Cities seek unified voice with countywide committee
A proposal is coming to fruition to bring together city leaders from throughout Multnomah County to work on mutual issues and speak with a unified voice.
Fairview Mayor Mike Weatherby, who has pushed for the creation of a Multnomah County Coordinating Committee for more than a year, said Wednesday that most Multnomah County mayors have agreed to join the committee, which is planning its first meeting.
Inspired by similar committees in Washington and Clackamas counties, Weatherby said the Multnomah County Coordinating Committee would allow officials to formally meet and work as a bloc to push for countywide interests.
For example, the committee could compete for Metro Regional Government transportation dollars, or support each other on major transportation projects.
'It opens the door for all sorts of possibilities on what we can accomplish,' Weatherby said. 'It's a place where everyone sits down and has a conversation.'
As now planned, the committee will involve the mayors of Gresham, Fairview, Troutdale, Wood Village and Maywood Park, as well as each city's councilors. Representatives from Multnomah County, the Oregon Department of Transportation, TriMet and the Port of Portland also would participate.
Meetings would be open to the public. Fairview has offered to host the meetings and handle the clerical work.
Portland city officials have been invited to join but have not made a definite commitment, Weatherby said.
No votes will be taken. Instead, officials will work toward consensus.
Now the next step is to schedule the committee's first meeting, which Weatherby acknowledges may be difficult given the complex schedules of city officials, most of whom are unpaid volunteers.
'I'm hoping April. It may be as long as May,' Weatherby said. 'It's just a matter of when we can get it done.'
Weatherby also is pushing for the reestablishment of a Four-City Leadership group, where mayors and city councilors from the East County cities would meet to talk about local and regional issues. The invitation also is open for Damascus to join, he said.
Weatherby said a four-city group met before, but ceased a few years ago, largely because it lacked a clear focus.
'I would really like to give it a go again because there's a definite need for a tool for us to connect,' Weatherby said.
Aside from a few regional groups, such as a metro-area mayors group recently formed by Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden, Weatherby said East County's mayors do not regularly gather under one roof.
Troutdale Mayor Jim Kight said the Multnomah County Coordinating Committee and the Four-City Leadership group idea have merit. Kight said he hopes city leaders will be able to find common ground and jointly advocate on land-use and transportation issues.
So far, the Fairview City Council has voted in support of the idea. Weatherby said he's waiting to see what the level of support is from the other city councils.