PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — City councilors in Oregon’s largest city have delayed a vote on an additional $18 million in cuts to the Portland police budget until after next week’s presidential election amid a heated mayoral race and mounting tension over the police handling of near-nightly protests.
Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a statement after the decision late Wednesday that the council needs more time to evaluate the impact of the cuts on police services.
The council adjourned after three council members, including Wheeler, asked for more time to consider the proposal.
That angered Councilwoman Jo Ann Hardesty, the first Black woman elected to the council, and she abruptly left the virtual meeting, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Thursday.
Wheeler, a Democrat, is running for reelection Tuesday in a tight race against a challenger to his political left where racial injustice protests have dominated national headlines since the police killing of George Floyd in May.
Wheeler’s challenger, Sarah Iannarone, supports cutting $50 million from the police budget, an amount Wheeler has resisted amid concerns about how police services would be replaced.
Iannarone was one of more than 150 people who testified in favor of the additional police cuts. Hardesty, who had not endorsed either mayoral candidate, said on Facebook on Thursday that she would endorse Iannarone.