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Metro race will air vital issues

Our Opinion

We applaud former Hillsboro Mayor Tom Hughes' decision to campaign for Metro president in the 2010 election. But before anyone grumbles and suggests we are providing an early endorsement of Hughes to replace David Bragdon, hold on.

We also welcome the previous decisions by Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder and Bob Stacey, former executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon, to run for the same office.

Burkholder, Hughes and Stacey are doing something we admire: putting themselves and their ideas before voters and saying 'consider me.' That's no easy thing to do. Running for office comes with great sacrifice of time and privacy, and with great risk.

Hughes' entry into the race guarantees a vibrant, complete and geographically broad conversation about the issues facing the region as it prepares to accommodate 1 million more residents during the next 20 years. The campaign also should provide a forum to debate the role of Metro and its partnership with local cities and counties as they grapple with essential issues. Among these concerns are: infrastructure funding, transportation, regional environmental policies, waste management and regional facilities such as the Oregon Zoo and Convention Center. The discussion also should focus on what role Metro has in shaping the region's economy and the region's connection to other communities, including Clark County, Wash.

Stacey and Burkholder certainly would not have ignored these topics. But both live in inner Portland and seemingly share many similar policy viewpoints. Hughes will offer a suburban perspective and, we think, more frequent attention to economic issues.

The Metro race will be expensive. Hughes starts the campaign already lagging. Earlier this month, Stacey reported more than $51,000 in contributions and Burkholder more than $77,500. But the cause of informing voters is worth it.

Again, we congratulate Burkholder, Hughes and Stacey. The three candidates offer virtual assurance that the many issues facing the region will be discussed and debated - and that voters will have ample and differing views from which to consider and determine their ballot choice.