Newman will trade his Metro post for OHSU job

by: Submitted, Brian Newman

Metro Councilor Brian Newman is resigning from the board of the elected regional government to take a planning job with Oregon Health and Science University.

Newman, 36, Lake Oswego, will leave the council Oct. 6 to become the new director of campus planning and development at OHSU, responsible for planning the new campus in the South Waterfront area and other development projects.

The South Waterfront campus is to be built on approximately 20 acres of land donated to the medical teaching school by the Schnitzer family.

'I'm going to miss serving on the Metro Council. It's the best job I've ever had. But I just couldn't pass up the career opportunity,' said Newman, a professional planner who works at the downtown Portland office of the Parsons Brinckerhoff planning firm.

Metro President David Bragdon said Newman will be missed on the council.

'Brian is very bright and brings a lot of energy to the issues,' Bragdon said.

The council will appoint an interim replacement for Newman. The District 2 seat represents most of urban Clackamas County and an adjoining portion of Southwest Portland in Multnomah County. The remaining two years of Newman's four-year term will be on next year's election ballot.

Before making the appointment, the council must advertise the coming vacancy for 30 days, accept applications for it and hold a public hearing in the district. The hearing could take place Oct. 25, when the council already is scheduled to meet in Oregon City, Bragdon said.

Newman began his political career by serving on the Milwaukie City Council from 2000 to 2002. He was first elected to Metro in November 2002 while living in Milwaukie and re-elected in November 2006 after moving to Lake Oswego.

Brag-don credited Newman with helping overcome opposition to regional planning efforts among some Clackamas County residents.

'Brian's connections in the community run very deep. He's really helped make the county and all its cities full partners in the planning process,' Bragdon said.

On the Metro Council, Newman has been a strong advocate for mixed-use developments along major transportation corridors, a major component of the agency's 2040 Concept for managing future growth.

Newman also has worked with TriMet, along with Portland, Milwaukie and other governments, to increase transit to Clackamas County.

His efforts have helped result in three new transit lines in the county that are either under construction or in the active planning stages. They include TriMet's new light-rail line along Interstate 205, the planned light-rail extension between downtown Portland and Milwaukie, and a new line between Portland and Lake Oswego.

Newman is co-chairing the committee working on the Portland-to-Lake Oswego line with Bragdon.

'When I was first elected to the council, there was no transit in Clackamas County. Now there are three projects,' Newman said.

Another priority for Newman was guiding the development of a master plan for the Oregon Zoo, which Metro manages. The new plan will be presented to the council the day before Newman steps down. He predicts it will place the zoo at the forefront of conservation issues.

Newman is leaving Metro at a critical time in the agency's history. It is currently engaged in the New Look review of its growth policies and updating the Regional Transportation Plan that governs where transportation funds are spent in most of the tricounty area. The Oregon Legislature also authorized Metro to create rural reserves to be protected from future development.

'We hope that whoever replaces Brian will take a cooperative approach to working for the future of the region,' said Lake Oswego Mayor Judie Hammerstad, who praised Newman as a visionary.

Newman said that he did not seek out the OHSU position, explaining that it was offered to him several weeks ago.

He called his decision-making process 'torturous,' but said that family considerations influenced his choice to take the job. Since being elected to the council, Newman has married, had a child and bought a home. He has worked only half-time at the planning firm because of his Metro duties, however.

'I have changed a lot in the last few years, and decided it was time to better provide for my family,' said Newman, who said he still is in salary negotiations with OHSU.

Bragdon predicted that Newman will continue to influence regional planning in his new capacity and may eventually seek elective office again.

'Brian has a very bright future. I don't think politics has seen the last of him,' Bragdon said.