Meet your Portland City Commissioner: Dan Saltzman

In this, the third installment of our ongoing series, learn about the values that drive the City Commissioners to seek their positions, and about the City bureaus they oversee – in their own words …

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman says his term as a Multnomah County Commissioner has helped him become a better Portland City Commissioner.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Occupying Position #3 on the Portland City Council is the “Commissioner of Public Affairs”, Dan Saltzman. “As you know, these titles have little connection with what we actually do,” Saltzman said with a smile as we began our interview. “The bureaus and organizations we oversee are assigned by the City’s Mayor.”

Read on, and see what we learned in this interview, conducted at Portland City Hall, about how Saltzman governs, and the Bureaus he oversees, and the accomplishments of which he is most proud – in his own words …

Saltzman’s philosophy of governance
“My philosophy is to listen; I’m a very good listener. I’m perhaps a better listener than a talker. I do listen, truly listen, to what people say – and then seek results for them. It’s my way of governing. I get good ideas by listening to people, and finding out what the needs are.”

“This results in how I run the Bureaus of which I’m in charge – and, how I’m responsive to concerns from citizens. It also results in how I act in the initiatives I pursue, or the City policies I support or try to change.”

Commissioner Saltzman says he likes being able to work on projects that make a tangible difference to citizens of the City of Portland.

About being in office
“What I like most about being in office is the opportunity to make a difference. When I really work on issues, I can see the results. It’s the ability to do tangible things and feel that I’m making a difference.

“My passion areas are children and families; and also the environment and sustainable development.

“[Before being elected to Portland City Council] I had a lot of satisfaction as a Multnomah County Commissioner during my five year tenure there. In many respects, this [my current role] is more of a ‘bully pulpit’ for working on the issues about which I care most; it’s a more highly-visible position. And, I think that experience has made me a better City Commissioner; a lot of people in City Hall don’t understand the work of the County.

Saltzman visits the Gateway Area Business Association in February, 2010, to talk about the new Domestic Violence One-Stop Center soon to open on E. Burnside Street at SE 102nd Avenue, and to answer questions about the Bureaus he oversees.

City agencies overseen by Commissioner Saltzman
Bureaus, offices, or agencies in City government are supervised by Portland City Commissioners. Here are the agencies for which Commissioner Saltzman is responsible.

Portland Police Bureau – “It’s been a new experience for me to be in charge of this Bureau. It’s got its own dynamics. The public’s reactions can be hot and cold. But overall, I have a great amount of respect for men and women at the Police Bureau. Not only are they good officers committed to community policing, but also serve in the community as coaches, foster parents, and other community-minded activities.

“Every now and then somebody does something really stupid, or criminal; but, by and large, they are great people.”

Bureau of Environmental Services – “This agency is in charge of our sewer system and also protecting our watershed. They are doing the biggest public works project in the City’s history; it will all but eliminate combined sewage overflows into the Willamette River and Columbia Slough. They’re doing the Big Pipe Project on time and on budget.

“They also do work on watershed restoration; and are eliminating much of the flooding along Foster Boulevard by expanding the wetlands, and increasing the absorption capacity for floodwaters. And, important to East Portlanders, they’re investing in alternative ways – like building bio-swales – to keep rainwater out of our sumps, dry wells, or pipes.”

Children’s Levy Office – “This is the office that oversees the $15 Million a year we invest in organizations providing proven programs. In this small office, they oversee all the contracts and agreements we have with nonprofit organizations to provide early childhood services, after-school mentoring programs, child-abuse prevention and intervention programs, and programs that help children in foster care succeed. We’re serving about 16,000 children a year. We gave priority to programs that serve populations in east of SE 82nd Avenue of Roses, where the need is great.”

Office of Youth Violence Prevention – “As you know, this is an important issue in outer East Portland, especially along the MAX line. They are primarily working to reduce gang-related violence in our City. They work closely with law enforcement and with nonprofit organizations to provide outreach to potential gang members, to steer them away from gang affiliation.

Fire / Police Disability and Retirement Office – “I’ve only had this assignment for a year, but I did lead the reforms that voters approved in 2006. This office has their own board; they make many decisions. The board doesn’t make disability decisions anymore – those are now made by professionals. This office administers the benefits, provides the hearings for disability payments. I hire the office’s Director.

His door is open to all who wish to see him, Saltzman says; and, mail-delivered letters are especially welcomed.

Accomplishments during his current term
“I’m proud of diversity of the Bureau directors who work for me.

“I’m most proud of getting the Children’s Levy overwhelmingly renewed last November, by about 70% of the vote. I’m really pleased that we’ve gotten the Portland Police Bureau through a tough budget year; although this year looks to be tough too, and we’re making cuts. And, that our police force is becoming more diverse.”

Message to outer East Portland citizens
“It’s been an honor to serve the people of Portland. I know a lot of people in east Portland feel neglected. I try to be out there, and learn about issues that are of concern to them. Whether it be housing density, or livability, or public safety issues in Southeast and outer east Portland – I work hard to those seeking representation.”

About being contacted by citizens
“I’ll meet with anyone who wants to meet with me.  Or we can do phone calls or e-mails.

“The ideal method reach me is by telephone or e-mail. We take very seriously people who call and e-mail us. We take even more seriously people or write letters to us, because so few people do that anymore – those go to the top of the heap.”

Contact information

  • E-mail:
  • Internet Web Page: CLICK HERE to view it!
  • Telephone: (503) 823-4151
  • US Mail or delivery: 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Suite 230, Portland, Oregon, 97204.
  • Or, visit Dan Saltzman’s Facebook page: CLICK HERE

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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