ENDORSEMENT: Beaverton voters should stay the course
While the coronavirus pandemic has consumed much time, space and attention lately, there was a time — not long ago at all — when The Times was full to bursting with stories about development and revitalization in Beaverton.
We've written approvingly in the past about Beaverton's renewal. Individuals, businesses and community groups have banded together to give Beaverton, a city long derided for lacking a sense of community and interconnectivity, a beating heart.
And while the transformation of Central Beaverton from grungy gravel lots and dusty old shops to a district brimming with midrise buildings, new businesses and public spaces is the most visible sign of the new Beaverton, it's not the only one. There's also the Murray Scholls Branch Library, opened in 2010 and expanded in 2015, bringing library services to the southern end of town. There's the development of South Cooper Mountain, with Mountainside High School, first opened in 2017, as its crown jewel. There's the planning underway to turn the old shopping center across Highway 26 from the Sunset Transit Center into a mixed-use district modeled on Orenco Station in Hillsboro.
All of these efforts take a village, as the saying goes. And Beaverton is fortunate that its "village" has been led by Mayor Denny Doyle for the past 12 years.
Doyle says this is his last election — even if voters give him four more years in office, he's going to step aside in 2024.
That's probably for the best. We don't have concerns about Doyle's ability to do the job, but Doyle's challengers this year — City Councilors Cate Arnold and Lacey Beaty — are right when they say that new perspective can be a good thing.
Doyle has done an outstanding job as mayor and chief executive of Beaverton, though. He deserves to finish his time in office on his own terms, and voters should give him four more years to complete his work.
Doyle says he wants to see through projects that started on his watch, like the construction of the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts in downtown Beaverton and the improvement of the Allen Boulevard corridor. He's able to articulate a clear vision for Central Beaverton: more downtown housing, better nightlife and a business community that reflects Beaverton's increasing diversity.
More than one-fifth of Beaverton residents were born outside of the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The city has sizable Asian and Latino populations. Racially and ethnically, it's considerably more diverse than Oregon as a whole, and its demographics increasingly look more like its neighbors to the east and west — Portland and Hillsboro — than they do like Tigard, Tualatin, Wilsonville and Sherwood to the south, or Scappoose and St. Helens to the north.
"That's what the city is all about," Doyle told us of Beaverton's diversity efforts, especially the Beaverton Organizing and Leadership Development, which he credits for increasing the share of people of color who sit on the city's boards and commissions to nearly one-half.
As Beaverton grows and changes — its population will likely eclipse 100,000 early this decade, perhaps even by the time the 2020 Census results are reported in December — we believe Doyle is the right person to have at the helm over the next four years. He has a strong understanding of what is important for Beaverton to preserve, as well as what Beaverton needs to do differently as the middle part of the 21st century looms on the horizon.
This year's mayoral race in Beaverton is often framed in generational terms. Doyle is about 40 years older than Beaty, who planned her run for some time before announcing last fall that she would challenge Doyle in the election.
Beaty argues that her age shouldn't be held against her. As she points out, she was first elected to the Beaverton City Council at age 29 and is midway through her second term. She's been closely involved with city goings-on in that time, including the revitalization efforts and diversity initiatives.
"I don't think that my age should dictate whether I should really wait my turn," Beaty told us, fielding a question about why she decided to run in 2020 instead of seeking the office of mayor after Doyle retires.
Beaty and Doyle have butted heads at times, but they're on the same side of more issues than they're not. During her interview, Beaty made some excellent arguments about the need for Beaverton's leaders to make sure that renewal and redevelopment doesn't force out the city's working class, as well as to keep transportation issues firmly in mind when expanding or adding density. She's been an advocate for homeless youth in Beaverton and improving transit options.
But while Beaty isn't inexperienced, she doesn't bring the same kind of experience as Doyle to the race.
Doyle has managed Beaverton, quite successfully, for more than a decade. He's navigated through the Great Recession and weathered the budget crises of the early to mid-2010s. As we head into a time of great uncertainty, at the mercy of a virus we don't fully understand and can't easily predict, we trust his experience leading Beaverton through those past difficulties. He's a proven consensus-builder, a role to which the more activist, outspoken Beaty would have to adjust, and he's a respected leader and executive across the region.
We do appreciate that both Beaty and Doyle are focused on running to be Beaverton's chief executive, because that's a question on the ballot, too.
Over this editorial board's strenuous objections, the Beaverton City Council referred an ill-considered, overstuffed, ponderous new charter to the ballot this May that would drastically weaken the elected mayor and concentrate authority in the hands of an appointed city manager instead. It's to Beaty's credit that she voted against sending this shabby document to voters and placing it on the same ballot by which city residents will choose their mayor for the next four years, and that she remains a vocal opponent of the proposed change. While Doyle has been more circumspect, he pointed out in his interview with us that hiring a manager and adding a seventh member to the City Council will cost Beaverton money at a time it needs to be tightening its belt — and that his experience with the job is as a chief executive, and it's a job that voters should trust him to do.
Read our Jan. 30, 2020, editorial encouraging the Beaverton City Council to reconsider placing its charter proposal on the May ballot.
The third candidate in the race, Cate Arnold, was a last-minute entrant who is forthright about using her campaign primarily to boost the charter proposal, which she supports. She spent most of her time with our editorial board talking about the charter, with the mayoral race treated largely as an afterthought.
"The impetus for me running was recognizing that this is really something we need to do for the long-term health of our city. But I would be a good mayor," Arnold offered, before ducking a question about how she differs from Beaty and Doyle on policy.
Arnold isn't running for the same job as her challengers. Even if her charter is rejected by voters — as it should be — she says that as mayor, she'll hire a city administrator and hand over much of the city's day-to-day operations to them.
If that's what voters want, they could do worse than Arnold, who has years of experience on the Beaverton City Council and seems to genuinely believe the city would be better off if voters didn't directly choose who runs City Hall.
But if voters want to elect someone to do Doyle's job for the next four years, they should re-elect Doyle. He has the experience and the savvy, Beaverton has prospered under his mayoralty, and at a time when steady leadership is needed, Doyle is best-suited to offer it.
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