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Sam Adams – Former Mayor of Portland, Activist and Environmentalist


By PDX People

There’s no doubt that one of the best and most well-known politicians and People from Portland Oregon over the last 30 years is former mayor Sam Adams.

Born in September, 1963, Adams actually grew up in Newport Oregon before moving to Portland to attend the University of Oregon and work on a number of political campaigns before he would eventually take office as a Portland commissioner.

Former Portland Mayor – Vera Katz

During his early days in politics, Adams worked on many well-known campaigns including: Vera Katz’s campaign for mayor of Portland. She eventually won that election and Adams served as her chief of staff for seven years before he would eventually go back to school and earn his degree in political science.

Fast-forward to 2004 and Adams was elected to the Portland City Council where he would serve for 4 years and earn a reputation as being a policy driven individual who had an intense focus on such issues as the Arts, Gay rights and sustainability.

His work on the Portland City Council helped him to establish a base of passionate supporters who knew that he was intensely focused upon the issues, serving the citizens of Portland Oregon without being distracted by big business or the many other issues of the day.

Adams would eventually run for Mayor of Portland and he won the primary in May 2008.

Time as Mayor

In 2009, Adams in his inauguration speech said his top three priorities were creating more family-wage jobs, reducing the high school dropout rate, and making Portland more sustainable.

In his first State of the City address on February 27, 2009, Adams outlined his goal of making Portland “the most sustainable city in the world”. Adams emphasized reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and investment in efficient green energy as essential to the city’s energy-environmental goals and called on the Oregon State Legislature to provide incentives for the expansion of green energy companies, notably Vestas Wind Systems, into the Portland metropolitan area. Source – Wikipedia

A passionate biker, Adams also was instrumental at creating more bike lanes in Portland during his term as Mayor. (Photo credit: League of American Bicyclists)

56% Approval Rate Before Leaving Office

What’s different about Sam Adams and his time as mayor of Portland Oregon is that instead of running for reelection 2011, he walked away from the job, overcoming scandal, and announced that he would not seek a second term as mayor of the City of Roses but, unlike many other politicians who walk away from their jobs with low approval ratings, Adams left his position as the mayor of Portland Oregon with a 56% approval rating roughly eight months before he eventually would leave office.

What Is Sam Adams Up to Today?

Since leaving office 6 years ago many PDX People have wanted to know what former mayor Sam Adams is up to today.

Although he has seemingly remain behind the scenes, Sam Adams has been heavily involved in issues that have been near and dear to his heart including a two-year stint running the City Club of Portland Oregon.

Sam Adams on season 5 of Portlandia

Sam’s position with the City Club of Portland saw their membership grow by 80% and he continued to remain active in the community including filming guest roles on hit television shows filmed in the area like Grimm and Portlander.

After his position with the City Club of Portland ended, Adams took a new position in Washington DC working for the World Resources Institute.

Upon announcing his departure from the City Club many of his contemporaries applauded his decision:

“Sam is a dynamic and savvy leader, who will invigorate U.S. climate activities at a critical time for the nation and planet,” Steer said in the nonprofit’s news release. “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.”

The City Club of Portland’s president, Karen Kevin, announced Adams’ departure in an early morning email to members.

“The Board of Governors wants to thank Sam for his leadership over the last two years. … Together, in the past two years, we doubled corporate sponsorships, obtained new grant funding for expanded programs and outreach, and, after the most recent annual membership drive, grew City Club membership by 47 percent. We have diversified our leadership.”

Kevin said Greg Wallinger, the group’s research and policy director, will serve as its interim executive director.

For more information about Sam Adams click here to view his Twitter feed or to learn more about his environmentalism work visit the World Resources Institute at







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