Gov. Kate Brown has nominated Maurice Henderson, former TriMet chief operating officer and chief of staff to Mayor Ted Wheeler, to the Oregon Transportation Commission, which guides statewide transportation policy, including the widening of Interstate 5 in the Rose Quarter.
Henderson left Portland in 2019 for a post at the e-scooter company Bird, where he is now director of government partnerships. He lives in Bend.
The governor selected Henderson, who is Black, at a time when the commission faces questions about the Rose Quarter project’s impacts on people of color. The project, which ODOT says could cost as much as $795 million, has drawn strong opposition from environmental groups and, earlier this summer, lost the support of the Albina Vision Trust. That group seeks to restore parts of the inner Northeast Portland neighborhoods that were destroyed to make way for I-5.
Related: Racial Justice Group Albina Vision Trust Withdraws Its Support for I-5 Rose Quarter Expansion.
Henderson would replace Martin Callery of Coos Bay on the OTC. His appointment is subject to approval by the Oregon Senate next month.
"Maurice has both federal and local experience with transportation issues, and also an understanding of agency operations, which will bring a thoughtful lens to the OTC," says Brown spokeswoman Liz Merah.
Henderson declined to answer a question about what his view of the Rose Quarter project, but said: ""I'm honored and humbled by Governor Brown's nomination and for the opportunity to serve the people of Oregon in this capacity.
"Pending the Senate's consideration and hopeful approval of my candidacy," he added, "I look forward to engaging with and learning from the members of the OTC and the team at ODOT in a continual effort to best support the ongoing work across the state, including initiatives such as the bridge replacement in Douglas County, the Rose Quarter discussions, and policy work related to congestion pricing."
This story was updated to include comment from Henderson.