Growth possibilities focus of Sherwood candidate forum
All candidates on the ballot for the upcoming March 13 Sherwood special election participated in a candidate forum Monday evening at the Council Chambers. Tim Rosener and Russell Griffin both are running to keep their spots on the City Council, and Sean Garland and Keith Mays are running for mayor.
The forum was hosted by the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce and Sherwood High School Youth in Government, and moderated by local realtor Tom Ogden and Sherwood High senior Matthew Schantin.
Sherwood's possible expansion into Sherwood West and last year's political controversy over renewing the YMCA contract were both heavy topics of discussion. Questions also touched on recreational cannabis, the Senior Center and community involvement.
City Council candidates
The forum began with opening statements and about 15 minutes of questioning for Rosener and Griffin. Both men were appointed to the City Council last year after the town recalled two councilors who had faced public scrutiny for wanting to replace the city's YMCA contract with an out-of-state facility. They both are running unopposed to keep their seats.
In his opening statement, Rosener called himself a "servant-leader" and said that "to me, it's not official until people take their pencils and vote for me to be on this council."
Griffin echoed Rosener's sentiment, and added that he looks forward to continuing a productive year for the City Council.
"Things are calming down, and we really have the tires hitting the road, and we are getting a lot of things done," he said.
Ogden's first question to the council candidates: "How will you address your duties as councilor if faced with decisions on matters that may publicly or politically be contentious?"
Griffin answered that he did not bring a partisan outlook to his work on city council, and that he always encouraged Sherwood residents to reach out to him and share their thoughts.
"I talk to people in Walmart all the time," he said. "They always find me in the candy aisle, I don't know why that happens."
Rosener said he also values public input, and that "we have some great staff, and they provide us with a lot of great info that's really helpful as we look at our decision-making process."
Schantin then asked the candidates what they think are "are the biggest challenges for city council this year?"
Both council members said that potential growth is the most pressing issue facing Sherwood at this time. That thread then was taken up by the mayoral candidates, who took questions for about 30 minutes.
"I'll be one vote against sending such an (Urban Growth Boundary) request to Metro this year," Mays told the audience in his opening statement, referring to a 600-acre UGB request that the city could send to Metro in April. Those 600 acres likely would turn into Sherwood West, which has the potential to house an additional 15,000 Sherwood residents.
"That's basically doubling the town," Mays, who previously served as mayor for four terms, said when answering a later question about the UGB. "We'll need to expand the library, expand city hall, expand the public works department. We just want to make sure we're doing it right, and we're doing it gradually."
Garland, the current City Council president, took a different view when speaking about Sherwood West.
"If we don't grow in that area, what's going to happen is, housing prices will go up, and people are going to need somewhere to live," he said. "If we don't grow there, we're going to have developers buying up lots, and putting more houses on smaller lots, and I don't think that's the ideal look people want to see in Sherwood."
The candidates took a question from Schantin about recreational cannabis sales, which Sherwood has voted to ban twice in the last two years. Mays said that he believed Sherwood voters had settled the issue. Garland said that although he personally supported the legalization effort, he would not take up the issue as mayor or city councilor.
Ogden asked Mays and Garland how they would commit city resources toward the Sherwood Senior Center, and involve senior citizens in that process. Management of the Center has changed hands a few times in recent years, and the city now manages it.
"We need to support the Friends of the Senior Center, to make them hopefully more involved again like before," Mays said, adding that he'd look into whether the YMCA might play a role in Senior Center management in the future.
Garland said that the public needs to be better educated on how the Center functions, and that "I do want to promote the Senior Center. It's really heavily run by volunteers."
When asked about lessons learned from last year's YMCA contract controversy, Garland said that in the future, he'd convene a citizen committee to score potential city partners' proposals before the Council considered them.
Mays agreed, saying that "The structure of the process was flawed out of the gate, as Sean alluded to, and that made it hard on everybody."
Ballots have been sent out for the March 13 special election.
Because the current mayoral and councilor terms are already halfway over, the winners of this election will serve through the end of the year, then face another election on Nov. 6.
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