UPDATE: Check out this photo of David Bragdon shaking hands with the Mayor Bloomberg! David looks kind of scared. I would be, too, if I had to try to make friends with a man who likely swims in a pool of money each evening.

David Bragdon and the 8th richest man in the USA
  • David Bragdon and the 8th richest man in the USA

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David Bragdon, in a fen, circa 2009
  • Matt Davis
  • David Bragdon, in a fen, circa 2009
Portland is a city with a serious lack of experienced political leaders who are neither entering the old folks' home or tainted with scandal. So local politicos have been buzzing for months wondering what's going to happen to outgoing Metro President David Bragdon after his term is up this fall. Bragdon has somehow won respect for both solid policy ideas and good leadership skills despite eight years in office.

Most of the people I've talked with have floated two ideas:
1) He's going to run for mayor in 2012
2) He's going to become a consultant and make boatloads of money.

But the new very-exciting rumor from a solid source is that Bragdon is going to fly the Portland coop altogether to take a top job for the city of New York. The job Bragdon's reportedly got his eye on is the director of the office of long-term planning and sustainability. This would put Bragdon in charge of administering Plan NYC, the city's exciting plan to cut the city's impact on the environment by planting a million trees, promoting biking and pushing congestion pricing, among other ambitions.

I reached Bragdon for comment on Tuesday night and he would not say whether he was pursuing the job, but did confirm that he is currently in New York City and is meeting on Wednesday with the mayor's office.

Bragdon has roots in NYC, having grown up on the Upper East Side. In fact, Bragdon saw both the first and last games played at Shea Stadium.

UPDATE: It's official! Or, as Metro's press release says, "Bragdon will leave office four months early, capping legacy of sustainability and collaboration." Mayor Bloomberg has hired Bragdon away from Portland and is putting him in charge of the long term planning and sustainability office. When there's nowhere to advance in Portland, move to New York, right? Bragdon says this is his dream job, but it also means he'll be cutting out on his current job as Metro President on September 7th. That gives Metro just three weeks to find a new president. Cue freak out!

UPDATE 3:31 PM: Bragdon appointed current metro councilor Carlotta Colette will fill in as interim president, though the councilors could elect someone else after that. I doubt they will, though, unless Colette cuts out for NYC, too.

Bragdon's thoughts on the new job, plus what this means for Metro, below the cut.

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Bradgon, reached in New York, says he's been eyeing the job since it opened up last spring. I think the move is a good one, though definitely a loss for Portland. Though we're often a model of land use planning and smart transportation, NYC has a lot to teach us about acting quickly and boldly.

"New York City is doing things very decisively now.While we've been working on the bike agenda for longer, they've been working on it more quickly," says Bragdon. "It's a chance to work on the issues I care about in a really exciting city."

And as for leaving the city he's called home since the '70s? "I'm excited about the job opportunity, but I'm wistful about leaving Portland," he says.

So what will happen to the Metro President position? The remaining councilors can elect someone from their own ranks to be president or appoint someone who's a registered voter anywhere in the metro region. Anyone have any nominations? It would be pretty bittersweet if the coucilors elected Rex Burkholder, a current councilor or was knocked out of the race for Metro president last spring.