Six candidates are vying for three open seats on the Hillsboro City Council this fall, and say what you will about the candidates (and we will), we are glad to see so much diversity in this year's race.
Candidates for Hillsboro City Council this year are gay, straight, old, young, conservative, liberal, union members and blue collar workers. They come from every walk of life and political persuasion this city can provide, and it's great to see so many people wanting to get involved in the political process.
Hillsboro, unlike Forest Grove, Cornelius and several other Washington County cities, has its candidates run in geographic wards, rather than at large. Voters will have their say on all three wards on Nov. 6.
In Ward 1, a far reaching district which represents everything from Jackson School Road east to Tanasbourne, Beach Pace and Eric Muehter are squaring off to replace outgoing Council President Darell Lumaco, who is term-limited.
There's a lot of similarities between these two candidates. They both live in the same neighborhood in Jackson School, both served in the U.S. military — Pace commanded an Army bomb squad and Muehter served as a hospital corpsman in the Navy — and both believe strongly in the government's ability to help people who need it most.
We're endorsing Pace in Ward 1. She has spent the last few years "reconning" (her words, not ours) the City Council, learning the ins and outs of city government. She has spent the past few months on the planning commission, where she's gained some experience managing the city's never-ending growth. She's a woman who doesn't make any decision on a whim and is prepared to address the city's challenges. She is clearly qualified, knows her stuff and would bring a unique perspective to a council made up almost entirely of men.
Muehter, her opponent, is clearly passionate about serving his community. He currently serves on his homeowners' association board and has helped conduct union contract negotiations for employees at Oregon Health & Science University hospital. But his ideas need just a little bit more polish before he's ready for City Council. We'd love to see him on the city's planning commission or the budget committee. If he puts in the time and gains a bit more city government experience, we expect he'll make a fine candidate in a few years.
The race to represent Ward 2, which serves the central part of Hillsboro from 10th Avenue to Cornelius Pass Road, is an easy call. Voters elected Kyle Allen four years ago, and Allen has proven himself to be a thoughtful member of the council. He'd like to see more affordable housing in the city, supports plans for inclusionary zoning, and would like to increase the city's contributions to Portland Community College's Future Connect — a program that offers scholarships to poor and first-generation college students every year. All that, along with his commitment to building sidewalks around Hillsboro schools, is laudable.
Allen is pragmatic, and knows what it takes to bring about change. It wouldn't surprise us if he aspires to further political office someday, but for now, we strongly encourage voters to re-elect him to the City Council.
Allen is opposed by two candidates for his seat, John Shepard and William Joseph Fields. Neither, we believe, would make effective city councilors, nor do we see them as serious challengers to Allen's campaign.
Shepard means well, but his ideas for ending the homeless crisis in the city — he'd like to see an opt-in program where homeowners can essentially "adopt" homeless men and women to live on their properties — is clearly out of touch, and that's putting it nicely. He'd also like to see fair-like attractions, such as popcorn machines and balloon artists, at city parks to make the city seem more "fun."
A third opponent in the race, Fields, is an unemployed "urban organic food forester" currently studying for his real estate license. He said he wants to see the city slash its property taxes and is strongly against the city's sanctuary declaration last year. He is also against the city's plans to offer gigabit internet service to the community as a city utility, a service he referred to as "literally fascism" in a video he posted to Facebook last month.
Fields is a strong supporter of President Donald Trump, a fact he brings up regularly. This certainly doesn't disqualify him in our eyes, but he is focused, largely, on state and federal issues, rather than addressing local ones. In conversations with our reporters, he has gone on diatribes about the fake news media, the state budget, MS-13, illegal immigration, overregulation, fascism and "the red tsunami," a reference to a wave of conservative voters he believes will turn out in force to elect Republican candidates this fall.
Fields was the only candidate who did not meet with our editorial board. In a note sent three days after his scheduled interview, Fields said he forgot about the meeting, and that he found endorsements from the media and others to be "almost a badge of shame" as it shows conformity with "the establishment."
Olivia Alcaire is the lone candidate in Ward 3, which represents the city's downtown up to Glencoe High School and south along Tualatin Valley Highway to Witch Hazel. She was appointed to the council a year ago, and we aren't surprised to see that she has no opponent. She jumped headfirst into the debate over sanctuary cities, and she has shown no signs of backing down on social issues. She deserves four more years at City Hall, and with no challenger on the ballot, she's overwhelmingly likely to get them.
Voters in Hillsboro will decide on each of these races on Nov. 6. Pace, Allen and Alcaire are easy choices. Voters can mark the bubbles next to their names with confidence and quickly move on to the more challenging fields on their ballots.
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 Luis Hernandez and John Colgan for Cornelius City Council, and Tom Johnston, Malynda Wenzl and Devon Downeysmith for Forest Grove 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.
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