TriMet cancels Dec. 30 board meeting about replacing its general manager
The TriMet Board of Directors has canceled a special meeting it scheduled for Wednesday to discuss how to replace General Manager Doug Kelsey, who had announced he is retiring when his contract ends in March 2021.
TriMet has said it will conduct an international search for the next general manager. The Dec. 30 meeting was canceled after the board received letters from elected officials and advocacy groups in the region asking for more community involvement in the selection process.
"The president and vice president of the board have asked for more time to connect with public stakeholders and review the general manager job description in light of that input before considering the resolution to approve it," TriMet said in a Monday, Dec. 28, press release.
Although no new date for the meeting has been announced, the release said TriMet expects the position to be filled this coming spring.
One letter sent to the board was signed by state and local elected officials representing legislative districts, counties and cities within TriMet's boundaries. Another letter was signed by nearly two dozen advocacy organizations, ranging from the Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates to the Urban Greenspaces Institute.
The letters said TriMet's next general manager must be qualified to lead the agency to address a wide range of issues. For example, the elected officials said they include:
• Effectively connecting people to jobs, education and medical care;
• Addressing racial equity within the TriMet system to ensure that all users,
particularly people of color, benefit from our region's transit network;
• Meeting our regional climate goals;
• Powering our region's economic recovery; and
• Providing affordable housing and job options.
"We desperately need fresh, new leadership from TriMet with a clear vision to proactively champion transit as an essential ingredient to addressing our region's growing inequality, carbon emissions and as a job creator to tackle the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic," read the letter from the advocacy organizations.
Kelsey announced his retirement after voters defeated a Metro regional transportation funding measure in the November general election that would have helped finance a new MAX light rail line between Portland, Tigard and Bridgeport Village. Metro President Lynn Peterson has said the elected regional government will not submit another such measure to voters until 2022, at the soonest.
The letter from the elected officials can be found here.
The letter from the special interest groups can be found here.
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