Neil Goldschmidt

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Neil Goldschmidt was Mayor of Portland from 1973 to 1979.

Portland's whole reputation as a politically liberal & environmentally responsible city is relatively recent -- about 40 years old -- and traceable back to a few individuals. Governor Tom McCall is one. Goldschmidt was another, and the story of his political life reads like a fairy tale. A Grimm one.

As a young hustling semi-hippie community activist, Goldschmidt was instrumental in stopping the proposed Mount Hood Freeway, which would have destroyed an entire corridor of housing in Southeast and permanently damaged the character and shape of the city. Goldschmidt was able to accept the half-a-billion dollars federal highway money anyway. That funded the first MAX transit line. On the back of that success Goldschmidt was elected the nation's youngest mayor (at age 31), and oversaw the removal of the downtown Harbor Freeway and the creation of Tom McCall Waterfront Park, among many other projects. He left Portland to serve as a cabinet official in 1979 under President Carter, then was Governor of Oregon from 1987 to 1991.

In May 2004, the Willamette Week published a series of Pulitzer Prize-winning stories about Goldschmidt's sexual relationship with an underage girl during his term as mayor. He'd reached a $350,000 settlement with his victim that guaranteed her silence, and the revelations came after the statute of limitations had passed on criminal charges.

Following her death in early 2011, officials in Salem removed Goldschmidt's portrait from the state capitol.