FONT & AUDIO
Endorsement: Colgan, Hernandez for Cornelius
Editor's note: This endorsement is part of an ongoing series of editorials in advance of the Nov. 6, 2018, general election. Also in this Oct. 10, 2018, issue, our editorial board endorses Tom Johnston, Malynda Wenzl and Devon Downeysmith for Forest Grove City Council, and Beach Pace, Kyle Allen and Olivia Alcaire for Hillsboro City Council. Our endorsement editorials in the previous issue on Oct. 3, 2018, recommended voters elect Kathryn Harrington as Washington County Board of Commissioners chairwoman and approve Ballot Measure 26-199. Our Sept. 26, 2018, endorsement editorial recommended voters reject Ballot Measures 103 and 104. Our Sept. 19, 2018, endorsement editorial recommended voters reject Ballot Measure 105. Our Sept. 12, 2018, endorsement editorial recommended voters approve Ballot Measure 102.
It's disappointing that Cornelius is one of the few cities in Washington County without a woman serving on its City Council, and it's disappointing that after just four candidates, all of them men, filed for three seats this year, it will remain so come January 2019.
That isn't to say, though, that we aren't pleased to see Mayor Jef Dalin running for re-election — he did not draw an opponent — and a couple of new faces in John Colgan and Luis Hernandez, who bring fresh perspectives and a wealth of experience to recommend them in the three-way race for two councilor positions.
Colgan is a mathematics teacher who works at Neil Armstrong Middle School in Forest Grove. Hernandez is an emergency manager at Portland General Electric who has kids in Hillsboro public schools. Both are already city volunteers with important duties: Colgan has been serving on the budget committee since 2017, while Hernandez has been on the planning commission since 2016.
When asked why they are running for City Council, both Colgan and Hernandez talk a lot about wanting to bridge the divides they see in Cornelius — between the city's slim Latino majority and the rest of the population, between the families who live within the Forest Grove School District and the families in the Hillsboro School District, between the city's young residents and older adults.
"I just kind of feel like there's a lot that happens in our town, and very little of it gets discussed by everyone," said Colgan, who expressed frustration with poor attendance at many of the city's public meetings, including this year's budget sessions.
He added, "I would really like to see more participation in our community."
Hernandez offered similar thoughts. He has a different perspective than Colgan, both as a member of the city's Latino community and a parent living at the east end of town, in the portion of Cornelius that is within the Hillsboro School District, but he sees many of the same issues.
"We need to have a united Cornelius," Hernandez declared.
We've written before on this page about the remarkable civic pride that many Cornelius residents feel, despite their town often being regarded as a waypoint on Highway 8 in between its larger neighbors. A 125th-anniversary celebration this past spring was well-attended by an audience that reflected the city's melting-pot demographics, and a city-wide cleanup event is one of Cornelius' most enduring annual traditions. We would like to see more community events in Cornelius, especially of the sort that appeal to a broad cross-section of residents, and we can see Colgan and Hernandez providing a strong, combined voice for that on the City Council.
We also think that Colgan and Hernandez's professional backgrounds make them particularly well-suited to this often thankless job.
Colgan — who stressed that if he is elected, he wants to be succeeded on the council in four years by a woman, a person of color or both — already works in the community, teaching children of families of all socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Hernandez has experience in both the public and private sectors working in emergency management, a position he pointed out requires a lot of collaboration between different layers of government, businesses and community groups, as well as a focus on community-building, which he said has proven to be one of the most important ways to improve the "resilience" of a population in the face of disaster.
We are looking forward to seeing what Colgan and Hernandez can accomplish as city councilors, and we believe they will represent Cornelius well.
A third candidate, Andrew E. Dudley, is also running in the election, although he appears to have gotten a late start on campaigning. A security guard who used to work at the Cornelius Walmart, Dudley has no prior experience in elected office or volunteering with the city. In his interview with our editorial board, he listed his top issue as encouraging more city residents to register to vote, and he said he believes neighborhood parking and affordable housing are also paramount issues (though he did not have any opinions about Metro's affordable housing bond).
Many of Dudley's ideas seem to focus more on schools and public education than city government — for example, he noted that compared to countries like Germany, the United States is "far behind" on dual-language programs in schools. He would have little to no influence over issues like that as a city councilor, and we'd encourage him to get more involved with city boards and commissions to get a better handle on local issues.
One further thing that concerns us about Dudley: Unlike Colgan and Hernandez, he did not avail himself of an invitation for an interview with this newspaper when candidate filing closed in August. As a result, our first meeting with Dudley, and consequently our readers' first opportunity to read in detail about his candidacy in the newspaper, was his sit-down with our editorial board for this endorsement editorial. If Dudley does run for another office in the future, we would like to see him more proactive in engaging with the community — including with the News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune — earlier in the process.
The decision in this race is clear. We encourage votes for Colgan and Hernandez for Cornelius City Council.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.