[Phew! Putting these endorsements together takes LOTS of hard work—and that's on top of our regular excellent reporting. Show your appreciation for the Mercury with a small contribution, please, and thank you!—eds]

Metro Council President

Lynn Peterson

The Portland Metro Council, whose reach extends over a three county region (Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas), has its fingers in a lot of pies—land use, environmental concerns, and transportation, as well as running such venues as the Oregon Convention Center, the Expo Center, Oregon Zoo, and more. When this same region is also in the middle of a housing and climate crisis, it becomes clear that their work is more important than ever. As such, the person overseeing such a sweeping venture should possess exceptional planning skills, deep institutional knowledge, and a humanistic approach to governing. And we think, in this election cycle, current Metro President Lynn Peterson continues to fit the bill.

Peterson was elected to the Metro president role in January 2019 with a big job ahead of her: implementing the voter-approved affordable housing bond tasked with creating 3,900 units of reasonably priced housing across the tri-county region. As of January of this year, and despite the constraints of a two-year pandemic, the project is well underway with 300 new units already built, and 2,700 more under construction, or in the design or permitting process. And despite what certain dark money lobbying groups might say, that’s substantial progress. Meanwhile, under Peterson’s leadership, the council has sought to make improvements to the region’s parks and recreation system with a lens toward equity, particularly in historically underserved areas. Metro has also been listening to community stakeholders and applying substantial pressure to the Interstate Bridge Replacement team—who are overseeing the construction of a new I-5 bridge at the Oregon/Washington border—insisting they include racial equity considerations as well as plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In our endorsement interview, Peterson seemed committed to staying true to these values—and applying them across the wide range of Metro interests. She stressed the importance of focusing on the affordable housing crisis (with an emphasis on homeless services and stopping evictions) and transportation plans which prioritize humans and their safety over moving freight. Her opponent Alisa Pyszka—the president of a local economic development consulting firm and an urban planner—believes that Metro is not meeting its potential and needs to be bringing “everyone to the table” when considering these weighty issues. Fair enough… though she mentioned developer Jordan Schnitzer and other local business leaders as the primary examples of those “missing” from the conversation. Reminder: These are the same wealthy individuals who have had the ear of local politicians and media outlets for decades, and are behind the recent obstructionist lobbying efforts of People for Portland. (But maybe paying for billboards across the city doesn’t count as having a voice at the table?)

While Pyszka is certainly a smart individual with some legitimate concerns, her inability to directly answer our questions while siding with wealthy lobbyists over those who have been historically shunned from important discussions left us with a bad taste in our mouths. Meanwhile, Peterson has been doing good work with the Metro Council, has a solid plan for the future, and deserves to be given the chance to bring those important projects to fruition. Vote for Lynn Peterson.

Metro Council, District 6

Duncan Hwang

Metro’s District 6 seat became suddenly available in late 2021 when longtime Metro Councilor Bob Stacey resigned mid-term amid growing health issues. After a short campaign and outpouring of support from local and state representatives, Metro Council appointed Duncan Hwang—associate director of the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO)—to the position in January.

We think Hwang should continue serving out the remainder of Stacey’s term, ending in 2024.

Hwang and fellow candidate Terri Preeg Riggsby are both excellent contenders who demonstrate deep knowledge of how housing, transportation, and land use policies shape the everyday experiences of Portlanders. Both have roots in community-focused organizations and have served on several Metro committees that give them a solid understanding of how Metro actually functions—something that’s not always common.

What sets Hwang apart—and earned him the Mercury’s endorsement—is his demonstrated experience successfully lobbying for transportation safety project funding. As a co-director of APANO, Hwang was a longtime advocate for transferring 82nd Avenue from state to city ownership so that the city could overhaul its design and make it safer. That feat was finally realized in 2021, which transportation leaders and regional politicians attributed to a mix of sustained community advocacy and having the right politicians in power at the right time. As the region continues to grapple with rising traffic deaths, Hwang is one of those politicians who can be in the right place at the right time to secure additional funding for safety projects in the region.

Hwang also has experience linking affordable housing to major public transportation projects, like the Outer Division Safety Project. As a community advocate, Hwang helped craft a community benefit agreement that required 100 units of affordable housing to be developed along SE Division’s upcoming frequent service bus line, and he pledged to do the same for the 82nd Avenue project. As Portland faces multiple housing, transportation, and social services crises, it’s crucial to have representatives who understand how to link solutions together to maximize the impact of the region’s investments.

Preeg Riggsby, however, would also bring a unique perspective to Metro Council. Living with a mobility disability gives Preeg Riggsby a valuable perspective on what it means to develop community spaces and services that are accessible to everyone—a perspective that’s lacking in seemingly most of Portland’s regional governments. We hope that Preeg Riggsby continues to bring an accessibility lens to her work on various Metro committees and Hwang uplifts those efforts in his position on the council.

Check out our other May 2022 endorsements here—and if you find them helpful, please consider appreciating our hard work with a small $$ tip!