Meet the people on the City’s most powerful transportation committee

Meet the people on the City’s most powerful transportation committee

11 of the 17 members of the PBOT Bureau and Budget Advisory Committee are new this year.(Photos: PBOT)

11 of the 17 members of the PBOT Bureau and Budget Advisory Committee are new this year. Their perspectives will inform how the city spends $300 million in transportation funds and what kind of bureau PBOT becomes.
(Photos: PBOT)

Portland city government is not lacking in advisory committees. It’s the butt of frequent jokes among local insiders that once an issue gets controversial or politically difficult, the response is to just form a committee while things calm down.

Joking aside, not all committees are created equally. Their influence on policy and projects varies greatly and some have more teeth than others. Some have teeth that belong to smart and engaged citizens and agency staffers who know where to find the levers of power — and more importantly — are not afraid to pull them.

“We want to better understand the people we serve and their concerns.”
— Leah Treat, Director of PBOT

One such committee is the Bureau of Transportation’s Budget Advisory Committee. These fine volunteers meet monthly to make sure PBOT’s $300 million (give or take) annual budget is spent in the wisest way possible. In the summer of 2015 this committee gained even more influence when PBOT expanded the committee’s mission to include general bureau governance and policies, not just the budget (which was only a seasonal assignment).

The newly renamed 2016-2017 PBOT Bureau and Budget Advisory Committee now meets year-round and has 17 members — 11 of whom are rookies this year. As we continue to cover PBOT in the coming months, we figured you should know a bit more about them. Before we share brief bios, here’s the committee’s current list of key responsibilities supplied by PBOT):

1. inform PBOT’s annual transportation budget
2. review program priorities and capital project lists;
3. provide input on the strategy for incorporating equity into PBOT’s work and direction on the inclusion of communities have been traditionally underserved by PBOT; and
4. think critically and strategically about the complete transportation system and provide input that champions the success of both the whole transportation system and the City of Portland and all of its residents.

With a plate that full, you won’t find any slouches on this committe. And that’s by design, according to PBOT Director Leah Treat. “PBOT believes that smart policy and programs start with the community,” she said in a prepared statement last week, “That is why we seek a diversity of voices. We want to better understand the people we serve and their concerns.”

And with that, here are there names and bios as supplied by the City of Portland:

Arlene Kimura
An East Portland supporter/activist since 1992. Arlene initially became involved through the neighborhood system with land use planning, transportation issues, including urban trails, and environmental concerns. As East Portland has changed, Kimura has also become interested in health and economic development opportunities.

David McCune
David has been working for PBOT for the last 22 years as a surveyor, which gives him a unique view of our city’s infrastructure. He has been serving as an officer for AFSCME Local 189 for the past 8 years.

David Sweet
A resident of Cully, David Sweet focusses on projects to make his neighborhood, the city, and the region more equitable, sustainable and resilient. I have been a neighborhood advocate on land use and transportation issues for some years. A co-founder of Portland For Everyone, a coalition advocating for diverse, abundant and affordable housing in all Portland’s neighborhoods, Sweet is also active in the Central Northeast Neighbors coalition.

Elaine O’Keefe
Elaine O’Keefe worked in local government for more than two decades. Including over a decade with Portland Fire and Rescue. Currently, she is a board member of the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League (SMILE), a member of the SMILE Transportation Committee, and a member of the Portland Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

Heather Bowman
Heather Bowman is a partner with the law firm Bodyfelt Mount where her litigation practice includes employment discrimination and professional liability defense. Bowman’s practice includes engagement in civil rights issues and other volunteer work includes examining equity issues in legal practice. She uses all forms of transportation, and particularly appreciates transportation cycling.

Heather McCarey
Heather McCarey has a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Georgia Tech and works with Transportation Management Associations in urban, suburban, and park settings. McCarey is currently the Executive Director of Explore Washington Park, one of the first Transportation Management Associations in the nation created to address transportation issues both to and throughout a city park.

Kaliska Day
Kaliska Day, is a native Oregonian and an Alaska Native of the Tligint/Haida Tribe. With a degree in Construction Management from Arizona State University, Day has multi-year experience in the construction management sector, including serving as a construction management consultant for various public works agencies in California and Oregon.

Laura Becker
Currently the Operations Manager at Northeast Coalition of Neighbors, Laura Becker has more than 15 years of nonprofit and public sector experience. She is Board Secretary of Oregon Walks, a non-profit membership organization dedicated to promoting walking and making the conditions for walking safe, convenient and attractive for everyone. Oregon Walks has been working on bringing Vision Zero to the Portland metropolitan region as well as statewide since 2013.

Meesa Long
A resident of Southeast Portland, Meesa Long is a Reading Specialist in an East County Middle School and is also passionate about serving her community and neighborhood. In her work with transportation issues in Portland, Long’s main goal has been to increase safe pedestrian travel for children and families within under-served neighborhoods, and to think outside the box to create positive and equitable transportation improvements within the city.

Momoko Saunders
Momoko Saunders is an software engineer at Rigado and resident of East Portland. She is on the board of the non-profit Bike Farm, which she co-founded in 2007. Momoko is also an active volunteer for App Camp 4 Girls and Portland Society.

Orlando Lopez Bautista
The son of migrant farmworkers, Orlando Lopez Bautista worked side by side with his parents and other migrant workers during summers growing up in Woodburn. Bautista’s parents were some of the first members of Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), helping organize other Mixteco farmworkers to improve pay and working conditions. A Bus Riders Unite organizer with Organizing People/Activating Leaders (OPAL), Bautista will soon receive an interdisciplinary degree in Political Science and Sociology from Western Oregon University.

Pia Welch
Pia Welch began her career with Flying Tigers in California which was later acquired by FedEx Express. She has since worked for FedEx for close to three decades. Welch has served as President of Portland Air Cargo Association, Board Member American Association of University Women, and member and Vice Chair of the Portland Freight Committee. She is currently the Chair of the Freight Committee. She has been involved in city projects including; The Comprehensive Plan, Airport Way Project and various sub-committee groups when topics required more in-depth study.

Ruthanne Bennett
An civil engineer with PBOT, Ruthanne Bennett represents PTE Local 17/COPPEA Chapter. She has been a union member for 20 years and a COPPEA Steward for five years. She has consistently advocated for transportation priorities, including supporting the Fix Our Streets package and the COPPEA Value Capture program. She was instrumental in creating the COPPEA Value Capture program, which is an innovative program to encourage and fund the construction of safe street infrastructure during development projects. In addition to her B.S. in Civil Engineering she has a B.S. and M.S. in Mathematics from Portland State University.

Ryan Hashagen
Ryan Hashagen is a volunteer with Better Block PDX. A Professional Tricyclist, he has founded and run several tricycle based businesses in Canada & the U.S. Hashagen won the Cargo Messenger World Championship in 2003 & 2004 in Seattle & Edmonton. He enjoys working to connect, collaborate, and facilitate tactical urbanism projects with a wide range of organizations, businesses, and agencies.

Samuel Gollah
Sam Gollah has over a decade of experience in entitlement processing, including land use and permit compliance as a public and private planner throughout the Willamette Valley. Gollah has also provided zoning and equity consulting services for the City of Portland’s Comprehensive Plan update (2035). He currently serves as a member of the City of Portland’s Transportation Expert Group (TEG).

Thomas Karwaki
Thomas Karwaki chairs the University Park Neighborhood Association, an organization with over 9,000 members and that includes the University of Portland. Karwaki coordinates land use, public safety, emergency response, communication and public relations efforts of the UPNA.

Tony Lamb
Tony is a graduate of Portland State University’s Community Development program with a focus on community empowerment, economic development and the creation of a livable community for all without displacement. He currently serves as the Director of Economic Development for The Rosewood Initiative. Tony has served on numerous social justice and economic development initiatives including among others: Social Justice and Civic Leadership Cohort with the Urban League of Portland, East Portland Action Plan Economic Development Subcommittee, and PBOT’s Transportation Expert Group.

If you’d like to be a fly-on-the-wall or even share a comment at their next meeting, the public is encouraged to attend. They meet in the Rose Room of City Hall (1221 SW 4th Ave) on the third Thursday of every month.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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