Our Opinion

Everyone running for public office is talking about the need for jobs in a state with an exceptionally high unemployment rate. To give Oregon and the Portland area the best chance to succeed economically, voters should select those candidates who offer specific economic plans and have a demonstrated track record of fostering a public-sector environment that encourages job creation by the private sector.

Former Hillsboro Mayor Tom Hughes is such a candidate, and for that reason - and many others - voters should elect him to be the next president of the Metro regional government.

While he was mayor of Hillsboro, Hughes used his position and ample leadership skills to help recruit, retain and encourage high-quality industries.

At the same time, as a policy maker he joined with other local, regional and even state leaders to address matters such as community livability, land use, environmental protection, housing and transportation services. In fact, as mayor of Hillsboro he ably performed many of the same leadership functions he would be expected to fulfill as Metro president.

Higher levels of leadership needed

This is an essential time for the Portland region. Growth during the next 40 to 50 years will bring about 1 million people and 600,000 jobs to the region. Investments in infrastructure, new and in-fill housing, economic development, environmental protection and the aspirations of the 25 cities in the region will require even higher levels of leadership and partnership from Metro.

The future also will require listening skills, collaboration among public and private sector partners and improved engagement of citizens.

Hughes has those skills. He has an ever-deepening knowledge of the intricate issues confronting the Portland area. During this campaign, he also has expanded his network of potential partners and has won the support of many of the mayors and other key regional leaders.

Hughes, a former high school teacher, understands that the next Metro president must be an advocate for economic development who can help alter the impression that businesses aren't welcome here.

Hughes has a worthy opponent in Bob Stacey, the former executive director of 1,000 Friends of Oregon who also has substantial experience working as a key staffer in Congress, state government and for the city of Portland.

Stacey is well-versed and very comfortable discussing regional issues. In public gatherings, he argues that he is a well-suited champion for the economy and for building regional cooperation. Yet, his campaign website and election e-mails oftentimes utilize terms that pit people and issues against each other.

Maybe it's about getting elected. But instead of using inflammatory catchwords such as 'sprawl,' we would prefer that Stacey applaud the region's success in growth management and inspire it to be even better in the future.

As such, we think that Stacey remains best suited not as Metro's president, but as a gifted advocate for the land-use and planning causes he has championed for many years.

The regional broker

Metro's next president must be an objective broker of regional decisions and a convener of varied community and private sector leaders and interests.

Given the region's complex future, Metro will require effective leadership and nimbleness to deal with regional transportation planning, growth management, administration of regional parks and open spaces and oversight of selected services such as solid waste disposal, the Oregon Zoo and the Oregon Convention Center.

We believe Tom Hughes is best equipped to lead an organization with such a diverse and important portfolio. Voters should support him in the Nov. 2 election.

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