In 1979, the voters in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan region made history when they approved the creation of an elected regional government to provide regional services the Metropolitan Service District. The voters did it again in 1992, when they passed a home rule charter that began:
We, the people of the Portland area metropolitan service district, in order to establish an elected, visible and accountable regional government that is responsive to the citizens of the region and works cooperatively with our local governments; that undertakes, as its most important service, planning and policy making to preserve and enhance the quality of life and the environment for ourselves and future generations; and that provides regional services needed and desired by the citizens in an efficient and effective manner, do ordain this charter for the Portland area metropolitan service district, to be known as Metro.
Within Metros boundaries are about 1.4 million people, 24 cities and parts of three counties. It includes the Oregon (but not Washington) portion of the Portland metropolitan area.
Under state law and its home rule charter, Metros primary responsibility is regional land use and transportation planning. It has adopted, and is implementing, regional planning goals and a regional framework plan that address everything from the urban growth boundary and housing affordability to transportation and natural resources protection. Metro acts as the Metropolitan Planning Organization for Federal transportation funding and project.
Metro is governed by a Council. The Metro Council has a President, elected region-wide and six Council positions, elected by district. I am running from District 6.
For the time being, Metro is the only popularly-elected, multi-jurisdictional regional government in the United States. But I hope and expect that if we can make Metro a success here, other regions will be inspired to develop their own elected regional governments.
© 2007 Robert Liberty for Metro. 3431 SE Tibbetts, Portland OR 97202. 503-227-4379.