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These are challenging times, and a smart leader with a wealth of experience should stay in office.

MetroThe choice for Metro District 6 is an easy one. That's because one of the candidate's campaign is garbage.

That's not an insult. It's a description. Leigha LaFleur, a patent agent who is challenging incumbent Bob Stacey, had the clearest explanation of anyone we interviewed about why she was running for the specific office she was seeking. Stacey

"I'm passionate about garbage," she said, "and Metro does that."

Indeed, it does. Among the regional government's many responsibilities is managing the solid waste generated in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. And LaFluer makes a strong case that it could be doing a better job.

"When China stopped taking our recycling, it made it clear that we have a problem."

LaFleur knows a lot about the region's solid waste and has some strong views on how we should handle plastics.

She can stop her trash-talking to weigh in on homelessness and congestion, but she's in this race to talk about ways we can ensure future generations will inherit a region they will want to live in.

We applaud her for that, but it's not a good enough reason for voters to make a change in this district, which includes parts of Northeast, Southeast and Southwest Portland.

Stacey was elected to the council in 2012 after serving as Portland's planning director and holding a similar post with TriMet. He also served as executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon, a state land-use advocacy group. A graduate of Reed College and the University of Oregon Law School, Stacey can sometimes seem scary-smart, but also is approachable and self-effacing.

He readily conceding that LaFleur had taught him some things about plastic recycling and agreed with her that it must remain a priority for the agency.

But Metro's mission goes beyond garbage, and Stacey over the past eight years has played a big role in planning for regional parks and natural areas, crafting the transportation package and addressing the lack of affordable housing.

Stacey has brought a keen eye and a wealth of experience to the Metro leadership. We see no reason to rob the region of that leadership during these tough times.

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