Bob Stacey jumps into race for Metro President

T.A. Barnhart

Bob Stacey, former Executive Director 1000 Friends of Oregon, kicked off his campaign for Metro President at the Holocene on SE Morrison last night. With former Gov Barbara Roberts standing (and beaming) in the front row, former state Rep Greg Macpherson, uber-activist Steve Novick and a full house on hand, Stacey promised to give the voters of Metro a choice between wasteful, sprawl-ridden, developer-friendly policies; and leadership that fulfills Metro’s promise of keeping the area “the Greatest Place”.

BlueOregon contributor Leslie Carlson spoke first, telling why she believes Stacey is the best choice for Metro’s future:

It seemed like every leader was afraid to speak the truth about the Columbia River Crossing. Nobody wanted to stand up and say, We don’t just need to solve congestion; we need to solve gloal warming. We need to solve kids with asthma; we need a solution to congestion that includes solutions to all those other problems, not just building our way out of congestion. Bob was one of the first civic leaders, and now the first candidate, to actually say that.

Following Carlson was 1000 Friends of Oregon board member and winemaker Eric Lemelson. Of Stacey, Lemelson said

Bob Stacey has been an advocate, a policy expert, and above all, a behind-the-scenes visionary toiling in the fields of government, the private sector and the non-profit world for more than 3 decades. Bob’s vision for our region is a product of many years of persistent work, of an open-mindedness to new ideas and new approaches, of education, of deep thought, and above all, his love of and commitment to Portland and Oregon.

Stacey began by thanking a friend for his support, a friend whose farm and home are outside of Metro. What is important to his friend, he said, is that if his land is outside of Metro, then the Urban Growth Boundary will be continuing to protect rural lands such as his. Speaking of Metro’s plans for the future — Metro calls the overall plan “Building the Greatest Place” — Stacey stated that we already live in the greatest place that “our job … is to keep it that way and to make it better”. He spoke of growth and development being not a destructive but creative force. Of the expected 1 million new residents who’ll be moving into the region in the coming decades, he said “This is an opportunity … if we make the righ decisions, the right choices.”

Do we think it improves the quality of life to have community-supported agriculture, farmers markets on the weekends all around the region, and restaurants serving great local food and beverages? Then we have a choice. We can allow new development to pave over those farm fields that we rely on to grow that food, or we can permanently protect this close-in agricultural land.

Other choices include commercial developments are local, mixed-use and allow people easy walking access to shops and other amenities; affordable housing for first-time home buyers and seniors (as opposed to leaving the choice to developers who, as he noted, were only doing their job by making houses “just barely affordable”); mass transit that goes beyond light rail by including dedicated high-speed bus lanes that would connect more parts of the region for a “fraction of the cost of light rail”; and economic development that upgrades existing areas so that employers and jobs can grow where housing and mass transit already exist.

Do we think it would worsen our quality of life to see a 50% increase in driving across the Columbia River on I5, threatening North and Northeast Portland neighborhoods with massive increases in cut-through traffic, threatening the region with more on-wheel-dependent, low-density sprawl and threatening the planet with global warming pollution? Then we have a choice. We can continue to pretend that the emperor has $4.2 billion; we can just let the Depts of Transportation continue to spend tens of millions of dollars each year to reward justification for a 12-lane bridge; or we can say no to the Columbia River Crossing and restart the process of identifying cheaper, better alternatives that won’t build our way into even more congestion.

Steve Novick concluded the event by making a pitch for volunteers and contributions, appealing not so much for people to support Stacey as to prevent his own bodily demise at the hands of Liz Kaufman in the event of an inadequate response. After making a serious appeal (based on his reckoning that only 237 people in the area had ever heard of Metro, and most of them were in the room at that time), he concluded by not merely quoting Spinal Tap but by becoming the first one-man ST cover band: “You know what I want / You know what I need / Or maybe you don’t/ Do I have tell you everything? / Give me some money!”

Stacey faces current Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder for the position. Endorsing Stacey are Gov Barbara Roberts, Gov John Kitzhaber, AG John Kroger, Novick, former state Rep Greg Macpherson and Stacey’s farmer friend who lives outside of Metro so cannot vote for him anyway. (I should have checked earlier: Kroger has not endorsed anyone in this race. My apologies to him, Bob Stacey, Rex Burkholder and anyone else involved.)

The election will be in May 2010. You can learn more at

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    The embarrassment of the riches will be in full effect for this race. While I am supportive of Bob's candidacy, there's no bad choice in this race amongst the announced or rumored candidates.

    Bob, happy birthday and sorry I missed the event1

  • (Show?)

    I like Bob Stacey's position on the Columbia River Crossing and wish him well.

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    Bob Stacey is my homeboy.

  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)

    I'll admit freely to an appalling lack of knowledge about the Metro Council. Can someone give me a quick rundown on the Metro elections process, specifically for President? I thought Metro councilors were elected by geographical area and assumed the President was then chosen from amongst those elected. But it sounds like the President's seat is open to anyone from any area, correct? Can someone explain how this works or point me to an appropriate website?

    Thanks in advance for educating me on this.

  • Steve Wright (unverified)

    Sounds like Stacey just wants to do what Metro is doing already. Why would we want to kick out Rex Burkholder if everything Bob wants is already being done, much of it spearheaded by Rex for the last eight years?

  • Friz (unverified)

    Rep. Earl Blumenauer also endorsed Bob Stacey

    Go Bob!

  • Lord Beaverbrook (unverified)

    Definitely a welcome candidacy! The current leadership are completely unresponsive. I had a client, back in May, that wanted to take a lease out on some land, zoned for parks, and develop it as such, paying for the facilities out of his own pocket. The Parks guy couldn't be bothered to answer the letter.

    That should be a citizen audit procedure. Randomly try to donate things and see how often you are rebuffed. I remember, years ago, a company offering to bring the community gardens and parks websites into the 21st century, with online reservations- everything- and a middle manager nixing the idea as "it would upset my routine".

    Bob Stacey sounds like the cure for that!

  • Cafe Today (unverified)

    Stacey promised to give the voters of Metro a choice between wasteful, sprawl-ridden, developer-friendly policies; and leadership that fulfills Metro’s promise of keeping the area “the Greatest Place”.

    This is pretty misleading--Rex Burkholder is hardly in favor of "wasteful, sprawl-ridden, developer-friendly policies", and Burkholder is Stacey's main opponent here. Let's try to keep things fair in this discussion...

  • Unit (unverified)

    Stacey is a good candidate, but I agree that he just supports everything Rex has been championing for the last 8 years. The exception is probably the CRC, but that ship is already changing course anyway.

    Why trade in an effective progressive leader for a less-experienced one? Stacey should run for Metro Council before jumping into the race for president.

  • Amanda (unverified)

    I would like to point out the Bob Stacey is not a "less experienced" progressive leader. Quite the opposite. A progressive leader need not be an elected progressive leader.

  • mike (unverified)

    A few questions for Mr. Stacey:

    1 What factual basis of the 1 million new residents and has that source had a good track record?

    1. Do you believe we need to shell out $$ for a convention center hotel or do you think that is a money loser and there are other reasons why we don't get conventions?

    2. Is giving large amounts of $$ to a millionaire for a team playing soccer a good use of money?

    3. Do you believe the drive to build condos, office towers and a tram on the s waterfront was a good idea? What of the glass condo towers and overpriced retail in the pearl or the concrete boxes blighting neighborhoods on Belmont, division and Hawthorne?

    4. Do you believe in giving people more choices about where to live/commute or do you hold that we all have to give up cars and single-family homes with yards?

    5. Do you believe in public participation or do you believe the PSU urban planning dept/PDC mafia know best and we should just suck it up and be grateful we are led by such visionaries?

  • Blue Ora, the true BO (unverified)

    ummm...there were some good points/questions here. Does anyone on BO ever make a responsive post, that isn't a flame? Ms. Mel, the Beav, mike, amanda all have good points/question that are more worthy of an answer than vapid assertions about the performance of the current Metro!

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    <h2>Mel, Metro President is elected by the voters, region-wide. This changed in 2002. Previously there were seven districts and they would annually choose a Chair from amongst the group.</h2>

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