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Craig Dirksen wins Metro election

Election for new mayor could be held to fill the rest of Dirksen's term

Running unopposed for a seat at Metro, Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen easily won Tuesday night's primary election, claiming the job of term-limited councilor Carl Hosticka.

Unofficial results released Tuesday night showed Dirksen received 98 percent of the vote.Dirksen, who ran unopposed, needed more than 50 percent to win.

'Being (mayor) is special and having been the mayor of a great city like Tigard has been a great experience, and I am going to miss it,' Dirksen told The Times Wednesday morning. 'Moving to Metro is a good step for me and for the region. I have a lot to offer still, and I hope we can accomplish a lot in the next for years.'

Without other candidates to run against, the mayor ran a low-key campaign for District 3 on the Metro Council.

As the Portland-area's regional government, Metro oversees land-use and transportation planning in Portland and the suburbs, as well as operates the Oregon Zoo.

Metro District 3 represents Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, Durham, King City, Wilsonville and parts of Beaverton.

'I'll still be around,' Dirksen said. 'I'll be thinking about Tigard's interests and how they coordinate with the rest of the region. One of the things you learn as mayor is that there are lots of times when you have to work together and work on regional issues. You can't think only within your own boundaries.'

A transportation advocate, Dirksen was elected to his second full-term as mayor in 2010. His current term doesn't end until 2014.

Dirksen doesn't officially start at Metro until January, and has said he will continue to serve as mayor until then, giving city planners seven months to decide the best course of action to fill his seat.

Now it's up to the City Council to decide what to do until the mayor's term ends more than two years from now.

'The city charter is pretty open on this,' Dirksen said.

Officially, the council can't take any action until the election's results are certified, which won't happen until June, but have a handful of options for dealing with the vacant position.

The council could decide to run without a mayor until the term ends or appoint someone to fill the remainder of the mayor's term.

The City Council could also hold a special election later this year, either in September or November and let voters decide who the next mayor should be.

City Council President Gretchen Buehner said while she is leaning toward hosting a special election, the decision will rest with the entire council.

'This council has tried to be as inclusive as possible,' she said. 'I would say it's up to what (the majority) agrees to. All the options are out there, so we will have to see.'

A special election in November wouldn't cost the city any money since it falls during the state's general election. An election at any other time (either in September or later in 2013) would cost the city about $38,000.

Dirksen has supported that option, saying the term is too long to appoint someone.

'We have between now and the general election in November to coordinate and assemble a special election,' Dirksen said. 'There's no supportable reason to not do a special election and allow the city to have a mayor-elect when I have to resign in December. The provisions for running shorthanded or appointing someone, I think, is based on the assumption that there wouldn't be time for a special election. There isn't any way to justify to people to not do special election.'

So far three people have announced they will run for the position if given the chance.

Current city councilors Marland Henderson and Nick Wilson have both expressed interest in the job, as well as longtime Tigard resident John L. Cook.

Wilson and Henderson are up for re-election this year.

Cook, a certified public account, has said he has thought about running for mayor for years. Cook Park near Tigard High School is named after his father, John Cook, Sr., who served as mayor in the 1980s.

The council could make its decision as early as a month from now, Buehner said.