Ex-Mayor Sam Adams leaving Portland for DC

Adams, Portland mayor from 2009-2012, taking climate change job

Former Portland Mayor Sam Adams January 14, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
Former Portland Mayor Sam Adams January 14, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Sam Adams, the high-profile predecessor of Portland mayor Charlie Hales, is leaving Portland for a position with the World Resources Institute in Washington, DC, the global research and lobbying organization confirmed in a release Wednesday morning.

Adams will serve as the new director for WRI’s US Climate Initiative, which aims to offer “ambitious implementation” of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

“I’ll be leading a group of researchers that will continue to look for the opportunities to reduce climate emissions coming from the United States,” Adams told KOIN 6 News.

The move will be a big change for Adams, who grew up in Newport and made his political career in Oregon.

“Sam is a dynamic and savvy leader, who will invigorate U.S. climate activities at a critical time for the nation and planet,” WRI president and CEO, Dr. Andrew Steer, said in the prepared statement. “As mayor, a member of the city council and chief of staff, Sam played a central role in making Portland one of the most livable and sustainable cities in the United States. We are excited to have his leadership to build support for national action that will address the climate challenge.”

Adams, who began his career in local politics in the mid-80s, served as Portland commissioner from 2005 to 2008 and as the city’s mayor from 2009 to 2012. Adams gained notoriety as the first openly gay mayor of a major US city and became a popular figure among many Portlanders, even making an appearance on “Portlandia.”

Adams opted not to run again in 2012, however, after admitting he had lied about a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old, a rumor that began to swirl during his initial election campaign.

Since leaving the City of Portland, Adams has served as the Executive Director of the City Club of Portland, an education-focused non-profit group meant to gather together the city’s civic minded residents.

In Wednesday’s release, Adams said he knows firsthand how a group of “smart and dedicated people” can make positive change.

“The United States should be a leader in climate actions that will reduce emissions, improve people’s lives and open economic opportunities,” he said. “I am thrilled to join such a highly respected organization, which fits squarely into my life goals and vision.”

Adams has made no other official statements, but has continually accepted congratulations on social media.

“We have built a stronger City Club. It has been a great team effort. And a heck of a lot of fun. Thank you,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

KOIN 6’s Ken Boddie contributed to the reporting of this story.

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