There’s an opening on the five-member body that oversees the Oregon Department of Transportation.
The vacancy will put a spotlight on Oregon Governor Brown, who leads the appointment process for all OTC commissioners. Brown will face intense lobbying from transportation, environmental, and social justice advocacy groups who understand the OTC’s vital role in making sure ODOT’s makes the right moves to curb emissions and build a fair, sustainable, and humane mobility system. Sources say a coalition of groups will be reaching out to Brown’s office to pressure her on the decision and to open up the appointment process to the public.
In the meantime, let’s review the how the commissioner selection process currently goes. To learn more I reached out Assistant Director of Government and External Relations for ODOT, Lindsay Baker.
Here’s what she said:
Per Oregon statute, appointments to the OTC are made by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.
— Governor Brown submits her executive appointments to the Secretary of the Senate (this happens I believe 21 days before the committee formally considers the list via/during committee meeting)
— Senate Committee on Rules and Executive Appointments considers the list of executive appointments (for first-time appointments (not reappointments)) the candidates are typically asked to appear before the committee (I expect this time will be virtual)
— Senate Committee recommends appointments move forward to a vote of full Senate
— Typically the full Senate votes within a few days of the committee recommendation; this session it’ll depend on when next floor is scheduled since it’s less frequently at the beginning of session than in sessions past.
As we think about who the next OTC commissioner might be, keep in mind that geographic equity matters and at least one member must live east of the Cascade Range (Henderson lived in Bend/central Oregon). And no more than three members can belong to the same political party. (Learn more about each current commissioner on the OTC bio page.)
Given what’s at stake, we’ll be watching this appointment closely. It’s also worth noting that current Chair Robert Van Brocklin’s term is up this year (at the end of June). He could run again, but if he doesn’t we’ll dust off this post and watch that appointment closely too.
UPDATE, 2/2: A letter (below) has been sent to Governor Brown from 31 community organizations and leaders (below) calling for a more transparent selection process and a choice that reflects urgency and understanding around key issues like induced demand, climate change, equity, investment in non-driving options, and so on.
020221 - Letter to Governor Brown re OTC Appointment
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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