Two seats are up this month on the Beaverton City Council, and we are endorsing incumbent Marc San Soucie and newcomer Laura Mitchell.
The voting deadline is Tuesday. Today is the last day to mail a ballot, and the Washington County Election Office has a list of drop-off sites throughout the region.
The race for Position 5 is a tough one. San Soucie has had a good run on the council but he faces a solid, first-rate competitor in business owner Rafael La Grotta. He sits on the city's Diversity Advisory Board; he's an advocate for the Allen Boulevard improvement survey, which takes in an area where much of the Latino population resides; and says his election would give a voice to the one-third of Beaverton residents who are racial or ethnic minorities. He points out, correctly, that the city has "has failed to attract participation of different sectors of the minority community, especially the youth and small business owners."
It would be great to get some diversity on the council. And La Grotta has convinced us he's in for the long haul. We look forward to the time we can endorse him.
But San Soucie has been rock solid. He's a strong advocate of the city's ambitious Active Transportation Plan for $118 million in improvements in sidewalks and crosswalks, bicycle routes and traffic signals, which we heartily endorse. Before he won an unexpired term on the council in 2008, he sat on the county and city panels on citizen involvement, and also on the county and city planning commissions.
Among his other priorities: Completion of the Public Safety Center in 2020; a start to the Beaverton Center for the Arts, proposed on the former Westgate Theater site; continued transfer of in-city customers from the Tualatin Valley Water District; and evolution of the South Cooper Mountain development in the city's southwest corner. He also was a prime mover behind January joint meeting of the City Council and Beaverton School Board.
His history and his advocacy tell us San Soucie has been and will continue to be a strong member of the council. We endorse his re-election and we hope to see more of Rafael La Grotta.
The race for Position 2 is a little easier to call. The seat is being vacated by Betty Bode, who has been ill but who continues to participate via telephone when her health allows.
We are among those who believe rising through the ranks is the right way to earn a seat on an elected council or commission. Mitchell has taken part in the Beaverton Police Citizens Academy; she led a volunteer city panel on sharing funds nonprofit social services agencies. She served on the city Budget Committee in 2015, and became chairwoman in 2017.
On homelessness and housing, Mitchell favors partnering with other governments and nonprofit agencies. She advocates playing the long game to get the Active Transportation Plan right. And she wants to promote wider availability of materials and civic training for residents whose first language is not English.
She's earned her stripes.
Other candidates ran good campaigns as well. Penny Douglas advocates for zoned elections on the council, rather than everyone running the more expensive at-large races. She wants to give neighborhood association committees more money and authority regarding sidewalk improvements. She has called for an investment in more code enforcement officers; all good issues to rally around.
Kate Kristiansen has been a volunteer for the Beaverton School District and has participated in the Police Activities League. She'd like the LGBTQ community, low-income residents, seniors and veterans to have a greater voice in city government. And she wants to be an advocate for the school district's staggeringly high percent of homeless students.
The candidate who should have run a better campaign is Brian Rhone. He was chairman of the city's Diversity Advisory Board in 2017, and any advocate for diversity ranks highly with us. But two of his campaign answers were so mystifying as to disqualify him from office.
First, he said he was completely unaware of any homelessness in Beaverton before running for office.
But more bizarrely, he claimed that the Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce and Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle endorsed him.
The chamber didn't. Some members of the chamber might have. That's a pretty big error.
He also continued — up to and including in his endorsement interview — to say Doyle endorsed him. Even after Doyle endorsed Mitchell. When asked to explain, he produced his nominating petition to qualify as a candidate.
A signature that says "you should run" is not an endorsement for you to win. Doyle could have signed every candidates' petition to run. It's like saying you have a pizza and producing a sandwich to prove it.
He also said, since Oregonians vote in private, we'll never know if Doyle voted for him or not.
Yes we will. Doyle is voting for Mitchell. He said so.
We tried to unpack this story to see if Rhone really doesn't know the difference, or if he was trying to be crafty to reduce the impact of Doyle's endorsement of Mitchell. We still don't know which it is.
Our endorsements in next week's election are clear. Give Marc San Soucie and Laura Mitchell your vote for Positions 5 and 2. And hope to see Rafael La Grotta's name on another ballot soon.?
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