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Tualatin man files for Metro Council position

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comments from incumbent Metro Councilor Craig Dirksen


A Tualatin man has filed to run for a seat on the Metro Council, and will face off against an incumbent and former Tigard mayor.

Gerritt Rosenthal filed on Monday for seat on the council representing Metro's District 3, which includes portions of Washington and Clackamas counties and the cities of Beaverton, Durham, King City, Sherwood, Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville.

Rosenthal's filing information has not yet been posted to the Multnomah County Election Office’s website.

Metro, the regional government, is the only elected regional government in the country. Councilors serve four-year terms and are responsible for managing the region’s solid waste system, planning for city growth and overseeing the Oregon Zoo.

Rosenthal is challenging Craig Dirksen, Tigard’s longest serving mayor who left office to run for Metro in 2012.

Dirksen is running for his second term on the Council.

Rosenthal said he wanted to serve on the Metro council because of his previous work experience.

“Metro deals with a handful of things: Solid waste, land use planning, parks and transportation,” he said.

An environmental consultant, Rosenthal said he has worked on solid waste, land use planning, parks and transportation projects in his career.”

“I have the practical experience for all of the basic things Metro does,” he said. “Other than managing the zoo, I can’t say that I’ve done that.”

Rosenthal has another connection to Metro’s regional work. Rosenthal has lived in the Stafford area of Tualatin for 23 years. The mostly rural area has long been considered for development.

“There are a lot of complex land issues surrounding my area of town,” he said. “That idea has been laid to rest for the moment, but who knows, depending on what the economy does and the influx of people, we could be dealing with that going forward.”

Rosenthal has been on the ballot before ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Oregon House of Representatives in 2014, but lost to incumbent Republican Julie Parrish.

Rosenthal ran for the same Legislative seat in 2010 but failed to get past the primary.

If elected, Rosenthal said he’d like to continue work to promote the area’s parks and open spaces.

“I’d like better parks and bicycle connectivity in the southern area,” he said. “We have parks along the Willamette, to Willamette Falls, to the wildlife refuge and the Tualatin River greenway that I’d like to see connected.”

But the biggest issue facing Metro in the Tigard, Tualatin area is transportation, Rosenthal said.

“How do we get people from Point A to Point B?” he said. “Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, they are the nexus of labor employment in our area, but most of the people who work there don’t live there.”

The Southwest Corridor plan — a year’s-long plan to bring a MAX light-rail or rapid bus line from Portland to Tualatin, is plugging along, but Rosenthal said he’d like to see the project move quicker.

“It’s moving too slowly,” he said. “By the time anything gets built, we’ll have another 10 years more gridlock to deal with.”

Voters will have the final say over the Metro Council seat on May 17.

Dirksen says transportation issues will be key part of next term

Rosenthal's filing will be the first challenger Dirksen has had since coming to Metro four years ago. Dirksen ran unopposed for his seat in 2012.

Dirksen served as the mayor of Tigard for a decade, and faced little serious competition, but Dirksen said he's looking forward to a challenger in the race, because running unopposed to surprisingly difficult.

Metro Councilor Craig Dirksen"I typically run a low key campaign, but franky when I was running for Metro the first time not having challenger made it difficult to get the message out and introduce myself to the distrct. Tigard knew me but the rest of district didn’t and there werent many organizations interested in hearing about it."

Dirksen said that will change now that the race has more than one candidate.

"While this makes my life a bit more complicated for the next few months, it actually creates an opportunity to get the message out and talk about the issues."

Dirksen said he's running for a second term because he has more work to do.

"The job's not done," he said. "I’m big on transportation and we've made some headway with that. We have at least a not-lousy federal transportation package and we've finally gotten the ear of the legislature. We have to keep the pressue on to get the funds we need to do improvements we need to do."

Dirksen said that transportation needs are going to be a key part of Metro's work over the next several years.

"What we need — and what we don’t have — is a complete transportation system," Dirksen said. "We need to make the investments to complete it. The rise of congestion as the economy has improved proves that we need upgrades all around. Our freeway system has never been completed, the transit system is partly done. That all needs to be completed so that it can get us all around."

Candidates have until March 8 to file for the March 17 election.

By Geoff Pursinger
Assistant Editor, The Times
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