by Claire Roth
EUGENE (May 26, 2022) — On May 5, Better Eugene-Springfield Transportation (BEST) invited the Lane Transit District (LTD) board of directors to introduce themselves to the public they represent and provide insight into the needs of LTD via an online questionnaire. Only one board member, vice-president Don Nordin from Cottage Grove, chose to do so.
The questionnaire asked each board member about how they travel and why they serve as a board member. It asked about LTD’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and what the most critical issues are today. Finally, it asked how each board member engages with the public, what they feel they have accomplished, and what they still hope to accomplish. All questions were optional. BEST initially requested responses by May 17 but offered additional time to complete the questionnaire.
Reasoning for non-responses from the rest of the board varied. One board member indicated that they were going to be out of town for a better part of the month. Another board member questioned BEST’s motives, voicing concerns around the timing of the questionnaire so close to the primary election. Another said they had been directed to be “apolitical” by Governor Kate Brown, who appoints LTD board members. Interim general manager Mark Johnson suggested that updated board member bios on LTD’s website would be more appropriate than a questionnaire from BEST.
BEST’s inspiration for the questionnaire came from what we see to be the most important responsibility of the LTD board of directors; selecting a new general manager to run the agency, a task that is currently underway. According to a media release, LTD’s board of directors expects to announce the new general manager by the end of its fiscal year on June 30, 2022.
BEST believes that to find the right fit, board members should have a clear understanding of issues facing the agency today: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
LTD is substantially supported by public funding from local payroll taxes, state grants, and federal programs. LTD board members are appointed by Oregon’s governor and confirmed by the Senate. As such, they never appear in a voter’s pamphlet or campaign literature, the primary ways that the public learns about their officials.
BEST president Alexis Biddle explains, “Oregon has a strong tradition of robust public involvement. The LTD Board of Directors is the critical link between the public and our transit agency. Board members represent us, and we have a right to know who they are and what they believe.”
Questionnaire results are available at https://www.best-oregon.org/2022/05/ltd-board-questionnaire.
BEST is a local 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization working to build a successful community by bringing people together to promote transportation options, safe streets, and walkable neighborhoods.