Charter change, mayor's role, topics of virtual debate for Beaverton mayor seat
The three candidates hoping to be Beaverton's next mayor discussed housing issues, traffic problems and a proposed change to the city charter during a "virtual debate" on Thursday, April 23.
The debate, held on the video conference platform Zoom, was sponsored by the Washington County Public Affairs Forum and the League of Women Voters of Washington County. It featured all of the contenders for Beaverton's top elected seat: incumbent Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle and challengers Lacey Beaty and Cate Arnold, both current members of the Beaverton City Council.
Doyle is in his third term as mayor. Beaty was first elected to the the City Council in 2014. Arnold has been on the council for 16 years.
This year's election is taking place against the backdrop of another local race that will have major ramifications for whomever emerges as voters' choice as mayor for the next four years.
The Beaverton City Council voted earlier this year to place a new city charter on the ballot. Measure 34-298 would throw out the charter voters approved in 1980 and replace it with an updated document — including a seriously reduced role for the mayor, whose powers as chief executive of the city would be given to a city manager hired by the City Council.
Arnold voted for that charter referral and has vocally supported it. Beaty opposes it and voted against placing it on the May ballot, where it shares space with the mayoral race.
Beaty criticized Arnold for what she characterized as an about-face. Arnold has pledged to cut her own salary from $185,000 to $85,000 if she's elected as mayor, but Beaty pointed out that she has voted against lowering the mayor's salary as recently as last year.
"If this had been an issue for you over the last 20 years, you should have moved quickly to change it," Beaty told Arnold.
Arnold responded that she voted against lowering the salary because she felt the subject needed to be looked at in more detail as part of changes in the city's charter.
Beaty said she would also take less than the current $185,000 salary if elected.
For his part, Doyle asked Arnold if there was something the pair had accomplished together during their tenures in office, with Arnold replying she could list numerous accomplishments. She stressed that she's not worried about Doyle's performance personally, but rather what could happen in the future.
"I really think, sooner or later, we are going to get somebody who is either inept or corrupt and you have not been that person," said Arnold. She said Beaverton needs a city manager to help the mayor out.
Audience questions included one from a student on the Beaverton Human Rights Advisory Commission, who asked Doyle why there hasn't been more transparency in the city's police department and an oversight role for residents.
Doyle responded that the city's police force performs well and receives few complaints. If there are major issues, the city will take an active role in addressing them, he said.
"But right now, the council and I are happy with the police force," Doyle added, "and that is the reason we haven't formalized anything. ... If we ever need to do that, we certainly will."
Doyle argued that the city has made progress during his tenure on areas like the revitalization of the city's downtown core area, more affordable housing options, the new public safety center at Southwest Allen and Hall boulevards, and more.
Doyle also said the city has been elevated regionally and nationally under his watch.
"My message to voters is really simple: We've made tremendous progress for Beaverton during my time as mayor," he said. "Let's keep making that progress."
Beaty framed herself as an advocate for people she said Doyle's administration hasn't represented well.
She pointed out that she fought against City Hall's opposition to paid family leave and testified in Salem to support its passage, saying without it, residents wouldn't have support during a pandemic when they need it most.
"The people of Beaverton can't wait for the status quo to shift in their favor. We have to demand it," Beaty said.
She added, "I have a record of being the leader fighting for our community when others haven't. That's the kind of mayor I'll be. The time for new leadership is now."
Arnold said during a time of pandemic, leadership is important and it must come from "a place of heart, from a place of connection, from a place of cooperation."
She concluded, "We need to find the people who have the best ideas of what we need to do next, and my hope is that I can lead and we can create that."
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