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Make the right choice at Metro

The Metro Council has an important opportunity to reshape itself this week and become more focused on the people of this region, and less so on ideology. This might appear to be a risky change for Metro’s councilors, many of whom are issue-driven people. They care passionately about heady issues such as managing land use and the consequences of urban growth, transportation investments, sustainability, recycling, waste management, and protecting and investing in the environment. But to be increasingly relevant, the Metro Council must become more people-oriented than it has been in the past. That opportunity occurs this week as the council decides who should fill the vacant Metro seat held by Brian Newman, who resigned to work for Oregon Health and Science University. The District 2 position represents the urban areas of Clackamas County and a small portion of Portland. The council’s choice will serve through December 2008 and will be eligible to run for a four-year term in the 2008 election. Council has solid candidates We suspect the Metro Council was surprised when 11 people applied for the position, which requires almost full-time work for part-time pay. The initial group was narrowed to six candidates last week, and the candidates will debate at 4 p.m. today at Metro. The Metro Council probably will select a finalist Thursday. In the running are Hal Busch, a businessman who has been active in Gladstone city government; Eric Carlson, a retired legislative policy analyst who has been involved in Lake Oswego schools; Carlotta Collette, a public relations executive and member of the Milwaukie City Council; Dennis Derby, a Southeast Portland resident, developer and member of the Land Conservation and Development Commission; Mike Gates, a business person and member of the West Linn City Council; and Sue Marshall, of Lake Oswego, who has served as the executive of a legislative committee and the Tualatin Riverkeepers. These folks are worthy candidates. But to make the best selection, the Metro Council should first establish criteria to guide its decision-making and allow the new councilor to best connect the people of Clackamas County to Metro. In arriving at its final choice, the Metro Council should give preference to: A candidate who understands and will best represent the needs and issues confronting Clackamas County and its citizens. A person who can connect and engage Clackamas County with the rest of the metro area. A person who has a track record of success and can lead discussions and processes that advance solutions. A candidate who has made decisions that have been observed publicly. A person who can effectively collaborate and, when needed, disagree without being disagreeable. A candidate who believes that Metro’s primary job is not to legislate restrictions but to consider and implement regional investments in partnership with local cities and counties. A person who embraces and engages everyday citizens along with diverse special interest groups. A candidate who helps build coalitions and communities of people, not ideologies. A candidate who will be publicly accountable and whose decisions and actions will be transparent. Using a list of such essential requirements will help guide the Metro Council in selecting a person who can best represent Clackamas County and its citizens, while serving as a leader and investor in a better region.