The Portland City Council named Danielle West, who has served as interim city manager since November 2021, to the permanent job on Monday.

West, 45, will assume the position immediately as part of a three-year employment contract with an annual base salary of $210,000. She will be the first woman to serve as city manager in Portland.

The council approved her appointment unanimously.

“Danielle is thoughtful and creative,” Mayor Kate Snyder said. “She truly is a persistent problem-solver. At every turn, I’ve been genuinely impressed with her willingness and eagerness to understand the issue and consider options.”

City councilors praised West as a good communicator, a relationship builder and someone who is trusted by staff.

“She has demonstrated a commitment to the city over the past 18 months as interim city manager and throughout the past 15 years, which is remarkable,” City Councilor Andrew Zarro said. “Those of you who have acknowledged how hard it is to work in municipal government know that doesn’t happen often anymore.”


Zarro said West is “one of the smartest people I have met,” and that she has brought stability and continuity to the job. “I think your confirmation will provide us with the stability we need as we navigate the issues facing our city,” Zarro said.

Councilor Anna Trevorrow said the city is lucky to have West because of her “step-up ability” and skill navigating the priorities and needs of different groups. “Even when we don’t agree on a particular issue, you still have a path forward,” Trevorrow told West. “That’s extremely important and probably the most important credential for this role.”

West thanked her family – her two children and mother were in the audience in council chambers Monday – for their support, as well as the council and city staff.

“The gravity of this moment is not lost on me,” West said. “To be the first female in this role, it’s pretty amazing … I recognize that it’s significant and I think the biggest thing for me is I don’t want to be the last.”

West said the city is her home, her children attend the Portland Public Schools and she has lived in Portland longer than she has anywhere else. “I want to do great things for the city and I want to see it succeed,” she said. “I know we have problems and challenges, but I know we can do it if we put those problem-solving caps on.”

West’s contract includes a one-time sign-on bonus of $7,500, a $750 per month automobile allowance and provides for a four-week paid sabbatical during the summer of 2023. Her base salary is subject to cost of living increases, and she is also eligible for merit pay increases at the will of the council ranging from 3% to 5% over the life of the contract.


Nearly a dozen people spoke about West’s appointment during public comment Monday, the majority of them in favor, including several former elected officials.

“She is a collaborator and a wonderful co-conspirator if you’re ever trying to figure something out,” said Belinda Ray, a former city councilor who works for the Greater Portland Council of Governments.

She said West frequently speaks on behalf of the city at GPCOG meetings. “She really inspires other officials,” Ray said. “She knows her stuff and knows what she’s doing.”

West was appointed interim city manager in the fall of 2021 when former City Manager Jon Jennings left for a similar job in Clearwater, Florida. She has served in the role through a continued influx of asylum seekers to the city, an ongoing homelessness crisis and as the city emerged from the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city received 77 applicants for the job. West was one of three finalists including John Curp, former interim city manager of Cincinnati and Alex McIntyre, interim city manager in San Bruno, California.

In other news Monday, the council unanimously approved a $143.8 million Portland public schools budget, which includes a 5.7% increase in the school side of the spending plan.


School spending accounts for just over 50% of the overall tax rate. West has included a 6.1% increase in the tax rate in the proposed city budget, which when taken in conjunction with the school budget, would result in an overall tax rate increase of about 5.9%, or $300 on a home valued at $375,000.

The school budget will go to voters in a referendum June 13. The council is expected to vote June 5 on the city’s proposed $261 million general fund budget. Only two people spoke during a public hearing on the city budget Monday.

Heidi Wierman, a geriatrician at Maine Medical Center, told the council that a reduced number of long-term care beds at facilities such as the city-run Barron Center has been a challenge for patients and hospitals.

She said Maine Medical Center has been forced to set up a special care unit for patients awaiting a nursing home bed and asked the council to allocate sufficient funding for the Barron Center, which has been suffering from staffing shortages. “We are currently facing a crisis with the lack of long-term care beds in Portland and the state,” she said.

Philip Mathieu, a member of the Rent Board, spoke in support of funding in West’s budget for additional housing safety staff.

“Staffing limitations have limited the ability of (the housing safety office) to act proactively in response to rental registrations that appear to be incomplete or out of compliance with the ordinance,” Mathieu said. “That kind of proactive monitoring and enforcement is critical to making sure the ordinance is implemented fairly, with its intended effect, and that requires more staffing.”

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