Second term will be “laser focused on regional coordination and action to address housing and homelessness, create family wage jobs, protect our parks, forests and water, and invest in a safe, equitable and climate-centered transportation future.”
LAKE OSWEGO – Metro Council President Lynn Peterson today announced her campaign for re-election to the nation’s only elected regional government. Peterson, an engineer and former Clackamas County Chair, has helped lead Metro over the past three years into a larger role in regional policy and implementation, reflecting the needs of a growing and changing Portland metropolitan area.
“Our fast-growing region faces different challenges now than when Metro was first established 50 years ago,” said Peterson. “Land use and transportation planning, parks and open space management, and other core functions of our agency remain critical, but we must also play a critical convening, coordination, and funding role in addressing the housing and homelessness crisis, preparing our communities for the realities and impacts of climate change, investing in our aging infrastructure, and assisting in an economic recovery for our region that is equitable and sustainable for all.”
“Regional equity, opportunity, and sustainability are touchstones for our work as we move forward into the next four years at Metro. Those values must be a part of everything we do to build communities we all deserve,” said Peterson.
Affordable housing and homelessness services are among the areas where Peterson has focused Metro engagement, recognizing the need for true regional engagement and investment.
“In just three years, the voters have approved the investment of millions in construction of affordable housing, and Metro is delivering. We are on our way to providing almost double the number of secure, quality homes for thousands of low-income and struggling families, seniors, and other vulnerable populations,” said Peterson. “We sought and passed a second measure to engage directly with our county level partners to fund and bring to scale direct outreach and services to a homeless population that has grown during this pandemic, and stepped up to provide emergency shelter at Metro facilities to help ease the burden on Oregon’s emergency housing network.”
The management of more than 18,000 acres of parks and open spaces in the Portland region have long been under the Metro umbrella, with a new emphasis under Peterson’s leadership to better incorporate racial equity and access, as well as climate resiliency.
“The planning and land use foundation of our region was rooted in racial inequality, something we cannot change overnight or in a single ballot measure. But we can and have worked to address those inequities,” said Peterson. “Our last parks measure not only provided neighborhood and community level funding for purchase and improvements in historically underserved areas, but also expanded programs and outreach in communities of color. We are continuing this work with our next round of parks and open space investments.”
Peterson’s emphasis on environmental protection and advancing racial equity also has resulted in a significant change to Metro’s public garbage pickup program. Under Peterson’s leadership, the program has shifted away from using incarcerated labor and is now working as a job training program for people who have exited the carceral system. Since that change was put into place, Metro’s monthly garbage pickup rate has tripled.
“By creating a job training program, we can help people build a strong foundation for success while also having flexible teams that can address our region’s most important challenges,” Peterson said. “The program may start with cleaning up the region’s open spaces of dumped garbage. I want to see it evolve to teach other skills, like environmental preservation and restoration, while ensuring its participants have the stability they need to succeed.”
This year’s historic heat wave, part of the warming of the planet due to carbon emissions, have demonstrated the importance of regional approaches to new challenges, Peterson said.
“From continuing to purchase and protect fragile watersheds and forest land, to making sure frontline communities have urban tree cover to avoid ‘heat islands’ during summer months, Metro’s longstanding commitment to the air, water, and environmental integrity of our region is more critical than ever,” said Peterson. “But to truly prepare for the uncertainties and impacts of climate change, we must address our built environment as well. That starts with transportation and converting to low- and zero-carbon solutions. In 2020, we had fires that singed the edges of the Metro area and choked our air with smoke. In 2021, our temperatures soared to once-unthinkable levels. These aren’t anomalies. They are wake-up calls for our region to rethink and take real action to allow all our people and places and economy to become more resilient.”
While the pandemic and its impacts on the region’s public health and economy have overshadowed much of the year, Peterson is proud of the role Metro has played in helping with regional coordination and care, while recognizing the sacrifices made by many Metro employees.
“As managers of large and important regional facilities, Metro has been proud to work with partners in public health and human services to expand access to shelter, testing, and vaccinations,” said Peterson. “At the same time, the impacts of the pandemic on our Convention Center, performance spaces, the Expo Center and other Metro facilities has been devastating, not only to the regional economy as we lose events and public gatherings, but the hard working Metro staff and others who manage these venues. We cannot wait to fully reopen and serve this region once again as a driver of economic activity and cultural celebration.”
Peterson is launching her campaign with the endorsement and support of mayors, city councilors, county-level officials, unions, business leaders, and advocates for equity and justice. She is planning a kickoff on September 22 with a virtual gathering of supporters, friends, and family.
“I’m excited to continue this important work and help shape not only the future of Metro, but the future of our growing, diverse region,” said Peterson. “We have a lot of important work to do, and I am grateful for the support of my campaign as we get started, and the opportunity to continue to serve the people of this region.”