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Charles Jordan (politician)

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Charles Jordan
Jordan in 2012
Portland City Commissioner
In office
March 1974 – September 27, 1984
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


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


Members of Portland city council appointed Jordan to a seat vacated by commissioner Lloyd Anderson on the city council in March 1974.[2][3][4] Mayor Neil Goldschmidt, who had announced his intent to appoint the first Black member of City Council, ensured that there were enough votes to make the appointment in a way that commissioner Connie McCready alleged violated the intent of Oregon's open meeting laws.[2] Jordan was the city's first African-American city commissioner[5] (members of the city council are called "commissioners" under Portland's city commission government form). He was elected to the council seat in November 1974, to complete the final two years of the term,[6] and re-elected in 1976 and 1980.[7]

In 1977, shortly after appointing Bruce Baker Police Chief and after having informally offered the police bureau to Connie McCready, Goldschmidt assigned the police bureau to Jordan.[8] Jordan expressed displeasure with his assignments, since Goldschmidt simultaneously removed two significant bureaus from his portfolio without warning, and also retained his own power, under the city charter, to hire and fire the chief of police.[9] Jordan held the post until 1981.[10] In that year, two Portland police officers drew national attention for a racially motivated prank. The officers were fired under Jordan's watch. Then-mayor Frank Ivancie fired Baker and removed the Police Bureau from Jordan's portfolio. The move sparked a protest, led by Ron Herndon.[11] The Portland Internal Investigations Auditing Committee (PIIAC) was formed by City Council over the opposition of Mayor Frank Ivancie, who was closely tied with the Police Bureau, in response to the incident, in 1982. The police union organized a petition drive to bring the formation of the committee before voters, but voters approved the committee.[12]

In 1984, Jordan resigned his council seat and became the director of parks and recreation for the city of Austin, Texas.[13][14]

Jordan was succeeded as Commissioner by Dick Bogle, who was also African-American.

Portland Parks and Recreation


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.[5]

In 2012, Portland honored Jordan by renaming University Park Community Center in Portland's Portsmouth neighborhood the Charles Jordan Community Center.[15]


  1. ^ a b "Charles R. Jordan". The History Makers. September 20, 2004. Archived from the original on December 19, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Trachtenberg, Bruce (March 11, 1974). "Goldschmidt Backs Methods Used In Commissioner Choice". The Oregonian.
  3. ^ Noles, B.J. (March 14, 1974). "Jordan takes post as Portland commissioner". The Oregonian. p. 1.
  4. ^ Leeson, Fred (December 31, 1974). "County, Portland Go About Separate Ways". The Oregon Journal.
  5. ^ 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. Archived from the original on December 20, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  6. ^ "Stays On [photo and caption only]". The Oregonian. November 6, 1974. p. A43.
  7. ^ Heinz, Spencer (October 10, 1983). "Two-term limit sought for City Council". The Oregonian. p. B8.
  8. ^ Tillstrom, Keith (February 16, 1977). "Jordan offered Police Bureau's helm". The Oregon Journal.
  9. ^ Maynard, Rosemary (February 19, 1977). "Jordan dealt police in City Hall job shuffle". The Oregonian. p. 1.
  10. ^ Redden, Jim (October 14, 2014). "Police change has spotty history". Portland Tribune. Portland: Pamplin Media Group. Archived from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  11. ^ LANE, DEE (August 1, 1988). "STILL ATTEMPTS TO MEND FENCES AMONG BLACKS". The Oregonian.
  12. ^ SNELL, JOHN; MANZANO, PHIL (April 28, 1992). "POLICE WATCHDOG LACKS BITE?". The Oregonian.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Painter Jr., John (October 23, 1984). "Record field seeks vacated City Council seat". The Oregonian. p. B1.
  15. ^ 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. Archived from the original on December 20, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2014.