Metro President Lynn Peterson announced her intention to run for Oregon’s 5th congressional district on Wednesday. If all goes according to plan for 54-year-old Lake Oswego resident, she’ll join Portland’s Earl Blumenauer on the Congressional Bike Caucus in 2025.
“I’ll bring a track record of developing common sense solutions and getting things done to Congress. I’m going to fight not only for needed investments in housing, public safety, transportation and education, but also our fundamental rights to vote and seek reproductive health care,” Peterson said in a statement.
The 5th district sprawls over 5,300 square miles from southeast Portland eastward into Clackamas County and parts of Sisters and Bend. Prior to 2022 when Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer narrowly beat Jamie McLeod-Skinner, the district had always been represented by a Democrat. Peterson will look to flip it back to blue. And she’ll likely have plenty of competition from her own party. The Willamette Week reported yesterday that McLeod-Skinner is “seriously considering” running again. As is Oregon State Representative Janelle Bynum.
Regardless of who runs, there’s likely no one who can compete with Peterson’s curriculum vitae when it comes to transportation. She’s got degrees in engineering and planning, worked as a planner for TriMet, was leader of land use nonprofit 1000 Friends of Oregon, was named transportation policy advisor for Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber in 2011, and served as Transportation Secretary for the Washington Department of Transportation prior to being elected Metro president in 2019. She’s also written a book on road design.
But despite her transportation bona fides, Peterson doesn’t have the corresponding legacy at Metro. At least not yet. The big Metro transportation funding measure failed at the ballot box in 2020 and several regional megaprojects Peterson is a major backer of are stuck in public and political quagmires. Despite her alignment with cycling and an ostensibly progressive transportation perspective, Peterson has been a loud voice in favor of the I-5 Rose Quarter Project and Interstate Bridge Replacement Program — both of which include freeway expansions.
At a meeting of the Oregon Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee on April 13th, Peterson found herself to the right of a coalition of advocates and electeds who are pushing to “right-size” the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program. Speaking to the committee as part of invited testimony, Peterson said, “This project will provide safe and efficient alternatives for travel, freeing up space on the bridge for interstate travel, and helping our community reduce GHG emissions. It is a huge win for active transportation and for climate… We need to do this and we need to do this now.”
Peterson’s transportation positions will likely serve her well in the race for the 5th district nomination. She’s already lined up a very impressive list of endorsements that include a diverse range of advocacy, community, and political leaders from around the region.