According to Metro, he is out effective January 15th to become the executive director of the Sustainable Cities Initiative at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Liberty has served District 6 since 2004 and was the council’s most outspoken critic of the Columbia River Crossing project.
The resignation leaves a vacancy on Metro Council. With less than two years remaining in Liberty’s term (which runs through January 2013), his seat will be filled by appointment. The Willamette Week reports that Bob Stacey — who very narrowly lost an election in November to become Metro Council President — plans to apply for the vacancy.
In a personal statement, Liberty recalled his position on transportation policy that clearly hints at the CRC project (which he called a “monster” that should be “left behind”:
I worked hard to reform transportation decision-making, from the project level to the regional system level. My views did not always prevail, but I believe I have raised awareness. Perhaps in some modest ways, I prepared the ground for the reforms that I am confident we will have to make in a world of financial and environmental limits.
Liberty’s announcement comes just 24 hours before Metro will swear in newly elected Council President Tom Hughes. Given Liberty’s strong belief in smart growth and opposition to the CRC project (which Hughes supports), some have speculated that Hughes’ presidency is what made Liberty move on. Here’s what the Metro statement says about that:
Metro Council President-elect Tom Hughes, who will be sworn in Tuesday, said he was stunned by the announcement. It also puts another wrench into what Hughes had hoped would be a smooth transition period.
“This just sort of adds to the turbidity,” Hughes said.
But he rejected the notion that the board will be without a voice for smart growth now that Park [another councilor who is leaving] and Liberty are gone.
“I don’t see other members of the council being less supportive of good planning and land conservation,” Hughes said. “It changes by degrees, but I don’t think the emphasis on environmental protection and good land use planning is going to be completely lost.”
Metro will have one week of public comment prior to their announcement of Liberty’s replacement. That announcement will come no later than February.