Only engineer on state transportation commission resigns
SALEM — State Transportation Commissioner Paula Brown, the only engineer on the Oregon Transportation Commission, has resigned her position less than halfway through her first term.
Brown, who was appointed by Gov. Kate Brown in November 2016, said she is leaving the commission because of work and family obligations.
The volunteer transportation commissioner recently accepted a paid full-time position as public works director for the City of Ashland, where she lives, and her elderly father recently moved in with her from Hawaii, she said in a phone interview Friday with the Pamplin/EO Capital Bureau.
"It was not an easy decision for me," Brown said. "I take my responsibilities very seriously, and I take my commitment to my city and my family just as seriously, so it was a tough decision."
She notified the Governor's Office in a resignation letter sent Friday morning. Her resignation was effective immediately.
"I sincerely appreciate the honor and privilege of serving Oregon," she wrote. "I am gratified with the ability to have (helped) to shape ODOT's policies and strategic direction over the past 15 months."
The governor is seeking applications for Brown's position, but the next time the Senate can confirm a successor isn't until May during the assembly's interim "legislative days," said Bryan Hockaday, a governor's spokesman.
"Gov. Brown thanks Commissioner Brown for her leadership on OTC and service to the state of Oregon," Hockaday said.
Paula Brown had to travel from Ashland to Salem — a more than four-hour drive — the night before to make the meetings.
Her engineering background added an extra level of scrutiny to the transportation commission's oversight of the transportation department.
She said she appreciated Transportation Department Director Matt Garrett's willingness to be more open and accountable for agency actions, when the commission decided to take a more hands-on role in oversight in the past year. Part of the scrutiny of the department stemmed from legislation last year to fund $5.3 billion in transportation projects over the next several years.
"I have a high level of trust and confidence in Matt Garret and his management team, and I think they will fulfill the legislative requirements of House Bill 2017," said Brown, referring to the transportation-funding package.
Brown succeeded former Douglas County Commissioner Susan Morgan on the transportation commission after Morgan resigned to take a position as a lobbyist for the Oregon Association of Counties.
Brown and her husband, Patrick Flannery, own the Dana Campbell vineyards in Ashland. Brown has worked extensively on federal and local infrastructure projects and government contracting. She served as deputy chief of civil engineering at Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Washington, D.C., from October 2013 to September 2016. Before that, she worked at the U.S. Navy First Naval Construction Division in Norfolk, Virginia, from October 2010 to September 2013, and served previously as the public works director for the City of Ashland from June 1997 to December 2008. She also worked at the Rogue Valley Council of Governments from fall 1993 until June 1997.