Wilsonville Council president cites unfinished business in push for second term

Photo Credit: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Wilsonville City Council President Scott Starr announced July 30 he intends to run for re-election in the general election in November. Wilsonville City Council President Scott Starr was elected in 2010, he said, with the assumption his time in office would be brief. Probably just one term.

But things change with time. And for Starr, it’s actually the city’s success that led him to announce that he intends to run for re-election in November.

“I think it’s been an honor to serve, and I think from the beginning of the United States our forefathers really didn’t intend people to serve forever,” Starr said. “But to come in, make positive changes, get out and let others get in and do their thing.”

That’s how Starr entered office in 2010 alongside Richard Goddard. Both men were elected in part because of their insistence on trimming city spending by at least $1 million. They’ve done that. But whereas Goddard announced several months ago he does not intend to seek re-election, Starr now says the unfinished business he sees in front of the council is compelling enough to change his stance.

“I thought after a while that others could come in,” he said. “But there were just a few things that were left undone, not finished, and I wanted to see what kind of resolution we could bring to them. My time ran out, and the only way I can see them through is re-election.”

Foremost among the issues propelling Starr’s run for a second term is the status of a proposed new aquatic and community center for Wilsonville. A citizen task force is currently examining a first draft of a possible center presented at a recent meeting. The proposed $25 million facility would include two pools, several basketball courts and activity rooms for seniors and children, Starr said.

“I’m knee-deep now in the task force,” he said, “pushing everything through and trying to understand what the costs could be and eventually getting it on the ballot.”

He said he anticipates the public could see a final proposal by sometime in 2015, complete with funding mechanisms, after which it could be put to a public vote.

“Probably next year we’ll have it and serve it back to the public and say ‘Here it is: If you want it this is the cost and the scope.’ And the people will have to vote on it.”

Other issues Starr identified as crucial to his decision include the ongoing planning efforts in both the Basalt Creek and Coffee Creek industrial areas in north Wilsonville, as well as a massive regional effort to tap Willamette River water for use by a host of metro area communities.

“It’s just seeing those things through,” he said. “It’s going to take another year or two years for all that to work its way through the system in one way or another.”

Starr also cited the value of experience in helping him understand the need for just that in determining the fate of long-term, strategic issues.

“There are things that I am knee-deep in, that to just walk away and have to bring someone else up to speed — when we’re talking about the water, it’s a billion dollar issue — these aren’t things you haphazardly bring someone up to speed on and go,” Starr said. “I didn’t want to toss away the depth and understanding I’ve accumulated over the last four years when the decision point might come six months from now, or 12 months from now.”

There’s also the matter of business that already has been wrapped up. For Starr, this includes what he considers a dramatic makeover of the culture inside Wilsonville City Hall. From the top down, starting with City Manager Bryan Cosgrove, he said, the city has changed its approach to customer service in a profound way.

“When Richard Goddard and I first came in we said we wanted a much stronger customer service culture that had to be driven by the leadership of the city,” he said, “not by the rank and file. It had to be from the top level and that culture wasn’t really there then, and you better believe it is now.”

In turn, Starr added, this has had a very noticeable effect on the local business community.

“I know that it’s working because I’m getting emails from many people in the business community,” he said. “And remember, I was the president of the chamber and I heard many businesses say ‘Oh, Wilsonville is a headache to deal with, I don’t like working with them,’ and now we’re getting emails like ‘Oh, they are so helpful, so fast, we love coming here.”

By Josh Kulla
Assistant Editor / Photographer
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