January 3rd, 2011 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

Robert Liberty Resigning from Metro; Successor Could Be Bob Stacey

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Metro Councilor Robert Liberty announced his resignation from the Metro Council today. Liberty, a former director of the land-use group 1000 Friends of Oregon, first won election to Metro in 2004, representing District 6, which covers parts of Northeast, Southeast and Southwest Portland.

Liberty, who earned his law degree at Harvard, is returning to the University of Oregon, where he studied as an undergraduate. He will lead the university's Sustainable Cities Initiative, an interdisciplinary effort "that seeks to promote education, service, public outreach and research on the design and development of sustainable cities," according to the SCI website.

"I didn't make this decision lightly but it's a fantastic opportunity," Liberty says.

Among other endeavors, the SCI coordinated 100,000 U of O student hours helping Gresham become more sustainable and is now working with the City of Salem.

Liberty's departure marks the continuation of a major shift on the seven-member Metro Council.

Former council President David Bragdon, who announced his resignation last August just prior to his scheduled term-limited retirement this month, and Liberty had been Metro's loudest voices in opposition to the proposed Columbia River Crossing project.

Liberty often served as the council's resident CRC skeptic, drawing on his legal training and land-use expertise to frame concerns about issues ranging from the mega-bridge to why Metro continued to allow an unlined Washington County landfill to operate so long.

Liberty departs in the wake of former Hillsboro Mayor Tom Hughes' surprising victory in the Metro Council president's race last November over Liberty's longtime ally, Bob Stacey, also a former executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon. Liberty contributed $2,500 to Stacey's campaign, according to state filings, but says Hughes' win did not play a role in his decision to resign two years prior to the end of his term.

Liberty says he doesn't share the fears of some environmentalists that Hughes, who campaigned on Hillsboro's hefty job growth while he was mayor, will push aggressively for expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary.

"I concluded I could work quite well with Tom [Hughes]," Liberty says.

The Metro Council must now pick somebody to serve out the remaining two years of Liberty's four-year term. One intriguing possibility is a certain Liberty constituent who has time on his hands after losing to Hughes by 1,003 votes out of nearly 400,000 cast.

Stacey says he's interested in the position. "I do intend to apply to be appointed to the vacancy," Stacey says. "I will be calling council members today to advise them of my interest and my candidacy."
 
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