Mayor Steve Callaway spoke to a sold out crowd Tuesday during the Chamber of Commerce's On Topic forum

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - Mayor Steve Callaway (center) speaks to a Chamber of Commerce audience at the Walters Cultural Arts Center Jan. 10. It's only been one week since Steve Callaway was sworn in as mayor of Hillsboro, and he's already mapped out his top priorities for the coming year.

Along with seeing the city's Local Option Tax renewed by voters this spring, Callaway will immediately get to work helping to make the council a cohesive political body, he told the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce this week.

During a Chamber forum at the Walters Cultural Arts Center on Tuesday, Callaway fielded questions from both the Chamber's leadership and the public, revealing some of his thoughts as he begins his four-year term.

From North and South Hillsboro's industrial and residential developments to the city's greatest challenges in the coming year, Callaway let the audience know his stance on several issues the city faces in 2017.

One critical need throughout the Portland region is improved transportation infrastructure, he said.

Callaway said he recently met with Hillsboro's Rep. Susan McLain (D-Forest Grove) and newly elected Rep. Janeen Sollman (D-Hillsboro) to discuss the city's transportation wants and needs, but added the city will do its part as well to take care of residents and commuters.

"With our transportation utility fee, we are already investing in our roads," he said. "This gives us the opportunity to enhance what we're doing. We're not asking the state to do everything."

A couple of the big transportation infrastructure plans in Hillsboro are connecting Southeast Century Boulevard from the Tualatin Valley Highway to Highway 26, and connecting Cornelius Pass Road to the South Hillsboro residential development.

"We know it will have positive impacts," he said of South Hillsboro. "There are great opportunities that come with this. Certainly it will be good for businesses and the job market. As we are bringing in thousands of houses, those are going to need thousands of workers. For every house that's built, there are a number of jobs created — everything from realtors to landscapers and teachers for all the families with kids moving in. There are great opportunities for employment, and great opportunities to grow our community."

Hillsboro surpassing 100,000 residents in 2016. Callaway said that as the city continues to grow, there are ways for residents to maintain a sense of community.

"Get involved," Callaway said. "Know your community, know your neighbors. If we would get to know our neighbors better, that truly would help foster that sense of community better than anything else I can think of. If we would shop locally, eat locally, go to local entertainment — those are the kind of things that could help us know our community better, understand our community better, and truly talk our community up to other people."

Callaway added, however, that he didn't sense the growth had impacted civic involvement much.

"We just filled all of our commissions and boards," he said, marveling at the influx of applications received for this cycle. "And this was the first time a mayor race was contested since 2000.

"What I love is that people weren't getting involved because they're angry about how things are being run, or unhappy with the direction," he continued. "It's because they identify with Hillsboro, they care about Hillsboro, and they want to make a difference in Hillsboro."

The city has its challenges, too, he said.

"We have economic issues, we have infrastructure issues, and we have social issues. I don't think any of us expected some of the social issues that have come forward," he said, referring to the recent conversations around whether the council should declare Hillsboro a sanctuary city. "We all think about different things that impact and influence Hillsboro, so managing and working well within all of those, and addressing all of those successfully, is going to be our biggest challenge."

By Travis Loose
Reporter, Hillsboro Tribune
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