Charlie Hales

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Charlie Hales
Charlie Hales in 2011.jpg
52nd Mayor of Portland, Oregon
In office
January 1, 2013 – January 1, 2017
Preceded bySam Adams
Succeeded byTed Wheeler
Portland City Commissioner
In office
January 1993 – May 2002
Preceded byDick Bogle
Succeeded byRandy Leonard
Personal details
Charles Andrew Hales

(1956-01-22) January 22, 1956 (age 62)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Nancy Hales
Alma materUniversity of Virginia

Charles Andrew Hales (born January 22, 1956) is the national director for urban design and planning for HDR, a large architecture and engineering firm based in Omaha, Nebraska. He served as the 52nd Mayor of Portland from January 1, 2013,[1] to January 1, 2017, and previously served as City Commissioner-in-Charge of the City's Bureaus of Planning, Parks, Fire, and Transportation and on the Portland City Council from 1993 to 2002.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Charles Andrew Hales was born in Washington, D.C., in January 1956.[3] His father, Alfred Ross Hales, Jr., was a structural engineer for the United States Navy and his mother, Carol Hales, was a homemaker. He had two older siblings but, at nine years younger than his brother, grew up "virtually as an only child."[3]

Hales attended public schools in Alexandria, Virginia, and graduated from Thomas Edison High School in Fairfax County, where he participated in band and drama club. He graduated with honors from the University of Virginia in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in political theory.[3] He took graduate studies in public administration at Lewis & Clark College in Portland.


City Council[edit]

Hales was elected to Portland City Council in 1992 at age 36. Previously he was vice president for the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland. He was sworn in as a City Commissioner — as city council members in Portland are called — in January 1993.[4]

During his tenure on the city council, Hales conceived of and won voter approval for the first parks bond measure in over 50 years, funding construction of two new community centers and over 100 park improvement projects across the city.[5] He led Portland's role in expanding MAX Light Rail to Portland International Airport, and north along Interstate Avenue — now the "red" and "yellow" lines of the regional light rail system. Also in his role as City Commissioner, Hales completed the first phase of the Portland Streetcar system, the first urban streetcar in the U.S. in almost 50 years.[6] He also completed the planning of the Pearl District and South Waterfront redevelopment areas, which were designed as dense, transit-oriented "new urban" neighborhoods.[7][8] Hales' advocacy for transportation — summed up in his stated goal to make Portland "the best European city in America" for non-auto transportation[9] — earned him the nickname, "Choo-Choo Charlie."[10]

One of Hales' more controversial initiatives as a city commissioner was diversifying Portland Fire Bureau workforce. He hired the first-ever chief from outside the Bureau ranks,[11] and created an apprenticeship program that added over 80 women and people of color to what had previously been a 99-percent white, male organization.[12] He also became the only Portland politician to vote against Joint Terrorism Task Force involvement.[13]

At the end of May 2002,[10] part way through his third term, Hales left to take a position with HDR, Inc., an architecture and engineering firm, where he managed planning and design of new streetcar lines in cities across the country.[5] Projects Hales planned that are now open include streetcar lines in Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, Tucson, and Kansas City.[citation needed] Following his departure from City Council, Hales told Willamette Week that he considered the 1994 parks bond measure and the streetcar to be his greatest achievements while in office.[5]

Mayoral tenure[edit]

Hales campaigning for mayor in February 2012

In 2011, Hales announced that he would be a candidate for mayor in 2012. On November 6, 2012, he defeated challenger Jefferson Smith,[14] receiving 61% of the vote.[15] He assumed office on January 1, 2013.

During the first two years of his tenure as mayor, Hales confronted the city's largest-ever budget shortfall — $21 million[16] — and emerged with a balanced budget,[17] as well as conservative budgeting practices that allowed in enough revenue for supplemental budgets.[18][19] Hales also implemented a number of reforms in police practices, and prioritized community policing through walking beats[20][21] and his choice in police chief,[22] the community-minded Larry O'Dea.[23][24] Along with Commissioner Steve Novick, Hales in 2014 proposed $46 million in new fees to pay for street maintenance and safety improvements, such as filling potholes and building sidewalks.[25]. After strong objections from business interests blocked adoption of the fees, Hales and Novick led a campaign to pass the first city gas tax, a four-year, ten-cent tax dedicated to street maintenance.

Other significant actions during Hales' tenure included adoption of the city's 25-year Comprehensive Plan, rezoning the city to accommodate 250,000 more residents and 100,000 more jobs, purchase of the 14-acre downtown U.S. Post Office site by the city's redevelopment agency, and the redevelopment of the core of the previously-blighted Lents neighborhood in Southeast Portland. Hales also successfully pushed city officials to begin foreclosing on "zombie" houses - homes that had become uninhabitable and were subject to tens of thousand of dollars in city liens.

On March 6, 2015 Hales announced he would seek reelection for the 2016 mayoral election[26][27] but in September State Treasurer and former county commissioner Ted Wheeler announced his intention to run a well-funded campaign against Hales.[28] A month later Hales abandoned his reelection bid, stating, "So when confronted with a choice between giving my full effort to the job of being mayor and spending that energy on a long and consuming re-election campaign, it's an easy choice. Therefore, I have decided not to file for re-election.".[29][30][31] Wheeler cruised to victory in May 2016 with token opposition.[32]

On November 3, 2015, Hales and the Government of Portland, Oregon passed a resolution opposing the local expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.[33]

Much of Hales's tenure as mayor was embroiled in his controversial decisions regarding Portland's homeless issue. Hales and the City Council initially declared a housing emergency in 2015[34] before experimenting with a "Safe Sleep Policy" which promoted non-enforcement of anti-camping laws on sidewalks and rights of way, which was promptly met with lawsuits from local businesses and neighborhood groups.[35]

Following these lawsuits as well as regular protests from the residents adjacent to the Springwater Corridor Trail,[36] Hales reversed his "Safe Sleep Policy" and vowed to clean up the Trail. Following lawsuits and protests against this decision, Hales delayed the sweep by a month, during a period when he was on vacation. Hales and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury led the local effort to house homeless veterans under an initiative lunched by First Lady Michelle Obama. Working with federal agencies and local landlords, the Portland effort "effectively ended homelessness among veterans," placing 1294 of them in permanent housing.

HDR, Inc.[edit]

Hales has spent the longest portion of his career as a practice leader at HDR, Inc., an architecture and engineering firm based in Omaha, Nebraska and employing over 10,000 professionals in some 170 offices in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany, China, and the Middle East. During his first employment there, Hales was part of a team that build the firm's transit practice, starting from less than twenty employees in 2002 to over 500 today. Hales returned to the firm in August, 2018 as a Senior Vice President, and now leads HDR's global practice for urban design and planning.

Personal life[edit]

Hales married his second wife, Nancy, in 2004 and shared residency at her Stevenson, Washington home until 2009. He and Nancy have a combined family of five adult children. After completing his mayoral term, he and his family embarked on an 18-month, 9000-mile trip in their sailboat "Elizabeth," traveling down the west coast of the U.S. and Central America, through the Panama Canal, portions of the Caribbean and the Bahamas, returning to the U.S. in July, 2018.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hales sworn in as new Portland mayor". KATU. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  2. ^ Schmidt, Brad (May 23, 2011). "Portland's competitive 2012 mayoral race under way with Charlie Hales' announcement". The Oregonian. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Pein, Corey (April 11, 2012). "The Road to Hales: Charlie Hales is running for mayor based on his record. It's full of detours, roundabouts and switchbacks". Willamette Week. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  4. ^ Mayer, James; and Barnes C. Ellis (January 5, 1993). "Katz takes swearing-in to Roosevelt High". The Oregonian, p. 1.
  5. ^ a b c Budnick, Nick; Schrag, John; Zusman, Mark (August 7, 2002). "You're a Good Man, Charlie Hales". Willamette Week. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  6. ^ Stewart, Bill (June 23, 1998). "Downtown streetcar plan ready to roll". The Oregonian. (Subscription required (help)).
  7. ^
  8. ^ Leeson, Fred (March 13, 1994). "Old river area holds promise of rebirth". The Oregonian. (Subscription required (help)).
  9. ^ Duin, Steve (April 17, 2001). "It's beginning to feel a lot like Roma". The Oregonian. (Subscription required (help)).
  10. ^ a b Christ, Janet (May 30, 2002). "Hugs and flowers as Hales hits the road". The Oregonian. p. D2. (Subscription required (help)).
  11. ^ Mayer, James (November 25, 1993). "City goes outside to select fire chief". The Oregonian. (Subscription required (help)).
  12. ^ Har, Janie (July 31, 2011). "Hales' record on diversity is not an empty boast". The Oregonian. (Subscription required (help)).
  13. ^ Schmidt, Brad (May 23, 2011). "Charlie Hales says he's running for Portland mayor in 2012". The Oregonian. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  14. ^ Slovic, Beth (November 6, 2012). "Portland Mayor-elect Charlie Hales will work 'every day' to make city proud". The Oregonian. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  15. ^ "November 2012 General Election - Official Results". Office of the City Auditor, Portland. December 2012. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  16. ^ Mesh, Aaron (January 30, 2013). "Return of Chucky: Portland needs to make big spending cuts. New mayor Charlie Hales is swinging the ax". Willamette Week. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  17. ^ Kost, Ryan (June 20, 2013). "Portland City Council gives final OK to budget that includes several cuts". The Oregonian. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  18. ^ Theen, Andrew (September 17, 2013). "In the wake of a difficult budget process, Portland now finds itself with 'excess' cash". The Oregonian. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  19. ^ Theen, Andrew (November 12, 2014). "Portland approves $11.1 million in spending on maintenance, debt repayment projects". The Oregonian. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  20. ^ Edge, Sami (September 3, 2014). "Street Talk: Community policing has come to Hawthorne Boulevard — and it seems to be working". Willamette Week. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  21. ^ City of Portland (December 4, 2014). "Outreach Workers, Police Praise Relationship-Building Approach to Policing" (Press release). Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  22. ^ City of Portland (October 7, 2014). "Chief Reese Announces Retirement: Mayor Names Assistant Chief Larry O'Dea as Successor" (Press release). Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  23. ^ Bernstein, Maxine (February 28, 2014). "Portland Police Bureau needs to change its mission, assistant chief says". The Oregonian. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
  24. ^ Maus, Jonathan (November 7, 2008). "Head of Traffic Division promoted to Assistant Police Chief". BikePortland.
  25. ^ "Our Streets Transportation Funding Conversation". Portland Bureau of Transportation. 2014.
  26. ^ Redden, Jim (March 6, 2015). "Hales to run for re-election in 2016". Portland Tribune. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  27. ^ Theen, Andrew (March 6, 2015). "Portland Mayor Charlie Hales will seek second term in 2016". OregonLive/The Oregonian. Retrieved November 28, 2015.
  28. ^ Duffy, Lizzy (September 9, 2015). "Ted Wheeler To Run For Portland Mayor In 2016". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  29. ^ Slovic, Beth (October 28, 2015). "Mayor Charlie Hales Abandons Bid for Re-election". Willamette Week. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  30. ^ Tomlinson, Kerry (October 26, 2015). "Portland Mayor Charlie Hales won't seek re-election". KATU News. Archived from the original on October 29, 2015. Retrieved November 28, 2015.
  31. ^ Woodward, Chris (October 26, 2015). "Mayor Charlie Hales announces he won't seek re-election". KOIN 6 News. Retrieved November 28, 2015.
  32. ^ Schmidt, Brad (May 17, 2016). "Ted Wheeler wins race to be Portland's next mayor". The Oregonian. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  33. ^ Hirji, Zahra (November 13, 2015). "Resolution Opposing All New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Passes in Portland". InsideClimate News. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  34. ^ Mesh, Aaron (September 25, 2015). "Mayor Charlie Hales Declares Portland Housing Emergency". Willamette Week. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  35. ^ Bernton, Hal (May 9, 2016). "Portland allows homeless to camp overnight on streets; Seattle officials watch". Seattle Times. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  36. ^ Park, Eileen (August 6, 2015). "Angry Lents neighbors protest at mayor's house". KOIN. Retrieved October 4, 2016.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Sam Adams
Mayor of Portland, Oregon
Succeeded by
Ted Wheeler