2012 Metro District 5 election: Sam Chase vs Helen Ying
From Portland Afoot
This guide to the 2012 Metro District 5 election between Sam Chase and Helen Ying is part of Portland Afoot's low-car voter guide for 2012. Interviews were planned and conducted for Portland Afoot by active transportation advocate Aaron Brown.
Ballots for the nonpartisan primary are due May 15. If no candidate has a majority, the top two candidates will advance to the Nov. 6 general election.
 Relevant endorsements
Bike Walk Vote, the leading electoral organization for Portland bicycling community, endorsed Sam Chase. So did the Oregon State Council for Retired Citizens, Portland Business Alliance and Oregon League of Conservation Voters. There was no overwhelming favorite in the race among other local politicians.
 The candidates' policy positions
 On transit budgets
What can Metro do to make transit more cost-effective?
Chase: Don't move the urban growth boundary and encourage further development of dense areas. "A lot of my experiences in the past years have been around affordable housing and social justice work. I think the way that we approach our housing strategy needs to be more aggressive in building in active transportation areas in centers and town centers. We need to make it much easier to do the kind of development we want in those areas, building up instead of pushing people out and expanding the urban growth boundary."
Ying: By encouraging 20-minute neighborhoods. "One of the things that I think is really important is to create livable communities where people can be closer to all of the things that they do. ... I looked online the other day ... there was a survey analyzing how people responded in terms of biking and other modes of transportation, and there was actually a distinct difference among the three counties. That’s something we have to pay attention to, and educating people how to use different modes of transportation and what the benefits are."
 On gas tax
Would you be willing to go lobby the Oregon Senate and House for a higher statewide gas tax or mileage fees?
Ying: Maybe. "When we look at the decline in previous forms of how we have been able to generate revenues because of fewer people driving and people using electric cars, we do have to look at new forms of revenue. I would have to look at more of what that means, between gas taxes and user fees, but we definitely, as a region, have to look at how we generate new revenues to keep our roads well kept for everyone, with different modes of transportation."
 On anti-congestion tolling
Would you be proactive in encouraging anti-congestion tolling on private automobiles on facilities such as the Sylvan Tunnel or I-84?
Chase: Yes. "Yes, I think congestion pricing is a tool that we should definitely be looking at. ... It is a very important strategy to dealing with congestion and revenue generation that we need to repair roads and other transportation strategies."
Ying: Maybe. "I think that’s a very viable way to looking at congestion. ... When I sat down with Andy Cotugno he shared with me to look at tolling at amounts during the day, versus a flat fee. ... What we don’t want to do is cram something down the throats of our public."
 On transit-friendly housing
It is becoming increasingly difficult to find cheap housing near transit amenities. What role should Metro play in encouraging workforce housing near transit?
Chase: By eliminating development fees on homes in active transportation zones. "I think that it should go beyond workforce housing and also include affordability at similar levels for folks who are struggling as seniors, with disabilities. What we need to do is take away some of the disincentives at have in placing those buildings and housing projects in the active transportation zones I was mentioning before. … For example, in Portland, all system development charges are exempted from development for those below 60% income. We ought to have consistent policy with active transportation zones that reflect that kind of exemption towards the projects that we really want to see. To me, one of my number one priorities is to create a regional housing strategy, including affordable housing, that will address affordability but also address the kinds of densities and ranges of housing choices that we need in our region."
Ying: A large one, though she's not sure how. "I think Metro really should take the lead. ... We look at urban renewal and how it’s pushed people in low income families further and further away from the central core, and what happens is, they’ve moved out to where they can afford housing but that’s not where they could access work or other amenities easily. That’s something that is at the forefront of my thinking, and that’s something I will focus a lot of my efforts on."
 On the Columbia River Crossing
The CRC project continues to make headlines for its inability to clear political and engineering hurdles. Given the uncertain state of the CRC project, would you ever sign off on a bridge without light rail, a bike/walking route and tolling?
Ying: No. "No. ... I think light rail, biking and walking are very key for me to accept the [CRC] on the table."
 On local spending on freight
In 2011, about 25% of Metro's regional flexible funds were dedicated to "Green Economy" freight projects, and the rest was dedicated to projects predominantly involving active transportation. Should Metro's regional flexible funds be tilted more toward freight, less, or is the split about right?
Chase: About right. "I think that the fight over flexible funds is going to be shorter term, because I’m really worried that the federal funds will go away. … I think we’re in the right zone, where things are now, but we are grossly underfunded on active transportation funds, and we’ve got to find some new resource strategies to grow and build the Intertwine, the North Portland Greenway, and a bunch of other things that won’t get there with just flexible funds alone."
Ying: About right, at least for now. "I would not make any change to what is already on the table right now, and I would need to be more involved at the table to hear the conversations from both sides."
 On transit service levels
As it sets the priorities for new transit lines, does Metro have a role in ensuring that existing service is maintained?
Chase: Yes. "Yes. ... If we don’t have adequate bus service, particularly in our lower income areas, people can’t get to work. … Metro can't do its job unless TriMet service is robust."
Ying: Maybe. "I have an appointment with Neil McFarlane and Olivia Clark and my intention is get their thoughts firsthand. ... I do think we have to look at how to maintain the services that we have, because that’s what we want to promote, using other transportation other than hopping in their car."
 On TriMet reform
Some riders complain that because TriMet's management answers to the Governor's Office in Salem, local transit riders' needs are neglected. Would you, as an elected official, support any initiative involving reforming TriMet for more local control?
Chase: Maybe. "I'm certainly willing to look at that option."
Ying: Maybe. "I would need to learn more. … I would have to understand what it means to have local control versus control at the governor’s level, but I do think that local input in general is a top priority."
 On the candidates' favorite places
And finally: What's your favorite public transit facility and your favorite active transportation facility?
Chase: The 15, and his bike commute. "The 15 is the best line, hands down. My favorite (bike) route is the one I do everyday, at least while I’m not campaigning. For the last two years, I’ve rode my bike everyday through Northwest Portland to downtown. … 19th Avenue down to Quimby.
Ying: The streetcar, and the off-road trails. "The streetcar, because I live in the Pearl and I use that a lot, and it connects me to the MAX. (favorite bike/walk amenity) The Springwater Corridor, and along the river. I love to walk and hike, and as far as biking, I still have to figure out how to contend with the cars because when I’m on the road I get nervous!"
 See also
- 2012 Portland mayoral election: Eileen Brady vs Charlie Hales vs Jefferson Smith
- 2012 Portland City Council election: Steve Novick vs Mark White vs Jeri Williams
- 2012 Portland City Council election: Amanda Fritz vs Mary Nolan
- 2012 Metro District 5 election: Sam Chase vs Helen Ying
- 2012 Metro District 6 election: Jonathan Levine vs Bob Stacey
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