Our Opinion

David Bragdon leaves the Portland area a better place than it was when he became president of the Metro regional government almost eight years ago.

As Metro's leader, Bragdon presided over an organization that shapes growth management, transportation policies, natural space priorities and waste-management practices. He is headed to New York City to serve as director of long-term planning and sustainability.

While in office here, Bragdon led a reformation of Metro, the regional government that had faced more than 20 years of instability. He championed efforts to adopt a $227 million bond measure to fund acquisition and preservation of the region's natural areas and open spaces.

From the start, Bragdon effectively built bridges of communication and cooperation among business leaders, special interest groups and local government officials. Within the past year, he brokered an agreement that helped avert what would have been a near-fatal collision over how the region planned for future urban and rural reserves.

Bragdon's legacy will be a hard one to match for Bob Stacey or Tom Hughes, the two candidates campaigning to replace him in the November general election.

Whoever is elected should use Bragdon's commitment to build cooperation among local elected leaders as a roadmap for success. The next president also should continue to require that Metro operate within its budget and emphasize quality in the delivery of services, such as the Oregon Zoo and waste management.

Either Hughes or Stacey will be faced with several thorny issues that Bragdon leaves unresolved: continued distrust separating some urban and suburban leaders, a final decision on a convention center hotel and a need to determine what Metro's role should be in promoting regional economic vitality.

Bragdon helped improve the Portland area in many extraordinary ways. We believe his successors should broaden their focus beyond the 'greatest place,' as Metro termed it, that Bragdon helped to make so much better. We believe it is time for Metro to expand its empathy for the people who live, work and play here.

After all, it is these people - not the place or the issues - that Metro is supposed to serve.

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