Three Metro councilors all but secured another term on Tuesday, when the filing deadline closed for the 2014 Metro Council elections.
Councilors Carlotta Collette, Shirley Craddick and Kathryn Harrington all are running unopposed for another four-year term. Also running unopposed is Metro Auditor candidate Brian Evans. Auditor Suzanne Flynn is not running for re-election.
Tom Hughes and Jeremiah Johnson are the only two candidates for Metro Council President.
After Tuesday's filing deadline, all three unopposed incumbents expressed relief that they avoided an energy-consuming primary battle.
"It's a huge relief not to have to spend the better part of at least the next three months raising dollars. Unfortunately, that's what campaigning tends to be mostly about," Collette said. "I'm excited to be able to get back to doing my work."
Harrington's final term
Because of term limits in Metro's charter, this will be Kathryn Harrington's third and final term representing District 4 on the council. That district includes Cornelius, Forest Grove, Hillsboro, Bethany, Cedar Hills and northern Beaverton.
Harrington said she was delighted to hear she didn't draw an opponent.
"It speaks to me that I have done a good job working hard for my district and the region on the Metro Council, that folks know and appreciate the work I do," she said.
None of the incumbencies are automatic; in theory, any of the candidates could be ousted by a write-in campaign.
"I'm very respectful of the fact that I do still have to earn the people's vote, and I plan on doing so," Harrington said.
Assuming that write-in campaign doesn't materialize, Harrington said she plans on spending her final term focusing on increasing the vitality of neighborhoods and downtown areas. She also wants to help build upon the success of Metro's natural areas program, and help push trails projects like the Westside and Council Creek trails.
Harrington said she's motivated by seeing the children in her neighborhood spending time close to home playing outside.
"The kind of work that we do in natural areas, but also downtowns and with our land use planning, it's not necessarily work that folks can see a direct result next week, next month or next year," she said. "But I know that I'm making a decision that makes their lives better today, but will help them decide as young adults they want to stay in Portland metropolitan region."
Another round for Collette
Carlotta Collette has spent years in public service, the last six-plus on the Metro Council representing most of urban Clackamas County.
Even amid all the alleged tension between the southern part of the region and the regional government, Collette finds herself running unopposed for her second full term.
She said her focus is on helping the cities and neighborhoods in her district realize their visions.
"I've been meeting one-on-one with mayors in my (district), just to get a sense of what are your goals, are there things Metro can help you with, what would you like to accomplish and can I help you?" she said. "It's a big part of what I've been spending the last couple of months doing."
She also has personal goals of helping push forward the redevelopment plan at Willamette Falls and improving transportation and transit in her district.
Collette also pointed to another redevelopment project on her radar for her second full term: the convention center hotel project.
"I think the (Oregon) Convention Center is a very important part of how we increase tourism dollars in our region," Collette said. "I know when there's a big convention in town, what I hear in my district is there's a lot more people on Mt. Hood. That's Clackamas County and that's a benefit to our region – so having more, bigger conventions coming to the Oregon Convention Center because we have the Oregon Convention Center hotel will be a boon for my district."
Craddick looks to second term
Four years ago, then-Gresham City Councilor Shirley Craddick put her hat in to run for an open seat on the Metro Council. In 2014, she'll be running for re-election unopposed.
"I'm honored," she said. "I hope I can read this to mean that my district is comfortable and happy with the role I'm playing in representing them at Metro."
Craddick's district includes Boring, Damascus, Fairview, Gresham, Orient, Troutdale, Wood Village and everything in Portland east of 122nd Avenue.
She's looking to improve business and the economy in her district for her second term.
"I want it (District 1) to be as prosperous as the west part of the region," she said. "I want to do all I can to make it the best place to live, and the best place to site your business."
She said she'd like to see Metro do more to improve the industrial land inventory on the east part of the region.
"There's a continued effort on helping our cities and town centers and regional centers thrive, and Metro can play a role in that," she said.
New auditor for 2015
Metro Auditor Suzanne Flynn will step down at the end of 2014 after eight years as the regional government's elected auditor.
Brian Evans, a principal management auditor in Flynn's office, ran unopposed to succeed her. He joined the Metro Auditor's Office in 2008 after working as a senior economist for the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department.
A graduate of Lewis and Clark College and the University of Wisconsin masters program, Evans said he's always been interested in how government programs work.
He said his top priority is to continue providing audits that can help Metro improve its programs and services.
"Suzanne has put us on a very good path," he said. "I want to keep that tradition going where I can provide some information that maybe isn't always easy to hear, but in a way that will help the chances that the recommendations will be approved – so we won't focus so much on back-and-forth but trying to get on a path where the improvements can be made."
As Metro focuses more on economic and community development, he said he'll be building upon Flynn's work to improve analysis and measurement of past work.
"It feels to me like Metro's moving into the next phase of what it wants to focus on," he said. "It's especially important to have an auditor there to help along the way."
One race to decide in May
The Metro Council President's race is likely to be decided in the May election, with either Tom Hughes or Jeremiah Johnson needing 50 percent of the vote to win the election outright.
The seats held by councilors Sam Chase, Craig Dirksen and Bob Stacey are up for re-election in 2016.