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Volume 14, Issue 7
July 2016


Mike Dahlstrom named to lead the new county-run Community Engagement program

Earlier this month, Washington County announced that Michael Dahlstrom will lead the county’s broad community engagement effort, including providing administrative support to the county’s Community Participation Organization (CPO) program. Dahlstrom will begin his appointment on August 1. Dahlstrom has been a senior planner with the Washington County Department of Land Use and Transportation, where he has worked since 2008.

Mike Dahlstrom

Washington County has had probably the most robust citizen involvement program in the state of Oregon, ever since Goal 1 of Oregon’s Land Use Laws mandated that citizens be involved in land use decisions. The CPO program has been managed by a team of people working for the Oregon State University Extension Service, but in late 2014, we learned that OSU wanted to end the relationship. Since that time a “transition” process has been unfolding to figure out how the program will continue.

The Board of County Commissioners (BCC) created a Transition Planning Team to explore “a broad range of public participation models and strategies” and to develop “several options for Board consideration so that a transition can be made in early 2016.”

The team worked over an eight-month period, through discussions facilitated by a consultant, to identify options for managing and staffing the CPO program within the context of an enhanced community engagement program. After discussing a range of potential institutional hosts, the County Administrative Office was chosen as the program’s new home, with oversight to be provided by the new manager. More information about the process can be found at the project’s website at

Dahlstrom says, “The CPO program is a cornerstone of the County’s public involvement efforts and has served many community members well for decades. Transitioning the program management to the County brings a host of potential benefits to the CPOs, the County, and the community at large. Having more exposure across departments and divisions allows increased availability of vital information to the community. Building on the County’s history of collaboration with our cities, service providers, and regional partners, there is opportunity to increase the breadth of information out to all our communities.”

“I bring to the program years of public involvement and public policy mediation experience. As a local chapter board member of an international public participation organization, I’m exposed to evolving best practices and have even had the privilege of crafting some that have received national recognition. I’m also actively engaged in assessing online technologies as another tool for participation. I look forward to bringing this experience to the new community engagement program.”

Volunteer leaders in the CPO program applaud the choice, recognizing Mike’s engagement and respect for the voices of the community, as well as his understanding of the strange animal that is Washington County, with its large Urban Unincorporated Area, along with its diversity of land uses and populations. Two members of the previous Extension staff are continuing as county employees, and web and other program services are currently transitioning to county management.

Dahlstrom continues, “Most important are the people involved. I look forward to supporting the great CPO staff and finding opportunities to build additional resources, as well as building upon the relationships that I, and the staff, have with CPO leaders and members. We are in this together and share the goal of informing our communities, and providing opportunities to be part of the decisions that affect their, and our, lives.”

Onward, uppity citizens!


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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
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Portland, Oregon 97291
© 2016