Beaverton City Council candidates get face time at forum
Candidates for two contested seats on the Beaverton City Council sought to draw distinctions with their competitors during a voters' forum Thursday, April 28.
The Beaverton Committee for Community Involvement hosted the forum for City Council candidates on Thursday, April 28, at the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts. The program featured Teresa Payne and Kevin Teater running for Position 2, Jenny Kamprath and Edward Kimmi for Position 3, and John Dugger, who is running unopposed for Position 5.
Ashley Hartmeier-Prigg is running unopposed for Position 1, the seat she currently holds. She was unable to attend the forum.
The forum was co-moderated by Bintu Foday Kemokai and Dori King.
Candidates had a chance to answer questions, give statements and ask their competitor one question — the "fun part," as moderators said.
What separates city volunteers?
Payne and Teater bring similar qualifications to the race for Position 2. Both have served on city boards and commissions, both are involved with downtown-area nonprofits — Teater is executive director of the Beaverton Downtown Association, Payne is one of 12 board members for HomePlate Youth Services — and both have made issues like housing, inclusivity and sustainability core components of their campaign platforms.
At the forum, however, Payne emphasized that she is also focused on public safety, a topic on which she took the opportunity to press Teater.
"I'm strongly against reorganizing or reallocating the Beaverton Police Department budget. And I'm an advocate for student resource officers," Payne said.
Teater's campaign website doesn't mention policing, and Payne asked Teater for his thoughts on the subject.
"For me, it's a conversation of where do we need an armed officer to respond," Teater responded, "and where can we just have social services support that can address the root issues of the challenge?"
In his question to Payne, Teater asked: "What do you see as the best working relationship and partnership that we can have after this campaign process is over?"
Payne told attendees that she and Teater have known each other since before the campaign, and before it started, they talked and decided they wanted to keep it civil above all else.
When the election is over, Payne said, she wants to continue to be professional and remain friends with Teater, regardless of which of them is elected.
"I think that he is a wonderful person, and as he stated, he wants to win. He is passionate and confident," Payne said. "But guess what? So am I."
Payne and Teater also highlighted their experience in the community. Payne, with her roles on the budget committee, diversity advisory board and more, said her experience and dedication make her a qualified candidate.
Her election would also be historic for the city, as Payne would be the first African American to serve on the council.
Teater said with his experience as executive director of the Beaverton Downtown Association and his role as a planning commissioner, he has the right connections to make an "immediate difference" if elected.
Different types of outsiders
In the Position 3 race, Kamprath set herself apart from Kimmi right away as a conservative voice.
"If you want change, you have to be willing to step up and be that change," she said. "Like many of you, I'm shocked at how fast a failed, liberal, progressive agenda has destroyed our country."
Kamprath focused her campaign on bringing "common sense" to Beaverton city government, which she says is lacking.
Providing a balanced voice in the council, keeping police fully funded and keeping SROs in schools were the top three priorities Kamprath listed at the forum.
Kimmi listed his top priorities as affordable housing, transportation and safety.
While Kamprath characterized herself as an outsider who has ideological differences with the City Council, Kimmi is endorsed by every member of the council, including Mayor Lacey Beaty.
All the same, Kimmi pointed out that he has a different perspective of his own to bring to city government. Born in South Korea, he spent part of his childhood in Kuwait before his family fled to the United States during the Gulf War, when Kimmi was a boy.
He said his lived experience as a refugee, immigrant and small business owner would help him improve Beaverton.
"I want Beaverton to be a thriving city," Kimmi said, "where you live, work and play, and make this home."
Dugger is running unopposed for Position 5, with the backing of much of the council. He's virtually guaranteed to be elected on May 17, with no qualified challenger.
Still, Dugger came out to Thursday's forum, which he kicked off with a statement about his plans for smart investments, government transparency and equity if elected.
Dugger would be the first openly LGBTQ councilor for Beaverton. Like Payne and Teater, he recited his experience in community leadership positions to back up his campaign.
"The problems facing our community require steady, experienced leadership," he said.
The candidate forum ended with a section where moderators offered an opportunity for dialogue between all five candidates present, something new to the forum.
Erik Lehr, who chairs the subcommittee that organized the forum, said the Beaverton Committee for Community Involvement has hosted the election forums for about 30 years. He thought the candidates did a good job distinguishing themselves at the forum, he said.
"I do think this is going to give voters a much clearer idea of who they're voting, what they stand for, and so on," Lehr said.
Following the forum was a presentation from Beaverton School District spokesperson Shellie Bailey-Shah on the school district's capital improvement bond, which will be on the May ballot.
A recording of the event will be available online in the days following the event, along with a broadcast schedule for TVCTV.
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