Meet the Mayor

The mayor of Portland, Michigan is not elected directly.  Every two years there is a non-partisan election to fill the vacancies on the City Council.  Once the City Council is seated, they select the councilmember who will act as mayor.  The City Charter states that the mayor is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the City and performs the ceremonial tasks associated with the role of mayor.  For example, since becoming the mayor in 2003, I’ve presided at seventeen marriage ceremonies.  The Charter for the City of Portland outlines the roles and responsibilities of the Mayor. 

While being the CEO of the City of Portland sounds like it would be a fulltime job, the person responsible for running the day-to-day operation of the City of Portland is the City Manager.  That person is the only employee the City Council supervises.  The supervision of all of the other employees of the City of Portland is the responsibility of the City Manager.  Click on the “City Manager” link to learn more about Portland’s City Manager, Mr. S. Tutt Gorman.


As I indicated above, I’ve had the honor and privilege of representing the citizens of Portland, Michigan as Mayor since 2003.  My wife Denise and I moved to Portland in 1987 with our two-year old daughter Allison.  In 1988 our son Tom joined us.  Denise and I both grew up in small towns and that’s the atmosphere we were looking for to raise our family.  Like many couples who live in Portland, we were commuting to Lansing and Grand Rapids.  In fact, we were commuting in opposite directions.  Denise worked in Lansing and I worked in Grand Rapids.  Ironically, after a few years we switched and I was driving to Lansing and Denise would go to Grand Rapids.  These days we’re fortunate to be able to drive together as employees for the State of Michigan where we’ve worked for a combined 55 years.  We’re members of Portland St. Patrick Church.  And in December we became first-time grandparents. 

If you are from Portland, you are familiar with the sense of “Community” that exists here.  There are certainly some very common family names that dominate the school, church, and organizational rosters in Portland but as a family who moved here, we have never been made to feel like we were not part of the community.  We joke about moving here “just” 28 years ago and it’s true that many of the people living in Portland are descendants of the families that populated the region in the early 1800s, but any newcomers to Portland who want to be involved in the activities of the community are welcome.

If you’re not from Portland and you’re considering coming here, whether for a day-trip or to live, I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.  We have 9 miles of walking / biking trails that run along the banks of the Lookingglass River and the Grand River that come together in Portland’s downtown, hence the nickname “City of Two Rivers.”  There are acres of parks with playground and workout equipment.  The city-owned Board of Light and Power provides a reliable source of electricity for residential and commercial customers.  The Portland Main Street Program has achieved the master level designation from the State of Michigan’s Michigan Main Street Program.  Since 2003, the City has used the Main Street four-point approach to bring property owners, business owners, and residents together with the public sector for the betterment of the downtown and the community as a whole.

Thank you again for your interest in the City of Portland, Michigan’s website and if you’d like to meet with me and discuss “all things Portland”, please come to City Hall between 9:00 A.M. and 11:00 A.M. on the Saturday mornings following City Council meetings.          

Contact Us

  1. Mayor Barnes
    James E. Barnes


    Portland City Hall

    259 Kent Street
    Portland, MI 48875