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PORTLAND-The Portland Development Commission has selected four finalists selected to proceed to the public meeting phase of the urban renewal agency’s quest for a new executive director. Don Mazziotti, the agency’s executive director for the past four years, announced in March that he would resign effective July 1. The PDC is expected to name his successor June 27.The four finalists were selected after interviews with a 10-person search committee. The finalists are:

  • Gil Jimenez, director of the Arizona Department of Commerce, where among other things he works on economic development;
  • David Knowles, vice president of locally based David Evans and Associates Inc., where he leads the firm‘s planning and urban development activities;
  • Bruce Warner, director of the Oregon Department of Transportation. Warner previously served as Washington County‘s director of land use and transportation planning;
  • Karen Williams, partner in the locally based law firm Lane Powell Spears Lubersky LLP, who previously spent seven years as the PDC’s in-house lawyer and general counsel.
  • The public will have a chance to meet the candidates at two events scheduled for Saturday, June 18, and Monday, June 20. Both meetings will run from 12-3 p.m. and will take place at PDC’s office, 222 NW 5th Avenue in Old Town/Chinatown. At each meeting, each candidate will provide an overview of their work history and qualifications and then take questions from the audience.Prior to the end of the public forums to meet the candidates, citizens will be encouraged to fill out comment cards indicating the strengths/weaknesses of the candidates. These will be provided to the PDC Board as they conduct their deliberations. The agency, which has an annual budget in excess of $200 million, has taken heat on several fronts in recent weeks. First, it riled community members by going against the recommendation of its evaluation committee and not selecting Beam Development as the preferred developer for a five-block redevelopment at the east end of the Burnside Bridge. Beam formally protested the decision but recently withdrew it after being promised a piece of the project by the developer that has tentatively been chosen for the project.In addition, news reports in recent weeks have questioned consulting contracts awarded to a friend of PDC chairman Mat Hennessee and a management coach who allegedly did not perform and has a long history of bankruptcy and failure to pay his taxes.”The importance of the leadership role at PDC cannot be overstated,” says Mayor Tom Potter. “I urge citizens to attend the meetings next week so they can review the candidates and provide us with their feedback on who they feel can best work with the community, City Council, other bureau managers, civic and government partners.”

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