Charles Jordan (politician)

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Charles Jordan
Charles Jordan 2012.jpg
Jordan in 2012
Portland City Commissioner
In office
Preceded byLloyd Anderson
Succeeded byDick Bogle
ConstituencyPortland, Oregon
Personal details
Born(1937-09-01)September 1, 1937
Longview, Texas
DiedApril 4, 2014(2014-04-04) (aged 76)
Portland, Oregon
OccupationCity Commissioner; municipal parks director (Austin, TX, and later Portland, OR)
Known forCharles Jordan Community Center

Charles Ray Jordan (September 1, 1937 – April 4, 2014) was a Portland City Commissioner from 1974 until 1984. He was the first African American city commissioner in Portland, Oregon, and is the namesake of the Charles Jordan Community Center.

Early life[edit]

Jordan was born in 1937 in Longview, Texas. He graduated from Palm Springs High School in 1956 and received a basketball scholarship to Gonzaga University. Graduating in 1961, Jordan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education, Sociology, and Philosophy and later attended graduate studies at both Loma Linda University and the University of Southern California.[1]


During the 1960s, Jordan served in the parks and recreation department for the City of Palm Springs and became an assistant to the City Manager. In 1970, Jordan moved to Portland to help with the federal anti-poverty Model Cities Program.[1]

City Council[edit]

Portland mayor Neil Goldschmidt appointed Jordan to an empty seat on the city council in 1974. Jordan was the first African American city commissioner in Portland[2] (members of the city council are called "commissioners" under Portland's city commission government form). He was elected to the council seat in 1976 and reelected in 1980.[3] In 1977, Goldschmidt appointed Jordan Portland's police commissioner,[4] a post he held until 1981.[5] In 1984, Jordan resigned his council seat and became the director of parks and recreation for the city of Austin, Texas.[6][7]

Portland Parks and Recreation[edit]

Jordan returned to Portland in 1989 as Director of Portland Parks & Recreation, and he would guide the department for 14 years. During Jordan's time at the parks department, Portland acquired 44 new recreational facilities.[2]

In 2012, Portland honored Jordan by renaming University Park Community Center in Portland's Portsmouth neighborhood the Charles Jordan Community Center.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Charles R. Jordan". The History Makers. September 20, 2004. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Griffin, Anna (April 4, 2014). "Charles Jordan remembered: Portland's first African-American commissioner and longtime parks director was 'a giant in this city'". The Oregonian. Portland: Oregonian Media Group. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  3. ^ Heinz, Spencer (October 10, 1983). "Two-term limit sought for City Council". The Oregonian. p. B8.
  4. ^ Maynard, Rosemary (February 10, 1977). "Jordan dealt police in City Hall job shuffle". The Oregonian. p. 1.
  5. ^ Redden, Jim (October 14, 2014). "Police change has spotty history". Portland Tribune. Portland: Pamplin Media Group. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  6. ^ Aaron, Mesh (April 4, 2014). "Former City Commissioner Charles Jordan Dies at 77". Willamette Week. Portland: Zusman and Meeker. Archived from the original on December 19, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  7. ^ Painter Jr., John (October 23, 1984). "Record field seeks vacated City Council seat". The Oregonian. p. B1.
  8. ^ Hall, Chase G. (June 29, 2012). "Charles Jordan to be honored in rededication of University Park Community Center in Portsmouth". The Oregonian. Portland: Oregonian Media Group. Retrieved December 19, 2014.

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