Mayoral candidates address problems of growth, policy
In the eight years Bill King has served as Sandy mayor, his reign has never been challenged. Sandy native Stan Pulliam changed that. The Post spoke with King and Pulliam to find out where they stand on contemporary issues and remind constituents of their options on Election Day, Nov. 6.
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King has resided in Sandy since 1975 and owned Bill's Automotive for the past 30 years. He has also served as a member of the Sandy Kiwanis Club since 1998, is a member of the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce and a former chamber board member.
"I love Sandy because of the people, the location and the proximity to year-round recreation opportunities and the sense of community," King said.
Pulliam is a Sandy High graduate and works as an executive in the commercial insurance industry. He also serves on the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee, the Sandy Community Action Center Board and the board for the nonprofit Children's Course.
"I was born and raised in the Sandy community. I grew up going to local public schools, participating in team sports and going to Sandy Mountain Festivals. After a brief stint traveling for college and work, I returned just over 10 years ago with my wife MacKensey to raise our own family," Pulliam told The Post. "I love living in Sandy because it's always been my home — many of my neighbors today are the same ones I grew up with sharing outdoor recreational activities and the Sandy Pioneer spirit."
SANDY POST: Why should you be elected/re-elected?
MAYOR BILL KING: Because Sandy is at a critical point with our development / growth and its looming challenges in our immediate future, and we need a mayor that has both experience and knowledge of all the issues that will need addressed. Someone who has developed relationships with other government officials at the state and county level who can assist with expertise, advice and possible funding sources.
Stan Pulliam: As someone who grew up here, I've watched our city face challenges that our mayor has failed to address. While we sit in traffic and scratch our heads at the lack of planning behind local development, City Hall debates whether or not we should ban plastic bags and straws. The politicians are out of touch, and it's time for a change.
Sandy is now the second-fastest growing city in Oregon. We need a proactive leader that will respect our past and traditions while steering us into the future. I want to help our great city reach its potential, a vision shared by all our neighbors of strong schools, less traffic congestion and a booming economy fueled by tourism and main street success.
POST: What would you consider your biggest accomplishment on Council?
KING: My biggest accomplishment since being elected is something that has affected nearly every citizen and most businesses in town and was certainly not accomplished by me alone, the credit goes to all of the City Council who took a chance and voted for a fiber-to-the-home project that has been emulated and envied in many cities around the country.
POST: Do you feel your current living situation allows you adequate time to fulfill mayoral duties?
PULLIAM: It's been said, "If you want something done, ask a busy person." While it is true that as a husband and father with a full-time career and involvement in our community, I am a busy person. That said, I've already demonstrated the ability, passion and commitment to dedicate to our city and the office of mayor. I'm already a fixture at our City Council meetings, community events and service organization meetings. I have the experience and vision to be an effective leader. As a lifelong resident of our area, I have the passion to get it done.
POST: List and rank what you consider the most important issues facing Sandy in the next five-10 years.
KING: The most important issues facing Sandy in the coming years are as follows:
n Finding a world-class city manager to replace Kim Yamashita.
n Our growth with all the challenges that it includes, for example: the added burdens placed on our limited resources for public safety, transportation, sewer capacity, senior services. Not to mention the services the city does not provide even though we meet with and work together to mitigate negative affects on both our school district and fire department resources.
n The Sandy Community Campus project, "the pool," the grounds and the community center.
n Alleviating our extreme traffic congestion.
n Taking a balanced approach to growth as Oregon's second-fastest growing city.
n Building a booming economy fueled by tourism and main street success.
n Addressing the increase in homeless camps. We need a plan to make sure Sandy doesn't turn into the city of Portland with its aggressive panhandlers and sidewalk campers.
n Securing adequate funding for public safety to keep our neighbors safe.
POST: What was your stance on the recent council decision to consider banning plastic bags?
KING: I was initially supportive of the plastic bag ban, but after further reflection, public input and a review of council policies I believe that we should encourage recycling and reuse and lead by example as opposed to bans and forced policies as per council policy.
PULLIAM: This is about priorities. If the residents of our great city are sitting in stop-and-go traffic all day, City Hall needs to solve that first. If the goal of a plastic bag ban is to honor and protect our environment, let's do that by relieving traffic congestion that leads to excessive idling, which in turn pollutes the air at a much higher rate than traffic that is moving freely. It's good for business, families and the environment. It's a win-win for everyone, but it's going to take someone willing to actually tackle the problem. I'm ready to do that.
POST: What was your stance on the recent council decision to conduct a city-led search, as opposed to one utilizing a search firm, to find a city manager replacement?
KING: I believed and still do, that a city manager search can be conducted by a staff/council/community-led committee can be as effective as a "headhunter"-led search without the expense incurred by a for-profit firm.
PULLIAM: Despite now being Oregon's second fastest-growing city and facing unprecedented challenges as a result, our mayor is satisfied going down yet another internal city staff-driven process that has resulted in unpopular decisions in the past like his gas tax proposal or his new Sandy brand that many feel doesn't represent our community. We need to be able to attract the highest quality, experienced candidates to help our city face the challenges ahead.
Our Mayor points to the cost of an external and wide-netted search as a deterrent. I would contend that the long-term costs of not hiring the proper person is far more expensive. Just look at the city's current contingency fund as proof. As a result of not properly vetting the details of the Sandy Community Campus project in the forefront, our city is now pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into a project that has little to no long-term vision and has the potential to be a bottomless money pit funded by taxpayers.
POST: In what ways do you think the city government could stay in front of the rapid growth and maintain Sandy's livability?
KING: The city of Sandy can stay in front of rapid growth and preserve our small town livability by ensuring that development conforms to our codes and maintain or improve our standards for public safety, public services and being responsive to community concerns to the extent allowed by local and state land-use laws.
Pulliam: Sandy has not developed a strategic plan for growth since Linda Malone served as our mayor in the late 1990s and spearheaded Sandy's 2040 Master Plan. Experts will tell you that cities should develop a master plan every 10 to 15 years. When your city is the second fastest-growing community in Oregon, this lack of planning is negligent.
It's no wonder our citizens are left scratching their heads when they see the lack of vision behind many of our city's development projects. As mayor, I'll work with all of Sandy's stakeholders — our residents, local businesses and community organizations — to plan and implement a 40-year plan. The plan will consider future changes and issues, and lay the plans for the future of our city.
We all made the decision to live in Sandy, most of us for the same reasons. Now is the time to work together to proactively preserve the things we love about this wonderful town.
POST: Given the expense of the proposed Sandy Community Campus project, do you feel optimistic, pessimistic or realistic about its possibility of being funded within the next 10 years. What should be done with that property?
KING: I am both optimistic and concerned about The Sandy Community Campus project. The city has funding to proceed with the project (urban renewal funds) although the scope and scale of the project and the overall project cost need to be closely examined and evaluated with regard to needs vs. available funding going forward. I believe the city should continue to solicit input from our residents to make a determination on the project. Pool renovations, parking and field-use options would be my recommendations until additional funding is secured.
PULLIAM: The Sandy Community Campus Project can serve as the lynchpin for an exciting and prosperous future for all of us. This project could allow us to completely revitalize the Pleasant Street neighborhood into a vibrant gathering place for our community and allow us to not rely so heavily on a downtown core that has a state highway running through it. But to get there, it'll take the kind of vision and proactive leadership that I plan to provide as our next mayor.
Unfortunately, our current mayor has been negligent in offering no long-term vision for the property or a way to fund it. The result of this lack of vision could be seen at a recent council meeting when we were forced to transfer nearly $500,000 from our general and contingency funds to subsidize Olin Y. Bignall Memorial Pool for the remainder of the biennium. This left one councilor saying our contingency fund is at its lowest point in the last decade.
Before purchasing the pool and the neighboring property, there should have first been both a short and long-term plan for the property provided and a properly vetted funding mechanism attached.
As Sandy's next mayor, it will be one of my highest priorities to provide such a vision. To move forward, both the pool and the community campus will need proper and stable funding. Taxpayers need to be the ones to decide the future of the project. I would therefore support the consideration of a ballot measure for our citizens to decide on whether or not they'd like to fund such a project in the form of an Oregon Trail Parks District. Not only would this district provide a long-term and stable funding source for the Community Campus Project, but (it) could additionally do the same to improve both the access and enjoyability of Sandy's beautiful yet extremely underfunded and poorly kept parks.
POST: Do you consider the planning department "business friendly?" What recommendations would you make to improve relations between the city and the business community?
KING: I do consider our planning department to be business friendly. However, there is always room for improvement. Staff is currently working on sign code updates to simplify (the code). This is the sort of thing that is discussed in weekly "business-friendly" meetings to identify issues and refine code as needed. Our Economic Development director was hired to assist businesses and prospective businesses in having successful interactions with planning, development and permitting departments.
PULLIAM: As the result of not continually updating our plan for growth, our planning department does not receive proper vision from our elected leaders to balance the concerns of our residents while also being "business friendly" to local development. When these projects are presented, city planners have no plan or guidance for growth from our elected leaders, nor any feedback from the community to help guide their decision-making process.
This is why putting together a collaborative and community-focused 40-year plan for growth is so important. Additionally, City Hall needs to be better in communicating and engaging with our community. They should be collaborative, transparent and engage in an ongoing in dialogue with all citizens, including local business owners.