Every day, people in Forest Grove and all across our region travel across local boundaries to live, work and enjoy all the things that make our region a great place to live.

Roads, rivers, streams, air, people — and our economy — don’t stop at city or county boundaries. We all benefit from these important public structures and systems, which are the foundation of our prosperity and our way of life. That’s why it simply makes sense to plan them at a regional scale.

I ran for the Metro Council in 2006 to help increase access to good jobs and a range of housing choices in the western part of our region, and to ensure our community has an effective voice at the regional table. Since I’ve been on the Metro Council, I’ve enjoyed visiting with communities across my district and learning about their aspirations for the future.

Metro protects farms and forests and invests in communities such as Forest Grove and Cornelius, makes it easier to get from place to place and to get rid of your waste. You can play at dozens of regional parks and natural areas that protect our air, water and wildlife habitat. Metro also helps you be a tourist in your own region by managing destinations like the Oregon Zoo, the Portland-5 theaters and the Oregon Convention Center.

The people of Forest Grove know what they want for the future — a place with safe neighborhoods, a vibrant business district and good jobs now and in the future. I’m proud Metro works with communities all around the region to manage growth and help protect and support what makes them special.

As an elected representative for the area, I want to help the community achieve that vision. I’m working hard to ensure Metro understands the needs of your community and how best to help create good jobs to go with your terrific neighborhoods. Metro has supported Pacific University housing, city planning, industrial land development and park land acquisition and more in and near Forest Grove. But most importantly, Metro helps connect Forest Grove and Cornelius to the rest of our region.

My colleagues and I are working to update our region’s transportation plan — the key to connecting Forest Grove and Cornelius to points west, east, north and south. And we’re looking at all the latest data to determine how to manage our urban growth boundary so we can provide good jobs in each city while also protecting our valuable farms and forests.

The entire Metro Council is excited to meet at the Forest Grove Community Auditorium at 5 p.m. Feb. 25. Please come and visit with us. Whether you trace your Oregon roots five generations or moved to Forest Grove last week, you have your own reasons for loving this place — and Metro wants to keep it that way.

Metro — along with our statewide system of land use protections — helps ensure everyone in our region has a voice about how we manage our growing population while protecting our farm and forest land, our existing towns and cities, and our ability to make a living.

I’m impressed with the level of civic engagement in our area, and I look forward to continuing a conversation with you about the future of your community.

Kathryn Harrington is a Metro council member.

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