January 25th, 2010 5:33 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

Metro Prez Race Heats Up

Rex Burkholder

The three-way Metro Council President's race figures to be a compelling battle among three-term Councilor Rex Burkholder (above) a founder of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance; an environmental leader with broad experience in Bob Stacey (below), the former director of 1000 Friends of Oregon; and Tom Hughes, a popular two-term Hillsboro mayor with strong economic development credentials.


At an AFSCME candidate hearing last week, Stacey jabbed hard at Burkholder on two substantive issues. He called the Regional Transportation Plan that Metro approved a "charade" and said the case that Burkholder makes for replacing the existing bridge between Portland and Vancouver is built on "myths" that are "false." (Stacey argued that including projects in the RTP out of compliance with Metro's climate goals is irresponsible and argued for re-using the existing bridge rather than spending $3.6 billion on a new one; Burkholder defended the RTP and said the existing bridge is obsolete.)

Burkholder seemed non-plussed at Stacey's criticism last week. And rather than bashing Stacey or ignoring him—the two typical responses in contested elections—Burkholder today responded with a lengthy press release that amplifies a private email critical of Burkholder. The private email was sent by Stacey campaign adviser Liz Kaufman to a small group more than ten days ago. Here's an excerpt of Burkholder's release:
The Burkholder campaign called upon Metro President candidate Bob Stacey to end the recent divisive and baseless attacks on Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder's impressive environmental accomplishments. Burkholder, who leads in both fundraising and endorsements in the contested race for the three-county post, has won the support of more than two dozen prominent environmental leaders

The Burkholder release goes on to quote Burkholder supporters extolling his strengths, then reprints Kaufman's email to some of her friends.

Here's that email:
From: Elizabeth Kaufman
Sent: Thursday, January 14, 2010 11:17 AM

Guys - Wanted you to know that Bob Stacey has received the sole endorsement from OLCV for Metro President. Having watched this thing for years, I gotta tell you that you have to be REALLY bad on the issues if - as an incumbent- you don't get a joint endorsement from OLCV with your challenger, especially when you've been endorsed before like REx. Even Diane Linn against Ted Wheeler got a joint endorsement. Not REx. They just don't go against incumbents unless they're really bad.

I guess in my old age that I'm tired of these fake environmentalists. And if more people who consider themselves true environmentalists don't stick with that brand, you'll see what you get stuck with.

PS And (delete name)- please take a look at all your friends from the gas company whose names are listed as Rex's endorsers on his campaign website... would it surprise you to know he's got them all?

Contacted by WW, Kaufman stood by the email, which she said went to a half-dozen people.

"A lot of prominent elected leaders are trying to get away with saying one thing and doing something else," Kaufman says. "A lot of people are starting to get tired of it."

Burkholder's campaign manager, Caroline Fitchett, acknowledges Kaufman's email was not intended to be widely broadcast. But Fitchett says the email is nonethless "hurtful" and an example of "cheap politics."

Kaufman says the real issue is that Burkholder is disappointed Stacey got a key endorsement from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters on Jan. 14.

"When you receive a 55 percent rating from OLCV [Burkholder's 2005 score] you are probably not going to get the endorsement," Kaufman says.
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