Four seek open seat in District 3 for Metro Council
Four candidates seek to succeed Craig Dirksen in the District 3 seat on the Metro Council, which oversees a variety of programs for the Portland metro area.
Dirksen, a former Tigard mayor and councilor, is leaving after two four-year terms from the district that takes in parts of Washington and Clackamas counties. The district includes part of Beaverton, plus Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, King City and Wilsonville.
The candidates for this nonpartisan office:
• Tom Anderson, a Tigard city councilor and real estate broker, who has received Dirksen's endorsement.
• Alison Balbag, a Beaverton city arts commissioner and gerontologist.
• Patricia Kepler of Aloha, an accessibility specialist for Portland Community College who serves on a related Metro committee.
• Gerritt Rosenthal of Tualatin, a retired environmental consultant, who ran against Dirksen in 2016.
If a candidate wins a majority in the May 19 primary, that candidate is elected. Otherwise, the top two finishers advance to the general election Nov. 3.
There are six council members, elected by districts, each paid about $40,000 — one-third of a circuit judge's salary. The Metro Council president is elected by all the voters in the Metro district — which covers urban areas of Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties — and is paid the same as a circuit judge.
A brief profile of each candidate:
Tom Anderson, 58, is owner and principal broker of Tigard Real Estate. He earned a bachelor's degree in the humanities from Washington State University. He was elected to the Tigard City Council in 2016, and from 2007 to 2013, he was on the Tigard Planning Commission, the last two years as its president. He and his wife live in Tigard; a son attends college and a daughter goes to Tigard High School.
"Metro has done some very good things for the region," he said in a statement. "However, as more tax increases are asked of the voters, the citizens need to know what they are getting for the money and what it ultimately means to them."
Metro voters approved a $653 million bond for subsidized housing in 2018 and a $475 million bod for parks and nature areas last year. Voters are being asked in the May 19 primary to approve Measure 26-210, which would raise up to $250 million annually in income and business taxes for homeless programs — and may be asked to approve a bond for transportation projects in the Nov. 3 election.
Anderson is the only one who has raised any campaign money. Of the $8,180 he has reported, $5,000 came from the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors and $2,500 from the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland.
Alison Balbag, 35, has earned two doctorates — one in gerontology, the study of the aging process, and the other in music (harp performance), both from the University of Southern California. She attended Valley Catholic Schools in Beaverton.
She is multiracial and a first-generation college graduate.
She sits on the Beaverton Arts Commission and has been vice chairwoman. She says she wants to promote the arts as a Metro Council member.
"They're a human right and have the power to build healthy communities, promote social justice, and help us thrive. I advocate for arts access for everyone," she said in a statement.
"Portland'5 Centers for the Arts are under Metro's purview, yet Metro's current public projects do not include or involve the arts. I advocate to create balance, so that our arts ecosystem receives equal prioritization alongside Metro's other efforts."
Patricia Kepler, 56, has been an accessibility specialist for Portland Community College since 2017, and before then, she was a specialist in independent living for Independent Living Resources in Portland. She earned a master's degree in management from Warner Pacific University in 2012. She and her husband, Michael, live in Aloha; they have raised three children.
Kepler has sat on the Beaverton Mayor's Advisory Council on Disability, Oregon Commission for the Blind and Oregon Disabilities Commission. At Metro, she has been a member of the Transportation Policy Alternatives Committee and sits on its Committee on Racial Equity.
The current council has three women, none up for election this cycle, but Kepler says the council lacks diversity.
"I want to bring diversity to the council and be a voice for those who have felt abandoned by Metro leaders," she said in a statement.
"The cost of living in this area is forcing people out of the area. Marginalized groups are being forced into the outer areas, where public transportation is less frequent, limiting their ability to secure meaningful employment and increasing isolation. People are being forced out of the neighborhoods they are familiar and comfortable with. These changes are robbing Portland of its culture."
Gerritt Rosenthal, 75, is a retired environmental consultant from Tualatin (in the Stafford area) who ran for the Metro District 3 seat in 2016 and was the Democratic nominee in Oregon House District 37 in 2014.
He earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1965 from Reed College, a master's in medical biochemistry in 1967 from the University of Minnesota and a master's in groundwater in 1985 from Cornell University. Among his jobs was water resources manager for the Lane Council of Governments in Eugene/Springfield from 1976 to 1983, and her has been on advisory panels for the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission in Eugene and for Metro itself.
He said he wants to represent the less-urbanized southern area within Metro, and has direct experience with a variety of issues that the Metro Council deals with — regional land use planning, solid waste management, and parks and natural areas.
open space (environmental issues) -
"I am also familiar with transportation and housing issues and revenue and taxation," he said in a statement. "I believe that regional government is important in our future and understand that it has a special collaborative role. Having worked for a regional agency, I believe I understand how to make Metro more effective."
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