Metro President Lynn Peterson announces run for Congress

Lynn Peterson in July, 2019. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

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.

Endorsers

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.

Peterson is also an enthusiastic bike rider. She’s participated in several “Policymaker Rides” over the years and in 2018 she embarked on a 24 city bike tour.

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.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Fred
Fred
8 months ago

Why am I not excited about this news? Peterson is certainly not terrible for cycling, but I can’t forget how she caved on the Rose Quarter expansion, which will truly be terrible for cycling in that area of town.

Michael
Michael
8 months ago
Reply to  Fred

She caved on the IBRP, too. Mary Nolan was the sole “no” vote when Metro had a chance to pump the brakes and demand revisions.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
8 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Considering that “no more freeways” (the supposed enemies of freeway expansion in this sorry town) is part of a coalition whose members are literally begging the legislature to spend billions on a freeway expansion, people upset about nolan are kind of like the “people’s front of judea” being opposed to the “judean people’s front”.

https://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/2023/06/opinion-funding-for-i-5-bridge-replacement-must-move-forward.html

All three are members of the Just Crossing Alliance.

Unfortunately, after discussing this bridge for more than a decade, Oregon must now scramble to take advantage of federal dollars before time runs out….

Action is urgent. Washington state has appropriated $250 million of the $1 billion it has pledged to the project. Oregon’s Joint Committee on Transportation has been meeting for months with multiple hearings and hours of public comments to inform Oregon’s approach on funding, labor policies and other guidelines for building the bridge. But at the committee’s final meeting of the session, the bill to fund the bridge never even came up for a vote. To our dismay, the bridge bill suddenly died.

Michael
Michael
8 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I was not expressing disdain over Nolan’s vote. Quite the opposite, actually. I was at that meeting of Metro, and I was right alongside No More Freeways in calling for a “No”. The political realities have now changed as the project has continued to advance, and I respect No More Freeways’ decision to try to control the scope of the project by being supportive of it, overall, but we’d arguably be in a much better position now if the political leaders had put their foot down years ago and demanded a replacement of the bridge without any additional lanes of travel or tacking on seven (!) interchange reconstructions and expansions. Lynn Peterson’s “yes” vote was deeply concerning to me and will hang over her any time she asks for my vote in the future.

She’d probably still be better than Lori Chavez-DeRemer or Kurt Schrader, though.

pierre_delecto
pierre_delecto
8 months ago
Reply to  Michael

The political realities have now changed as the project has continued to advance, and I respect No More Freeways’ decision to try to control the scope of the project by being supportive of it, overall…

So…

comment image

and demanded a replacement of the bridge

The idea that a replacement bridge is needed is always stated as if it’s obvious and no evidence is required. SUV-dependency rots people’s brains.

Daniel Reimer
8 months ago
Reply to  pierre_delecto

Of course an organization called No More Freeways would support not replacing this bridge with 6 lanes of car traffic. But that isn’t even what is on the table. ODOT is trying to expand it to 7 or 8 lanes. NMF is trying to do damage control a freeway expansion into a not-freeway expansion. Lobbying for less car lanes is politically unfeasible.

As to why the support for the replacement bridge? Earthquake resiliency.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
8 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

Earthquake resiliency.

Carrying water for ODOT’s bogus study, I see. One of the reasons I am vehemently opposed to urbanism is that when push-comes-to-shove urbanists almost always side with more pollution and more negative externalities in the name of economic progress profits.

Previous earthquake preparedness exercises have assumed that Interstate 5 and the highways to the Pacific Northwest coast would be largely impassible after a magnitude 9 offshore Cascadia megaquake. The new analysis produced by researchers in the UW Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering for the Washington State Department of Transportation reconfirmed the predicted damage along the outer coast and its post-quake isolation. But it concluded the great majority of bridges in the inland I-5 corridor should remain standing.

https://www.kuow.org/stories/some-freeways-may-be-useable-following-the-big-one-per-new-modeling-by-uw

Aaron Brown - No More Freeways
Reply to  pierre delecto

just to be clear – No More Freeways has never advocated for or supported any position that involves additional lanes of freeway on the IBR or the Rose Quarter. I’m sure if you want to read through all of our statements you’ll be able to find some offhand comment that implies we’ve totally compromised or changed our position, if that’s truly what you want to believe. but it’s not true. hope this helps!

Rob
Rob
8 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

You didn’t actually look at the report, did you? There’s nothing in there that states that the interstate bridge will be part of that majority. Some of the finer details imply that it won’t be.

Robert Wallis
Robert Wallis
8 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

From everything I have seen from the Just Crossing Alliance, i admire the actions they have taken on the worthless IBR project.

Atreus
Atreus
8 months ago

We need new leadership at Metro, and I suspect she would be well-suited to be in Congress, so this is a welcome development.

jakeco969
jakeco969
8 months ago
Reply to  Atreus

With Congress bring what it is today I’m not sure if saying that she’s well suited to be in Congress is a ringing endorsement of her abilities.

Atreus
Atreus
8 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

It was not meant to be an endorsement, quite the opposite.

Pam R.
Pam R.
8 months ago
Reply to  Atreus

I’m definitely down with new leadership at Metro (sometimes I wonder if we even need Metro at all), but I don’t think that is a reason to have someone with lackluster perfrormance in WA and OR get promoted to a higher national office.

Randi J
Randi J
8 months ago

I’m definitely not a fan despite her photo in cycling kit. She was fired as director of the Washington State Department of Transportation due to a “laundry list of concerns, including cost overruns, management failures and project delays”. Unfortunately she hasn’t done any better in Oregon. The Homeless Tax which is overseen by Peterson has been a major failure of her tenure. Alisa Pyszka would have been a much better choice but unfortunately voters here pay little attention to Metro and County positions. Given her track record, I find it worrisome she could represent our region in Congress.
Vote carefully my friends.

https://www.kiro7.com/news/senate-votes-to-fire-head-of-wsdot-lynn-peterson/63985096/

Fred
Fred
8 months ago
Reply to  Randi J

Great point about the cycling kit. She obviously knows what it takes to be successful in Portland, which is to *APPEAR* that you care about something when in fact you aren’t lifting a finger to promote that thing – bicycling in this case. I had missed her comments about how great the new Columbia River bridge is going to be for everyone, along with her trumpeting of ODOT’s lies about how the expanded bridge will REDUCE carbon emissions. So thanks to BP and JM for reminding us about that.

I’d be happy if voters in D5 keep the Republican in office. It’s good to have some balance in our politics, as long as the Repub isn’t a nut case.

dwk
dwk
8 months ago
Reply to  Fred

The Republican DeRemer voted with the rest of the congressional right wing kooks to default on the debt last week.
She has a 92% rating from the NRA….
Anything else you want to know to decide if she is a nut case?

Randi J
Randi J
8 months ago
Reply to  dwk

That’s so annoying. We need more moderate, pragmatic Republican and Democrats in Congress. Unfortunately from what I have seen Peterson doesn’t fit that mold.
The extreme polarization is serving no one well. Glad there were enough reasonable representatives in both parties to keep us from defaulting.

Damien
Damien
8 months ago
Reply to  Randi J

That’s so annoying. We need more moderate, pragmatic Republican and Democrats in Congress.

To get this, we need to do away with primaries and implement a voting system that doesn’t need them. Until then, moderation or pragmatism is not what’s incentivized, and therefore not what we’ll get.

Signatures are being collected to implement STAR voting statewide in Oregon right now – if you get the chance, sign it. That’d be a significant step in the right direction.

Watts
Watts
8 months ago
Reply to  Damien

Primaries serve an important function by helping narrow the field and giving media and the public and opportunity to dig deep on the leading candidates. That’s harder to do 8n a crowded field.

You could run a primary using STAR voting and have runoff between the top two or three.

Damien
Damien
8 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Primaries serve an important function by helping narrow the field and giving media and the public and opportunity to dig deep on the leading candidates.

Primaries also warp the field, incentivizing polarizing candidates, as witnessed just by looking around at federal elections. As long as we have primaries, we will continue to have extreme candidates.

We’ve done this debate before, with your position basically being that people can’t handle a big crowd, therefore some other people have to do pre-selection for them. It’s not an uncommon position, but at that point, we’re already accepted the premise that people can’t handle too much democracy.

I honestly believe that premise is true, but it’s not pragmatic or productive so long as we’re sticking with democracy.

Todd/Boulanger
8 months ago

Oh how I wish she had been able to stay in WA state at the DOT.

Randi J
Randi J
8 months ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

That’s not a very neighborly thing of you to say. :). We like our neighbors to the north right?

Michael
Michael
8 months ago
Reply to  Randi J

Just as long as they’re not exporting even more of their car dependency into Portland! We’ve got enough of it as it is!

meh
meh
8 months ago

So her term as Metro Council president runs until January of 2027, and she’s decided not to fulfill that commitment and instead run for congress. Don;’ care which side of the aisle you are on, this just doesn’t cut it.

Jim Gould
Jim Gould
8 months ago
Reply to  meh

I’ll be glad to see her go although not glad to see her in Congress. Failed in WA, failed at Metro….now off to DC???

Andy Palmquist
Andy Palmquist
8 months ago

I see little to no chance anyone affiliated with Metro could get elected in OR-05.

Hoping perennial loser McLeod-Skinner finally gives this one a pass.

Janelle Bynum is probably the best option among those mentioned so far for flipping this seat/