Thia Estes became mayor of Hubbard with the new year and has prioritized business development and community engagement
Thia Estes was set to be sworn in as mayor of Hubbard Tuesday evening, but since the New Year she has already hit the ground running.
One of Estes' first priorities is to get the City Council more engaged in the operations of the city.
"I'm excited about it because I feel we weren't as engaged in the past," Estes said. "We want to be sure we do what we were elected to do."
Estes said she hopes to have a workshop with the council to discuss their individual priorities.
Only time will tell what kind of impacts this will have.
"It's a delicate balance," Estes admitted. "I don't want to step on any toes but I see battles. I've heard a lot of, 'this has always been done this way' and I think that shuts the door to new ideas and growth. Hubbard has missed a lot of opportunities because we just do the same as usual."
One particular way Estes wants to break that barrier is when it comes to business development. Not only does this include cleaning up vague ordinances, but it also means a potential partnership with SEDCOR, which, with council approval, could assist the city in administering a survey to existing businesses as part of an economic development study.
"I hope to engage the city council to go to businesses and understand their needs, to develop better relationships," Estes said.
Estes said she hopes this will be the beginning of a drive toward revitalizing downtown and recruiting new businesses to the area.
Not only does Estes want to get the council and businesses more engaged, but also members of the community.
"I want to be a positive force for getting the community involved in the city," Estes said.
But this also requires the city to be proactive about reaching out to the community, she said. One way she hopes to be transparent is regarding the city's water, the source of many citizen complaints.
"We're working on a chart that shows where the money from your water bill goes," she said.
Getting the community more engaged could also mean more support of maintaining the Hop Festival, which was canceled last year.
"I'm trying to work to get everyone on board to make sure we have a community event this year," Estes said, noting that she is having discussions with the fire district, whose volunteers have always put on the festival.
With a police chief search, prioritization sessions and possible economic development partnerships, the new Hubbard City Council, mayor included, has a lot on its hands this year.
Besides seeing a new mayor, the city will have a new city councilor in Bradley Williams. Barbara Ruiz was re-elected to another term on the council. Both of them were also scheduled to be sworn into office Tuesday night.
Another change with 2017 is that Hubbard voters said yes to allowing marijuana-related retail businesses to set up shop in the city limits. Due to regulations, though, this would limit these kinds of spaces to the industrial area of town near the southern part of Highway 99E.
Estes has only lived in Hubbard for three years, spending most of her life in Salem and Idaho.
Estes has been a stay-at-home mom to her 10- and 6-year-old children, volunteering at their schools in the North Marion School District. She was named president of the Hubbard Parks Improvement Committee last year, and has gotten more involved ever since.
"I love the small town," she said about Hubbard. "I'm happy here."