Another election comes to Sherwood
It's impossible to talk about the upcoming Tuesday, March 13, special election for mayor without first acknowledging the reason it's happening in the first place.
Krisanna Clark-Endicott resigned as mayor in October, after attempting to replace the YMCA with an out-of-town health and fitness provider, and while facing a possible recall. That effort left the Sherwood City Council, and the town, bitterly divided — and resulted in the recall of two council members a couple of weeks later.
Now, both candidates for mayor of Sherwood — Keith Mays, who already served four terms as mayor from 2005 to 2013; and Sean Garland, who moved to town with his family six years ago and has sat on the council since last year — say that restoring the public's faith in local government is a top priority.
"I certainly wasn't expecting to run for mayor so soon," Garland told the Gazette. "But after the issue that we had ... I think it was important at that point to establish some continuity with our City Council. I think it's important for our citizens to feel that our council is working well together, and that there isn't any more disruptions or conflict moving forward."
Mays said that he wants to follow the lead taken by Interim Mayor Lee Weislogal in "being transparent, working well with everyone, and give everyone a chance to bring up topics that they consider important — just open the tent, and bring everybody in."
In addition to restoring the council's reputation, Mays and Garland identified several common goals in their separate interviews with the Gazette — though their ideas for accomplishing those goals at times differed.
Both candidates want to find more funding for the Sherwood Police Department. As Mays pointed out, "the calls-for-service numbers have just gone through the roof the last 12 to 24 months, and they haven't been able to do as much proactive work and community policing, and that's about staffing."
Garland is interested in specifically bringing on another School Resource Officer, or SRO, to work with the Sherwood School District. The department currently has just one SRO.
"Other surrounding cities have many more than we do," Garland said. "A lot of what the SRO does is advocacy for the police department, and it's also about prevention — working with police departments at an early age, getting them to trust police officers, to work with police officers. And having police officers embedded in schools can prevent a lot of crime."
Also in the realm of public safety, both candidates pointed out the need for better pedestrian safety. Mays said he'd like to install a couple of foot bridges over Highway 99, so that students can safely get to the new high school when it opens in 2020. Garland, meanwhile, would like to launch a public campaign encouraging drivers to watch out for pedestrians.
Garland said he also wants to look into applying for more small business development grants, because he sees small businesses as bringing a lot of "charm and character" to Sherwood.
Mays said he wants to better utilize the city advisory groups, rather than commission outside studies for different issues, which he sees as wasteful spending.
"Instead of trusting staff, studies have been ordered," he said. "Let's watch our pennies, because we have a lot of rising costs that we need to address. ... When I was mayor, we brought in a lot of money, and we committed a lot of money to things in town."
The city of Sherwood recently submitted an Urban Growth Boundary, or UGB, letter of interest to the Metro Council, asking to transform 626 acres of land north and west of city limits into Sherwood West. Both Garland and Mays acknowledged that given projections of how Sherwood could grow in coming decades, there's a clear need for a development plan — but Mays said he's opposed to establishing Sherwood West in 2018.
"There's no support out there for a request today," he said. "It would just be rushed, and so it's best to first understand what the community's desires are through this comprehensive plan project, and then go from there."
Mays added that, because the Metro Council is now accepting UGB asks every three years, instead of every five to seven years, there doesn't need to be such a rush to expand.
"Sherwood needs to spend this bucket of money wisely, and understand what the community wants, and then decide what should be asked of Metro, potentially in 2020."
Garland said he supports the Sherwood West plan, and that it's the best solution for growth in Sherwood, unless folks want to see "more homes on smaller lots" inside current city limits.
"We do need to look at the housing analysis we have projecting what Sherwood is going to look like in 20 years, and we think we need to realize that those people are going to need a place to live," he added.
When asked why Sherwood residents should vote for him, Garland said that his day job, as a senior project manager for the state of Oregon, gave him the tools necessary to be mayor.
"The main qualities that a successful project manager has to have in order to complete projects, is they have to be able to plan, have to be able to execute the plan, and also a huge part of project management is communication," he said. "As project manager, you work with a diverse group of people."
Garland added that he has no political aspirations higher than mayor of Sherwood — and that after last year's disagreements, he received many unprompted calls to run for mayor from residents who appreciated his calm, thoughtful presence on the council.
"I've been part of that process of healing that divide, that schism that we had," he said. "And the citizens have reached out to me through that process, and asked me to run for mayor."
Mays, when asked the same question, referenced his past record as mayor of Sherwood, which included guiding the city through the 2008 Great Recession.
"We utilized the strength of our budget committee, and we hunkered down and ended up having monthly meetings to help recalibrate city government," he said. "We had to downsize and adapt. It's never easy, but when you bring people in, it makes it a lot easier."
Watching last year's chaotic political happenings prompted the former mayor to feel "an obligation to serve," he said.
"From the sidelines, in whatever other capacity I've had, it's been frustrating what to see what was going on: self-inflicted wounds, and folks just not looking out for Sherwood first."
Whoever wins the March 13 election will soon face another election in November, as the current mayor term expires at the end of the year.
And whatever happens, one thing is clear: after a whirlwind year for Sherwood politics, Garland and Mays want to keep things civil.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story said that Sherwood had submitted a 1,291-acre are in its Urban Growth Boundary letter of interest. That is incorrect; the city only submitted 626 acres out of its 1,291-acre Sherwood West Urban Reserve area. The Gazette regrets the error.
Follow me on Twitter