After less than three years at the helm, TriMet General Manager Kelsey announced their retirement in December. This leadership change provides an opportunity for the community to be involved in this essential hiring decision that will have impacts across the greater Portland region for years to come.
Local community stakeholders have spoken loudly and for too many years about the need for basic improvements such as shelter at stops and increased bus frequency, as well as expansion of bus service to reach more people and essential destinations in the region. We have called for a more humane approach to public safety. We have asked for TriMet to better serve our youth and older adults, and to ensure transit remains affordable. In short, we have called for vision and creativity in creating a transit system that works for all.
We are in need of fresh, new leadership from TriMet with a clear vision to proactively champion transit as an essential ingredient to addressing our region’s growing inequality, carbon emissions, and as a job creator to tackle the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. We asked the board to take the time to involve the community in this essential decision, so that they may strengthen partnerships with the community and increase the likelihood of success of the agency and the next General Manager.
We must ensure the next General Manager will listen and incorporate these needs from the community. Our coalition’s steering committee drafted a letter and gathered endorsements from community groups representing thousands of transit riders, and sent it to TriMet’s board, asking them to make sure to slow down their process to ensure an open and transparent process that involves the community.
Prior to beginning the recruitment process, we ask the TriMet Board of Directors to:
- Commit to an open, transparent, and deliberate process that intentionally utilizes a non-traditional recruitment firm in order to find candidates that will reflect the community’s values and needs.
- Review recent community input and hold an engagement process with community stakeholders to develop criteria and key competencies.
- Demonstrate your commitment to equity and inclusion by involving internal and external stakeholders from the community on the hiring committee, such as your advisory committees, historically excluded and BIPOC community members, and transit-dependent riders.
- Embark upon a broad, nationwide search, with deliberate efforts to reach transit professionals who have success with both improving and expanding service in an equitable manner.
- Build a hiring process that brings forth candidates with experiences serving the most transportation underserved and transit dependent riders, and creates space for transit priorities beyond choice ridership, including racial equity, connecting people to jobs and essential services, supporting transit operators, public safety reform, equitable transit oriented development and affordable housing, climate emissions reductions, and improved air quality.