I'm writing an RPG campaign that takes place in a city of Oregon. However, taking a look in lists of mayors of some cities, I found that some mayors have mandates of only one year, despite others having even nineteen years. I don't know if this happens in other states of the USA, so I put "Oregon" in the title because I am more interested in this one.

So, I would like to know:

How often do the elections normally occur?

What is causing that huge difference in the duration of various mandates?

If this pattern is not valid in all Oregon's cities, I am more interest in Portland's election. Salem's fits me well too, but only if an answer about Portland is being hard to find.

  • 1
    The question is quite broad - is it OK to focus on the main aspect only - "why there is so much difference between durations of some mandates..."?
    – Alexei
    Jan 29, 2020 at 7:38
  • I think that I put it more clear now
    – Mycroft
    Jan 29, 2020 at 7:44
  • 1
    Wouldn't that depend on the city? I would imagine most cities have their own rules for electing mayors.
    – user29681
    Jan 29, 2020 at 19:27
  • @Chipster I have check Portland and Salem and both have this irregular pattern of mandates.
    – Mycroft
    Jan 29, 2020 at 21:02
  • Do you have any material regarding Salem's mayoral election? cityofsalem.net/Pages/run-for-elected-city-office.aspx indicates that mayors serve 2 year terms, which doesn't strike me as strange at all. Feb 3, 2020 at 19:58

1 Answer 1


Q: How do Oregon's mayoral elections work?

The League of Oregon Cities Oregon Municipal Handbook – Chapter 3: Municipal Officials provides information on variations in government organization among cities in Oregon.

How often do the elections normally occur?

Every two or four years.

What is causing that huge difference in the duration of various mandates?

Some cities have term-limits, others don't.

If this pattern is not valid in all Oregon's cities, I am more interest in Portland's election.

There is a variety of organization among different cities. Cities may have a council or commission with from five to nine members. The Mayor may be elected by voters or appointed by the council. Some cities have a city manager (or administrator) hired by the council.


All City elected officials serve four-year terms and are elected at-large. All candidates for an office appear on the May Primary ballot. A candidate is elected if they receive a majority of votes. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes advance to the November General Election ballot. The candidate receiving the most votes in November is then elected.

  • The Mayor and Commissioners No. 1 and 4 are elected during presidential elections.
  • The Auditor and Commissioners No. 2 and 3 are elected during midterm elections.

However, a change in the above will take effect after the 2024 election.

In 2022, Portland residents approved a ballot measure to replace the commission form of government with a 12-member council elected in four districts using single transferable vote, with a professional city manager appointed by a directly-elected mayor, with the first elections to be held in 2024.


The elected officials of the City are the Mayor, eight City Councilors, and the Municipal Judge.

Salem also has a city manager.

Mayor (unpaid volunteer position) - 2 years

City Councilor (unpaid volunteer position) - 4 years

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