Q&A with candidates running for Cornelius City Council
Read what two of three candidates for the Cornelius City Council have to say about how to engage with Spanish-speaking residents, urban renewal, business investment and two high-profile properties that could see development. One candidate, Sujey Hernandez, did not return answers to the questions.
Candidates were limited to 150-word answers. Their responses have been edited for clarity.
What can, or should, Cornelius do to engage its Spanish-speaking residents in city issues and volunteer opportunities?
Doris Gonzalez: City Council decisions impact the livability and livelihood of everyone who has chosen to make Cornelius their home. We need to reach out to our Spanish-speaking residents by providing bilingual City Council materials and communications. Increase outreach to civic and community organizations and ensure diverse representation on City boards and commissions.
Angeles Godinez-Valencia: Currently there is a huge disconnect within non-English speaking communities; improving civic participation and trust will require reconnecting residents with their government and demonstrating that participation in local efforts yields results. It's important to understand the issues that are important to this demographic because the more we engage in what's important to them, the more encouraged they'll be to participate. We must also look at how we're communicating with them, what languages are the materials in and how are we getting the information out to the community. In order for Cornelius to create working relationships within all parts of our community, we need to form partnerships with trusted culturally specific organizations to help broadcast city resources and issues. It's important that we work with these trusted organizations to create committees focused on resolving specific issues facing our community, made up of government officials, experts in the field, and community members.
How would you seek to guide Cornelius' urban renewal process during your term?
Doris Gonzalez: Cornelius was recently awarded the "Public Involvement and Participation" award from the Oregon Chapter of the American Planning Association. This award highlights the commitment to create meaningful communication and to positively impact the community with a focus on connecting with residents that have traditionally been under-represented. I would love the opportunity to further this effort by ensuring transparent and inclusive public outreach as urban renewal projects and expenditures are chosen. I will listen to the community and ensure a collaborative approach.
Angeles Godinez-Valencia: The Cornelius urban renewal plan is broken down into three parts: First it seeks to improve overall transportation networks in Cornelius by improving alleyways, streets, pedestrian access, safety, and reducing congestion caused by traffic. Second, it seeks to facilitate developments in Cornelius that stimulate economic growth by renovating existing buildings and providing developer incentives. Lastly, it seeks to strengthen and reestablish downtown Cornelius as the heart of the city to continue strengthening its sense of community by creating community gathering spaces and improving city spaces. I would help by assuring that we have adequate procedures for accomplishing each goal that was set in place for the urban renewal plan and that we engage our community in vital decisions that impact us all. It is crucial for the City to invest in our community infrastructure and small businesses to help our local economy grow and set the groundwork to build a safer community and help our small businesses be successful.
What would you like to see the Hillsboro School District do with the 40-acre property it owns along 345th Avenue?
Doris Gonzalez: Cornelius is the second-largest city in the state without its own high school. As Cornelius continues to grow it would be beneficial to plan for the development of a high school. Eventually, I would like to see our students all served by either the Forest Grove or Hillsboro District instead of split between the two.
Angeles Godinez-Valencia: Since most of the surrounding properties along 345th avenue will be developed for housing, the Hillsboro school district will most likely turn its property into a school. I urge the district to properly evaluate the schooling needs in the area to make sure they're preparing to meet the future needs of the community. Personally, I would like to see a high school because the forest grove school district only has one and as the population continues to grow, it would help alleviate a lot of the traffic and class sizing issues that currently impact our community.
What is your stance on the proposed waste transfer station in northwest Cornelius' industrial area?
Doris Gonzalez: I am an environmental, health and safety professional and have recently joined Metro's West Recycling and Transfer Center Community Advisory Group. It is important to ensure the environmental impacts and community concerns are addressed before the addition of the transfer station is approved. The work of the advisory group has only just gotten underway and will determine if this is a good fit for our community.
Angeles Godinez-Valencia: As a city, we need to consider our carbon footprint and how we can save the environment. The proposed transfer station in Cornelius would solidify our commitment to environmental justice. This transfer station is a public facility that would bring jobs with living wages and benefits, provide access to various recreational amenities and disposal options for household waste materials such as paint, needles, batteries, cleaners and hazardous chemicals.
Currently, there is an advisory group that has been working since August 2020 to learn about the potential transfer station in order to educate the community. Metro needs input from our community, so a survey and informative webinars will be scheduled soon to provide information about this facility and its impact. It is important for the city to improve its infrastructure, and create systems to educate community members on the resources that a transfer station would bring to Cornelius.
What can, or should, Cornelius do to attract business investment?
Doris Gonzalez: The Urban Renewal Plan, when fully realized, will help revitalize downtown Cornelius by providing a funding stream to help attract residential and commercial investment. Cornelius should continue to listen to what its residents need and together develop ways in which to strengthen our local economy.
Angeles Godinez-Valencia: It is crucial for the city to invest in our community and in small business development strategies to help our local economy grow and to help our small businesses be successful. Navigating the process of starting a new business can be challenging for many individuals and so it's important to provide community members with the necessary resources in helping them get started; from filling out paperwork to figuring out financing. The city is currently working on attracting small businesses through the urban renewal plan but we also need to provide resources to support small businesses to recover from these challenging times and grow as we navigate the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic: Halting or deferring financial burdens placed on small businesses, creating a local relief fund with various financing options, creating a central online repository for resources and information are all efforts that will save our small business community.
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