BEST questionnaire asks LTD board members about key issues, receives one response

By Claire Roth
May 26, 2022

The Lane Transit Board of Directors is about to select a new general manager, arguably their most important responsibility. To gain insight into the needs of LTD, BEST invited each board member to complete a questionnaire asking about issues they see. 1 out of 7 board members chose to do so.

Eugene Station. Source: Lane Transit District

The Lane Transit District board of directors is selecting a new general manager to run the agency, arguably their most important responsibility. See “LTD Announces General Manager Finalists and Community Forum Date.”

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. On May 5, BEST invited each board member to complete an online questionnaire by May 17.

Only one board member, vice-president Don Nordin from Cottage Grove, chose to do so.

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 board members. Interim general manager Mark Johnson suggested that updated board member bios on LTD’s board member web page would be more appropriate than a questionnaire from BEST.

Below, BEST presents the one response to the questionnaire we received as well as biographical information for all LTD board members.

Questionnaire Responses

The following responses are from Don Nordin, the sole board member to complete the questionnaire.

Don Nordin. Source: Lane Transit District


Please begin by telling us about yourself.

How frequently do you travel in each of the following ways?

  • Driving alone?
    Few times a month
  • Carpooling?
    Few times a year
  • Riding a public bus?
    Few times a year
  • Bicycling?
    Several times a week
  • Walking?
    Several times a week
  • Using a mobility device?
  • Telecommuting?
    Several times a week


This section will focus on your views of LTD.

Looking internally, what do you see as strengths of LTD as an organization? What does it do well?

Lane County and the Eugene/Springfield area are fortunate to have a well organized, well equipped, and professionally run transit district. Much credit goes to the late Richard Eymann, who served in the Oregon legislature in the early 1970s who’s efforts secured a payroll tax to fund public transportation for Lane County.

Looking internally, what do you see as weaknesses of LTD as an organization? What could it improve upon?

A major disruption in our board a year ago [ed. note: “LTD Board Votes to Release Report”] coupled with a global pandemic has affected the top of the institution. I believe that there will be a self correction as a new general manager takes the helm and the board , with the help of interested community members, can focus on the ongoing effort to provide the best service.

Looking externally at our area, our state, and the nation, what opportunities do you see for LTD? What positive trends can help LTD serve the public better?

One positive is that our fleet has aged to the point that replacing vehicles gives the district the opportunity to replace that fleet with low or no emission vehicles. The industry is experimenting and in some cases implementing Mobility on Demand (MoD), Mobility as a Service (MaaS), micro transit, and autonomous vehicles. There is more collaboration between agencies. ODOT is adjusting its focus away from highway only and embracing interactions with active transportation. Although Peter DeFazio was disappointed in the [transportation bill] delivered by the U.S. Senate as so much less than it could be, the public did get a major commitment to investment in transportation infrastructure.

Looking externally at our area, our state, and the nation, what threats do you see to LTD? What negative trends could make it harder for LTD to serve the public effectively?

There is still going to be a perception problem as the existing 40-foot bus fleet is going to appear underutilized while ridership slowly returns. Depending on public push back we may have to spend more sales effort to maintain momentum.

What do you currently see as the most critical issues facing LTD on which you and other board members should focus?

There will be some board turnover at the end of the year. I hope transportation-oriented advocates will apply for those positions. Ask yourself, are you willing to serve?


This section will focus on your efforts as a LTD board member.

How frequently do you engage with the public you serve in each of the following ways?

  • Participate in LTD board or committee meetings?
    Several times a week
  • Participate in other government meetings?
    Few times a month
  • Participate in other public events, e.g., LTD open houses or neighborhood meetings?
    Few times a year
  • Participate in other community groups, e.g., Rotary or Chamber of Commerce?
    Few times a year
  • Meet in-person or virtually with community members?
    Few times a month
  • Email or text community members?
    Few times a month

Considering all forms of public engagement, with which groups in our community do you engage regularly? For example, local elected officials, chambers of commerce, neighborhood groups, transportation advocates, social service providers, K-12 & higher-ed, etc.

Since I am in Cottage Grove, I avoid driving an automobile as much as possible and bus service to and from our area is designed for commuting, this discourages me from coming to the Metro area unless I can aggregate several chores in a trip. Since COVID, many of the gatherings I might have attended are not held or are limited to Zoom meetings. I am a board member of the Cerro Gordo Land Conservancy in which we engage youth from a local school to remove invasive species on Conservancy land. I meet with an entrepreneur group sponsored by “RAIN.” I meet with building officials involved with my construction project. I am involved in an effort to gather an interest group to affect the development or preservation of a natural area as “Friends of Mt. David.” I participate in a garden club in helping to maintain a public pocket park on Main Street, Cottage Grove. I am present when issues of climate change, sustainability, and social justice groups arise and I am in the mood to join whatever action comes up.

I meet with whatever effort I can engage in to encourage the development of a mobility hub in Cottage Grove

Since becoming a LTD board member, of which accomplishments are you most proud? What role did you play in these successes?

A lot of it is simply being present. The LTD board as I have experienced it functions more as oversight than direction. One thing I feel that I had an affect on was the preparation in encouraging a discussion of a public transportation link to Florence. So, when House Bill 2017 was passed the elements were in hand to apply for the funding and Link Lane was formed probably more quickly than it might have otherwise. This was an effort on LaneACT, which I serve on as a part of being an LTD board member.

While you are still a LTD board member, what do you still hope to accomplish? Which steps are you taking to do so?

Again, accomplishing things move so slowly. One thing I still hope to do is to get at least a serious discussion about making the publicly owned roof and shelter tops available for solar or other energy development to add a bit more resiliency in the event of disruptive events. I would also be pleased if LTD took a more active role in promoting active transportation perhaps with a stronger connection with Cascadia Mobility. I believe there could be greater use of bicycle trailers and cargo bikes.

Is there anything else you want the public to know about you and your service as a LTD board member?

(no response)


The following biographical information is adapted from Lane Transit District.

  1. Gino Grimaldi
    Representing: east Springfield to the McKenzie Bridge area
    Term expires: 12/31/2025

    Now retired, Mr. Grimaldi was the city manager for the City of Springfield. Previously, he was the city manager for the City of Ashland and the assistant city manager for the City of Springfield.
  1. Michelle Webber
    LTD Board Treasurer
    Representing: west Springfield and northeast Eugene areas
    Term expires: 12/31/2024

    Ms. Webber has worked for over 25 years in the banking industry and is an Assistant Vice President for Columbia Bank.

    She has served in leadership positions on the Springfield School District Board, Springfield Public Library Foundation, Springfield Rotary Club, Springfield Education Foundation, and the Wildish Theatre.

    Ms. Webber was just elected as the Springfield City Councilor representing Ward 1.

    See also profile on LinkedIn.
  1. Don Nordin
    LTD Board Vice-President
    Representing: southeast Eugene, Creswell, Cottage Grove, and Lowell areas
    Term Expires: 12/31/2022

    Mr. Nordin is a graduate of the University of Wyoming and owns Equinox Industries LLC, a pioneer in convertible human-powered trailer systems.

    He was a Peace Corps Volunteer and is a member of the West Cascade Peace Corps Association, serving as a member of the board of the National Peace Corps Association in the early 1990s.

    He served on the Cottage Grove Planning Commission (2000–2005) and Community Sharing Board (2000–2005). He founded the Friends of LTD in 1995, co-founded the Friends of Mount David in 2001, and is a founding member of the Board of the Cerro Gordo Land Conservancy.

    See also profile on LinkedIn.

  1. Emily Secord
    LTD Board Secretary
    Representing: north Eugene (east of River Road) and the Coburg areas
    Term expires: 12/31/2022

    Ms. Secord is a financial advisor.

    See also profile on LinkedIn.
  1. Pete Knox
    Central and West Eugene, including the Representing: University area and downtown; and the Whiteaker, Jefferson, and West Side neighborhoods
    Term expires: 12/31/2025

    A graduate of Washington State University, Mr. Knox is an independent computer & network security professional. Mr. Knox regularly uses the services of LTD.

    See also profile on LinkedIn.
  1. Caitlin Vargas
    LTD Board President
    Representing: west Eugene/Highway 99, River Road, and Junction City areas
    Term expires: 12/31/2022

    Ms. Vargas earned a B.A. from Sonoma State University and a M.B.A. from Northwest Christian (now Bushnell) University. Having worked in the nonprofit and private sectors, she is the startup community director for Onward Eugene. She was recognized by the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce as a 20 Under 40 Award winner.

    “Born and raised in Eugene, I am honored to be selected as a board member for Lane Transit District Board.

    “Working in non-profits the last 8 years, both in workforce development and at Lane County’s only emergency shelter for the homeless, I have extensive first-hand experience in the importance of public transportation for disadvantaged populations in Eugene and Springfield.  My interest in serving on the board stems from the transformations I have personally witnessed in hundreds of people who are able to climb out of a poverty situation thanks to getting to their new job (or job interview) on the bus!

    “Using my experience, energy and eternal optimism, I plan to advocate for those whose voices often go unheard and stories untold. I look forward to being part of the collaborative conversation to move the needle for our city’s economic opportunities.”

    See also profile on LinkedIn.
  1. Susan Cox
    Representing: southwest Eugene, Veneta, and Fern Ridge areas
    Term expires 12/31/2024

    Ms. Cox has over 25 years as an adoption and child welfare advocate and until recently was the Vice President of Policy and External Affairs for Holt International Children’s Service. Ms. Cox’s work extends nationally and internationally as a respected leader on child welfare, adoption, and foreign affairs. Notably, she was appointed to the first White House Commission on Asian and Pacific Islanders.

    See also profile on LinkedIn.

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