Craig Dirksen has been named as the 2018 recipient of the Tigard’s First Citizen award. Named in honor of John E. Cook, this award recognizes someone who has made in-depth, long-term volunteer contributions to the Tigard community over the years. The winner is active, involved, interested, and enthusiastic about making Tigard a nice place to live and work. This individual excels in any area of unpaid endeavor of education, social services, youth work, and community improvement of public services. This award is given in the spirit of all volunteers who remain unknown. The recipient joins the ranks of those previously honored in continually striving to improve the Tigard area.\
Craig has served as a volunteer in many areas in Tigard for the last 38 years. His volunteerism began when he and his wife Jackie served on the board of the Tigard Soccer Club for several years. That club later became Southside Soccer club. He then moved his volunteerism into many different areas of the City of Tigard on committees and task forces such as the Tigard Parks Board (1.5 years), Tigard Downtown Task Force (4 years), Tigard Budget Committee (6 years), Tigard Transportation Task Force (3.5 Years), Tigard Citizen Involvement Team as a Facilitator (8 years) and Tigard’s Intergovernmental Water Board (3 years).
Taking it to another level, Craig served on Tigard City Council as a Council member from 2000 to 2003 when he then was selected by his peers to serve as Interim Mayor of Tigard. As City Councilor, Craig played a major role in the Tigard Mayor’s Youth Forum, the predecessor of the current Tigard Youth Advisory Committee. The citizens of Tigard later elected Craig as Mayor and he held that position until 2014.
Craig has also played a large role in the local transportation system, much needed in a community trisected by three major highways. As mentioned earlier, he was on the Tigard Transportation Financial Strategies Task Force and was a member of the Governor’s Transportation Task Force. He was Co-chair for the Yes for Tigard Campaign and is on the SW Corridor Steering Committee. Craig currently serves on the Metro Council representing Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood. He was selected to represent small cities as Chair on Metro’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT).
Aside from these roles, Craig was previously a member of the Domestic Violence Resource Center Board, and is currently a Royal Rosarian, on the WEA Board of Directors and on the National Policy Board of Transportation for America.
As you can see Craig has engaged at a broad level across Tigard and the Portland Metro communities. It is obvious that he has a passion for helping in the place that he lives and its community members. Here are but a few examples of his impact.
- His tireless advocacy for the acquisition of Parks and Open Space led the city to increase city-owned parks and open space from 288 acres in 2000, to a whopping 550 acres by 2014! The Dirksen Nature Park is named after him and is one of the largest parks in the city’s portfolio. It serves educators as a learning laboratory for science and nature and brings beauty to visitors.
- Years of advocacy from Mr. Dirksen were validated by Metro’s designation of Barbur Blvd/Pacific Highway corridor as the next Regional Priority Corridor for High Capacity Transit. This transit project will link Tigard to downtown Portland and Tualatin. The designation is a monumental step in addressing citizens’ top priority for their elected officials.
- While a Tigard City Councilor during Jim Griffith's Mayorship, Craig was closely involved in the campaign that led to the construction of the current Tigard City Library
- When an effort failed to find a compromise for the I-5/99W connector, Mr. Dirksen successfully lobbied the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to have the $3 million allocated for the project transferred to the reconstruction of the McDonald/Pacific Hwy/Gaarde intersection.
- As an active member of Tigard’s original Downtown Task Force, Craig helped drive a successful ballot measure which created an Urban Renewal District for downtown Tigard. The Knoll at Tigard, a $10.8 million construction project, was the first housing development created in the Downtown Urban Renewal District. In addition, Craig was an advocate for incentive programs for Downtown Tigard to help drive property and business investment and development. One of these was a Façade Improvement Program for Main Street property and business owners. The program provides grants or no-interest loans to "restore and improve" building frontages in the area. It is designed to encourage businesses to make façade improvements by providing professional design assistance and matching funds.
These are just a few examples of how Craig Dirksen has served the community of Tigard over a lengthy number of years as well as the impact he has had on the livability of our community. Whether it is improved transportation/connectivity, increases in trails/parks, revitalization in our downtown core through establishment of a URD and various landlord/tenant incentive programs, or his focus on youth from coaching soccer to safer routes to school and making Tigard one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People, Craig has had the best interests of Tigard at heart!
Please join us in congratulating Craig on his award and thanking him for all his service to our community. His award will be formally presented with Tigard volunteer and business awards at Tigard’s 2018 Shining Stars Community Awards Gala held on Friday, April 27th from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Embassy Suites – Washington Square, our event location host. With a theme of “Masquerade”, this elegant themed event includes a silent auction, dinner, awards ceremony, dessert dash and more. Tickets are $55 per person. Grab your mask and join us to celebrate Tigard!