Metro Council President Lynn Peterson leads early returns

Chairman of the Metro Board Lynn Peterson is leading in snap election results in his bid to win a second term as head of the regional government that oversees land use in the Portland area. A win would put her in a position to help decide the shape and size of the region’s biggest impending infrastructure project: a new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River.

“I’m really happy with the numbers and will be watching the late ballots in hopes that this margin holds,” Peterson said around 9 p.m. Tuesday. At the time, Peterson held significant leads in Multnomah and Washington counties, but that was before Clackamas County had released results in the race.

“It’s truly a validation of our work at Metro to help the region address the housing and homelessness crisis, by cleaning up our streets and sidewalks and investing in our parks, open spaces and quality. life,” Peterson said.

Peterson’s first term was marked by an increase in homelessness and an increase in traffic – and two major elections involving Metro measures to address both of these challenges.

Lynn Peterson

Courtesy of Lynn Peterson for Metro President

In May 2020, voters in Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties agreed to tax the region’s wealthiest residents to pay for more affordable housing and services to help homeless people. The tax is expected to generate $2.5 billion over 10 years.

A few months later, Peterson asked voters to approve the biggest tax measure in state history: Measure 26-218, a $7 billion payroll tax-funded transportation program. They firmly rejected this proposal.

Both of these measures put Peterson at odds with many of the region’s most influential companies and business leaders. A coalition of business groups spent $2 million to help defeat the transportation package. And a nonprofit called People for Portland is trying to put a measure on the November ballot that would divert most of the money from the affordable housing measure to temporary shelters; it would also require communities receiving money from the new tax to enforce any existing anti-camping laws.

Still, Peterson faced minimal opposition during his re-election campaign. His opponents included Alisa Pyszka, an urban and economic development planner, which has won endorsements from The Oregonian and Pamplin Media. Pyszka had said Metro needed to seek more public-private partnerships to spur the region’s recovery and create more housing. She also suggested Metro work with the private sector and other local governments to find common ground between building long-term affordable housing — a process that takes time — and more temporary solutions. Pyszka did not respond to OPB’s request for comment Tuesday night.

The biggest item on Peterson’s second term agenda, along with the area’s housing crisis, is to help lead efforts to replace the aging I-5 bridge. Previous negotiations to replace the bridge died when Washington state leaders walked away from their opposition to installing light rail on the new span. The staff working on the new replacement plan recommended the light rail on the latest version.

“How do we want to move forward with transportation investments in our region for the future, not just for climate change, but with a racial equity lens,” Peterson said Tuesday. “We have a lot of big problems ahead, but this council will be able to meet those challenges and put us back on the map to be an innovative region that really cares about our people and the affordability of this region for the future. .”

Although not as large as the Portland City Council or the county councils of Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas, Metro oversees a wide range of public services beyond land use, including garbage and recycling, the Oregon Zoo and Oregon Convention Center and a network of parks and natural areas.

In other Metro Council races, the holder Christine Lewis appeared to be heading for easy re-election in District 2, which represents Lake Oswego, Milwaukie and Oregon City. In District 6, which includes Southeast and Southwest Portland, the incumbent Duncan Hwang ahead of Terri Preeg Riggsby, according to the first feedback. In District 4, which includes northern and western Washington County, the incumbent Juan Carlos Gonzalez had a lead over James Ball.

This is a developing story. Watch for updates.