Portland Mayor Charlie Hales nominated two men, a corporate finance attorney and a labor leader, to serve on the city’s urban agency renewal board of commissioners.

Gustavo J. Cruz Jr. and William Myers are Hales’ choices to replace retiring members of the five-member Portland Development Commission board. If approved, the men will replace outgoing commissioners Charles Wilhoite and John Mohlis. PDC commissioners serve three-year terms.

“The leadership that these new members bring to the PDC is much needed right now,” Hales said in a statement. “Portland is growing and that growth won’t end any time soon. We are a richly diverse community with pockets of dire inequity.”

If the City Council approves the appointments, Hales will have appointed all but one member, Aneshka Dickson, to the board. Dickson, vice president of Colas Construction, is also the lone woman on the board.

Hales also nominated board chair Tom Kelly, president of Neil Kelly remodeling company, and prominent developer Mark Edlen.

Cruz, who goes by Tavo, is a senior attorney with Ater Wynne, where he focuses on commercial finance and corporate finance. He is also the board chair of the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber.

Myers, who goes by Willy, is executive secretary of the Columbia Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents electricians, boilermakers and 23 other trade groups.

Gustavo Cruz Jr. is one of two appointees to the PDC Board. 

Cruz, 54, is a native Portlander who is also well-known and active in his Northwest neighborhood association.

The attorney said Hales approached him two weeks ago to ask if he would join the board, and he called it “an honor.”

Cruz said he’s seen a lot of economic development through his work with the neighborhood association. “Some of the projects we’ve seen haven’t been that great, so we’ve had to push back,” he said.

He said the themes of demolition and infill he’s seen in the Nob Hill neighborhood are prevalent elsewhere. Some areas of town are “way behind the curve,” Cruz said.

“You can see how the pace of change can accelerate fast,” Cruz said, citing North Williams Avenue and Southeast Division Street. “Part of the challenge that I think the PDC has is to help those neighborhoods that haven’t seen strong consistent economic development get on track.”

In a statement, Myers said he brings a different perspective to the board. “As a union leader, equitable job creation is of great interest to me and I am looking forward to working with others on the board to serve our city in this endeavor.”

Myers, a 45-year-old St. John’s resident, declined to comment until his  appointment is official.

On Wednesday, the PDC board agenda includes a moment of appreciation for Wilhoite and Mohlis, who have served on the board since 2006 and 2007, respectively.

Wilhoite, the managing director and a financial consultant at Willamette Management Associates, spent time as PDC board chair in 2008 and led the effort to bring economic development to North and Northeast Portland.

Mohlis, executive secretary for the Oregon Building and Construction Trades Council, “played a key role in PDC’s minority contracting and apprenticeship achievements.”

The Portland City Council is expected to vote on the appointments in July.

— Andrew Theen
[email protected]
503-294-4026
@cityhallwatch

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