assume he’s a Democrat. The alternative is that he has been plotting a stealth candidacy for years and years. Nope, I don’t buy that. He’s a smart, talented novice, pretty much a blank slate—with a good campaign manager.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
1 year ago

Gonzalez’s exceedingly close association with the republican party became a campaign issue as this partisan site illustrates: https://www.republicanrene.com/

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  pierre delecto

Thank you Pierre, that was interesting. What it boils down to for me is that he had a Republican campaign manager, and my hunch is that Gonzalez is not strongly partisan or even very political.

What I’ve seen in races is that if the local party organization is not supporting a challenger to the incumbent, the challenger is shut out from party resources, including campaign managers, pollsters and the whole orbit of campaign support.

You saw progressive challengers nationally accuse the DCCC of undermining primary challenges from the left. Remember, the DCCC was vocal about protecting their incumbents, I seem to remember that they even threatened not to work with consultants who supported challengers (as in «if you ever want to work in Democratic politics again … ») It’s called party discipline. 🙂

Gonzales bucked it and did what he had to do to win. BTW, I voted for Hardesty (from the comfort of Portland Heights, where I had the luxury of carefully weighing who had the most experience and best qualifications.) If I came home every day from a job cleaning houses/mowing lawns/setting vermin traps/cooking/repairing cars/roofing to a crime-ridden neighborhood I might have voted more viscerally for law and order.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago

Lisa, you are engaging in the same sort of personal back and forth BP claimed to be trying to eliminate from its comments section recently.

FWIW I see the current city council as firmly opposed to most progressive initiatives these days; and no matter how Rene Gonzales is classified he is not acting in most citizen’s best interests.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  FDUP

No at all, reread what I wrote last Tuesday. I never said that we were trying to eliminate dialogue. What gets tiresome is bickering which goes on for 30, 40, 60 comments in which two or three people so dominate that they shut down a thread.

https://bikeportland.org/2023/04/19/a-reminder-on-how-to-use-our-comments-section-373163

The exchange you are calling me out for was respectful and informative. A good model for comment section dialogue.

I also suggested that people who write almost exclusively one-, two-sentence comments (I personally think of them as “talking back to the TV” comments) put the effort into pulling their thoughts together into a more complete statement.

Part of this has to do with the amount of work involved in hand approving comments. It is much easier to approve one 6-sentence comment than six one-sentence comments.

Pierrethecycliste
Pierrethecycliste
1 year ago

Agreed! But there was a concerted effort during the Hardesty vs Gonzalez campaign to paint Gonzalez as a far right Republican. Sure he’s to the right of Hardesty but he is ANYTHING but far right.

You’re spot on about your analysis of the new charter. The charter commission members worked hard to move Portland to a structure that would allow more candidates and they are hopeful they will be far left.

Time will tell if the ideologues will come back out of the woodwork (Eudaly, Inarone, Hardesty, AJ Mccreary, Candace Avalos, etc) to assume majority control OR perhaps the charter commission’s strategy will BACKFIRE and we’ll get more pragmatic moderates like Gonzalez or gasp even an evil Republican????

Watts
Watts
1 year ago

Am I the only person in Portland who thinks there will be more diversity of thought on the council, and that that will, yes, include people like Rene Gonzalez?

I generally agree with this, especially given how fed up people are with crime and social disorder.

One thing that’s for certain is that the new system will bring more people with less experience. And there’s one thing I’m sure of — our difficult problems will be best tacked [tackled?] by a bunch of political neophytes (not that our current leadership is doing particularly well).

Jakob Bernardson
Jakob Bernardson
1 year ago

Sounds like the main qualification is virtue-signaling.

That could be difficult in a “…different organizational structure that has yet to be determined.”

Count me out.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 year ago

“Head Cheerleader for PBOT” – that’s how former director Vic Rhodes described the job, the guy before Sue Keil.

JG
JG
1 year ago

I nominate Jonathan Maus!

Ted Buehler
Ted Buehler
1 year ago

Jonathan — are you going to apply?

surly ogre
surly ogre
1 year ago

Totally unacceptable that there is not one mention of the word bicycle or bike in the job description. but they sure as hell got the word business in there… “The bureau plans, builds, manages and maintains an effective and safe transportation system that provides people and businesses access and mobility.”

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
1 year ago
Reply to  surly ogre

PBOT has been afraid to use the “b” word since the Adams bikelash. What’s fascinating is that anyone would be surprised by PBOT’s lack of interest in supporting cycling as a transportation mode. PBOT telegraphed their disdain for cycling when they retroactively tried to eliminate key goals of the 2030 bike plan and when they failed to brief their commissioner on the bike plan prior to her meeting with the BAC.

John
John
1 year ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Briefing the commissioner is the commissioner’s staff’s job. These requests nearly always come from the commissioner’s office, not from PBOT.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 year ago

Jamal Fox for PBOT director: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamalfox

Adam Pieniazek
1 year ago

Director Sam Balto has got a great ring to it!

Maria B
Maria B
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Pieniazek

Balto is a teacher and yet does not support Wheeler’s order to keep school routes clear of homeless encampments. Sorry, but that’s a non-starter for me.
Fortunately we have a NON-idelogue as head of PBOT now and Mr. Mapps gets to make the call. I’ll respect his decision.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  Maria B

With attitudes like this no one will even want the job which means we will just get another P-bot.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago

This is a either a political patronage position for some rising local pol or a springboard to a better paying position in a bigger city.

Randi J
Randi J
1 year ago
Reply to  FDUP

Wow, where’s your optimism for a “new beginning”? And $162,000-$260,000 seems like pretty good pay to me!