Four seek open seat on Beaverton council
Four candidates seek the Beaverton City Council seat — and lay claim to the legacy — of Betty Bode.
The outspoken Bode is vacating Position 2 after 16 years. She has been ill but continues to participate in council meetings by telephone.
The race boils down to one insider and three outsiders, though all of them bring varying degrees of community involvement to their candidacies.
Laura Mitchell is the current chairwoman of the city Budget Committee, which consists of public members and the five councilors — all of whom, including Bode, have endorsed Mitchell. So have Mayor Denny Doyle and the Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce.
Mitchell said she let Bode know in advance she would run.
"She did not have to do it for me, but she ultimately gave me her endorsement," Mitchell said. "It is more than an endorsement in print. It was from somebody who has seen me work."
The others are Patricia "Penny" Douglas, a customer service representative and a leader of the Vose Neighborhood Association; Kate Kristiansen, an artist and a school volunteer, and Brian Rhone, a diversity advocate and 2017 chairman of the city Diversity Advisory Board.
If no one wins a majority for the nonpartisan position in the May 15 primary, the top two finishers advance to the Nov. 6 general election. If someone wins a majority, that person will be the sole candidate on the fall ballot.
Douglas, 69, is a former real estate broker who has worked as a customer support representative for DAT Solutions of Beaverton for 20 years.
In addition to her activity on the Vose Neighborhood Association Committee, she has been on the Beaverton Committee for Community Involvement and the Beaverton Community Emergency Response Team, and has attended the Beaverton Police Citizens Academy.
She sees herself, according to her voters pamphlet statement, as "a voice of change in the established direction and interpretations of our community needs by our longstanding, elected leaders."
She advocates changing council elections from citywide at-large seats to districts.
She wants to give neighborhood association committees more city money — and more say — for reimbursements for sidewalk improvements, particularly those on designated safe routes to school. She also said assistance should be targeted to low-income households.
Among other changes Douglas has called for are a four-fold increase in code enforcement officers — there are now just two — and a mandatory rental inspection program. The latter proposal is under consideration as part of a broader city housing program.
But Douglas said Beaverton is doing a lot of things right.
"Beaverton is a diverse and growing city with great community forethought and visioning for our future," she said.
Kristiansen, 42, is an artist. Her most visible work is a mural, inspired by Harry Potter, at Sexton Mountain Elementary School.
She also is a volunteer in Beaverton schools — she has three children, one at each level — and in the Police Activities League. She also has been an ambassador for the chamber of commerce.
She seeks to have people observe less and participate more.
"I am hoping my enthusiasm and willingness to participate will begin a ripple effect of greater involvement," she said. "Even if you cannot change the world, you have to do your best to change where you are."
Among those she says deserve a greater voice in city government are low-income people, gays and lesbians, seniors and veterans.
A special interest of hers is the number of students in the Beaverton School District — which covers three times the population of the city — who "couch surf" at friends' homes or otherwise lack permanent shelter. The district's numbers led Oregon schools in 2017.
"We have to figure out how to get services to these kids," she said. "I think if we focus a little more effort on our younger people, we will have a stronger workforce and healthier city."
To encourage "affordable" housing, defined as no more than 30 percent of median household income, Kristiansen would endorse rent control, which would take a change in state law. But she also would support incentives for builders to develop below-market housing and hire homeless workers in the process.
Kristiansen supports a city plan for "active transportation" — which calls for millions to be spent on sidewalks, bicycle paths and traffic signal improvements — and also the planned Beaverton Center for the Arts.
"I am in favor of taxes that will support infrastructure for the long term," she said. "We do not get anything nice for free."
Mitchell, 37, is a property manager for a Portland firm.
During unemployment in 2009, she enrolled in the Beaverton Police Citizens Academy, which enables the public to learn about how officers work.
"It just started something that never stopped," she said. "I fell in love with the way the city was running."
Later, she led the volunteer panel that recommends how $200,000 should be divided annually among nonprofit social services agencies — a position that prepared her for the city Budget Committee in 2015. She was its chairwoman in 2017.
"Serving on the budget committee enables me to hit the ground running and learn effectively," she said, because a city councilor deals with a range of issues in addition to the budget.
On homelessness and housing, Mitchell said partnerships with other governments and nonprofit agencies are vital. "Beaverton cannot solve everybody's problems, because resources are scarce," she said.
She offers the same approach toward the Active Transportation Plan: "It's going to take years to plan out."
In a city with growing racial and ethnic diversity, Mitchell said she would promote wider availability of materials and civic training for residents whose first language is not English. "You also have to tap into their trusted resources" through their own existing community groups, she said.
Mitchell said that unlike others in this contest, she is not a single-issue advocate.
"I want this council seat to be in the hands of someone who cares, and who has a global vision of businesses and residents," she said. "Having someone who has that, and not being stuck on one part of society, is going to be important."
Rhone, who says he is in his early 50s, is a community relations event management consultant for the Urban League of Portland, and a management consultant with Diversity Workgroup LLC.
He was chairman of the city's Diversity Advisory Board in 2017, when Beaverton's first night markets began. The board also interacts with city agencies, including police, about how to improve relations with minorities.
"The glass in this case is half full," in that Beaverton is unique in having such a board, Rhone said. "But I would ask us to begin to implement some of these conversations."
Rhone has called for Beaverton to require "inclusionary zoning," which the Oregon Legislature decided in 2016 to allow cities to adopt. Only Portland has invoked it to require below-market-rate housing as part of new projects.
On homelessness, he said, "as a Beaverton resident, I have never seen a homeless person. I have never seen a person living or sleeping on the street," until he started campaigning for the council. "If people are aware, they would engage and do something about it," he said.
Unlike other candidates for Position 2, Rhone is not a supporter of the Active Transportation Plan adopted by the council earlier this year.
"I do not believe that transportation on a bicycle is more important than families who cannot eat or have their electricity turned off or wonder how they will survive in Beaverton," he said.
Rhone drew controversy earlier for saying that Doyle and the chamber of commerce "endorsed" him. Both have endorsed Mitchell, who announced for the seat weeks before the March 6 filing deadline — when Rhone filed.
Rhone has made no such claims in his voters pamphlet statement. But Rhone said Doyle signed his nominating petition to qualify his candidacy for the ballot. "He was under no obligation to sign it," Rhone said.
As for the chamber, Rhone acknowledged that some member businesses support him, but the organization endorsed Mitchell.