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Traffic, the Southwest Corridor, housing and homeless issues all part of Tigard council candidate discussion

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Six residents are running for two open seats on the Tigard City Council. See how they stand on the issues in this week's The Times.(This story has been corrected from its printed version to reflect the views of Liz Newton regarding her stance on the Southwest Corridor light rail plan.)

Six Tigard residents have thrown their hats into the ring with hopes of securing a seat on the Tigard City Council in the November election. They are: Liz Newton, John Goodhouse, Bret A. Lieuallen, Jenny McCabe, Ahsha Miranda (A. Miranda on the ballot) and Bill Banash. The top two vote-getters will receive a seat on the council in January. Among the issues that the candidates recently answered questions about were addressing large budget cuts over the next two years, traffic congestion, affordable housing, issues facing the city's homeless population and more.

BILL BANASH

Bill BanashBill Banash, a healthcare consultant who holds a bachelor's degree in business from Oregon State University and a master's degree in conflict resolution from Abilene Christian University, said while being the only member of his family who didn't serve in the military, he later discovered there are other ways to serve including volunteering in general and in politics as well.

The lifelong Tigard resident said he believes his youth would give the council a "different energy."

Banash said his priorities include public safety, traffic, providing city services (library, social services, etc.), proper budget management and providing affordable housing.

A football player while at Tigard High School, among Banash's priorities are expansion of city parks and recreation activities, which would include adding recreational turf fields.

Although he hasn't been on any local boards or commissions, in the past Banash has been a volunteer for Special Olympics. The following are his take on local issues:

Traffic, congestion and Southwest Corridor/MAX line:

He called traffic and congestion in the city a real boondoggle, saying he never expected to be totally stopped on Highway 217 or Durham Road. He said there needs to be a multi-prong approach to figuring out traffic problems but thinks the new MAX line coming into the city is a wonderful idea.

Housing issues:

Banash believes there's a large need to find a solution to the affordable housing crisis around the area. "We need more multifamily units," he said. He said the city needs to partner with local groups and other cities to "address the foundational piece of homelessness: not having a secure home." Banash, who is taking part in a homeless simulation project with Calvin Presbyterian Church to gain a deeper understanding of the problem, said once housing is established social workers, mental health professionals and those working in addiction services should step in.

"It is not a Tigard or Oregon issue, it is a national issue and one that can be solved with leaders who understand the importance of community," he said.

Budget priorities:

"Public safety should always be a city's number one priority regardless of size or population," he said. Related to crime, he would like to see more city connectedness by increasing parks and recreation programs as well as having neighborhood task forces join in partnerships with police. He would like to see traffic issues addressed as well.

"Our neighborhood streets are being utilized as cut-throughs and traffic bypasses with the vast increase of congestion on our roads."

JOHN GOODHOUSE

John GoodhouseFor incumbent John Goodhouse, a member of the Tigard City Council for almost four years, Tigard needs to continue to be an active community. As a larger city, Goodhouse said the city needs to make sure it's on par with Portland and at the table when dealing with Metro and Tri-Met (the latter of whom he says is trying to bully the city). An independent insurance agent who owns his own company, Goodhouse said he's been the biggest thorn in many local jurisdictions' sides when it comes to making sure Tigard gets the needed road improvements and parking structures needed. Still, while standing up to those jurisdictions, Goodhouse said the city still needs to work with its partners around the area. Meanwhile, he wants to see proposed improvements to downtown Tigard because, "People want a downtown they can come to."

Traffic, congestion and Southwest Corridor/MAX line:

Goodhouse said he has been actively negotiating on behalf of Tigard residents regarding the Southwest Corridor, assuming the project comes to Tigard. "The residents of Tigard deserve a project that adds value to the city and not a project that simply passes through Tigard," he said. Goodhouse said the city is helping out to make sure improvements are made on Highway 217 and that there is signal synchronization at intersections in Tigard.

Housing issues

: Goodhouse noted that the city did not take a stance on the upcoming Metro bond levy, pointing out that the city recently was unable to pass a local option levy. Despite that, Goodhouse said Tigard needs to return to its residents with some type of alternative levy to prevent cutting deeper into police personnel. Also, he said the city is looking at a sliding scale for SDCs to help spur development of affordable housing and wants to work with builders to come up with better ways to address the affordable housing issue. He said affordable housing, something the city is working to provide, would allow people to work and live in the same area, reducing the distance people travel and ultimately helping with congestion.

Regarding homelessness in the city, Goodhouse said he's the one who proposed creating a homeless task force, which is still functioning. He noted that having mental health services available for the homeless is something that's badly needed.

Regarding the Tigard Triangle, Goodhouse said if it's done right, in 50 years it will be a Pearl District.

Budget priorities:

Goodhouse said he wants to bridge the gap between revenue brought in and services the city is required to fund. Also, he said the city will need to come up with a solution by July 1 to prevent layoffs of Tigard police officers due to the budget shortfalls.

BRET LIEUALLEN

Bret LieuallenA member of the Tigard Planning Commission, Bret Lieuallen believes the city must protect funding for its library, parks and police services. In addition, the lifelong Tigard resident said he is a supporter of performance audits and wants to prioritize traffic "decongestion solutions," especially along Highway 99W.

Supportive of plans for the Tigard Triangle — an area where the city has approved a so-called "lean code" to make it easier for developers to receive project approval — Lieuallen called the Triangle "quite beautiful" with a plan for a mix of multi-story condominiums and ground-floor small businesses.

Traffic, congestion and Southwest Corridor/Max line:

 While much attention has been paid to the proposed light rail extension from Portland to Tualatin, he believes there's a need for better Tri-Met bus service. "Tigard citizens are demanding increased bussing service, and no one has been listening, probably because the federal government doesn't throw money at busses," he said. One way to address traffic congestion is to increase bus opportunities in Tigard, said Lieuallen, saying current service is "abysmal."He said he doesn't believe enough time has been spent lobbying for traffic and bussing issues by the city in Salem. That's because too much attention has been paid to the proposed Southwest Corridor light rail project, said Lieuallen, a project he said will do nothing to reduce Tigard traffic or congestion. If the plans for the Southwest Corridor light rail were to place it through the city's population center instead of along the eastern edge of the city where no residents reside, light rail may have more of an impact, he said.

Housing issues:

 Lieuallen said the reason the Portland-metro area's affordable housing crisis is so severe is that there's a desire to protect the region's beauty, diversity and growing manufacturing base.

"There's no denying that we compound this shortage with our traditional choice to protect our farms and natural beauty with an artificially created urban growth boundary," said Lieuallen. Regarding the city's homeless residents, he noted that the Portland-metro area has developed a reputation for being "friendly" to homeless individuals, noting the increases in homelessness are due in large part to a lack of affordable housing and decreased national funding for those who are homeless, many of whom have mental health problems. While supportive of helping the homeless, he pointed out that even "if Tigard provided 20,000 beds tomorrow, the city would simply draw 20,000 new folks to the area."

Budget priorities:

Lieuallen said public safety is the obvious priority, followed by keeping a seven-days-a-week library schedule. He said parks maintenance should continue to be a high priority as well and that systems development charges — those fees paid by developers to pay for infrastructure — should be increased to pay a higher share for the necessary permitting and engineering. However, he suggested rewarding development that focuses on housing the city has critical shortages of by proposing a sliding SDC scale.

JENNY MCCABE

Jenny McCabeAn information technology project manager who graduated from the Oregon State University with a degree in business administration, Jenny McCabe said some of her priorities include providing safe routes to school for children. The mother of three, McCabe noted that routes to many Tigard schools aren't always that easily accessible. She counted congestion in the city a major issue as well.

In addition, McCabe said she wants to make sure there are recreational opportunities available for everyone including having funding available so that underprivileged children can afford to participate in recreational opportunities. While she would like to be supportive of community events, McCabe said she wants to keep Tigard taxes affordable as well.

Traffic, congestion and Southwest Corridor/MAX line:

McCabe said with increased density come problems with the roads but there needs to be a solution, pointing out that another lane can't be added to Highway 99W. Supportive of the MAX Orange line when it opened in 2009 (where she remembers it was a big enough event to take her young son to the grand opening to witness it), she said the proposed Southwest Corridor light rail project is already over budget. In addition, she said she doesn't believe the line currently has the needed population to make it affordable and that it would result in the removal of too many businesses. She doesn't think people will move to MAX until they are forced to.

Housing issues:

McCabe said there was a need for more affordable housing but had concerns that a larger percentage of the Metro housing bond would benefit Portland. Meanwhile, she praised Just Compassion, the Tigard agency that works with the homeless and recently opened a day shelter/resource center for them, providing resources and mental health resources. (McCabe has volunteered there in the past and said there's a need to provide services for those without homes.)

Budget priorities:

McCabe said while she doesn't think cutting police services is an answer to budget problems, at the same time she said cutting parks and recreation programs isn't the a better solution especially with childhood obesity already a major health concern throughout the nation. In addition, she said cutting back on library hours is not a good idea either if we want to improve education opportunities for children.

AHSHA MIRANDA

Ahsha MirandaAhsha Miranda, whose name will appear as A. Miranda on the election ballot, said she believes another voice is needed on the current council (which is currently composed of all men). Extremely interested in urban planning and involvement, she described herself as balanced, patient and resourceful.

At the same time, Miranda said her focus is on having "smart growth" occur in the city and would like to make sure a large scale infrastructure is in place for new development. Also of concern is congestion, an issue she said that needs to be solved by thinking outside the box. In addition, Miranda said she's extremely interested in the inner workings of the city.

Finally, Miranda said community engagement is important, noting that while the city tries to engage residents, there's not always the same amount of engagement returned by residents. She said she is intent on raising a calm, curious and kind child. She said in order to have the community we want, everyone needs to work together.

Traffic, congestion and Southwest Corridor/MAX line:

Noting that she commutes to Portland, Miranda said she would like to see the Southwest Corridor route contain more stops and routes closer to downtown Tigard.

Housing issues:

Miranda said she believes housing infill and creation of accessory dwelling units, commonly referred to as ADUs (small units attached or detached from single family homes) are ways to address affordable housing. Still she said that developers don't develop to be nice, rather to make money and the city should think about some type of grant program. She said she likes the idea creating an urban village in the Tigard Triangle and would like to see the council continue to encourage development there. She said while not perfect, she's supportive of Metro's housing bond, noting that "at this point, anything is better than nothing." Regarding the homeless, Miranda said some of the issues might be providing easier access to garbage disposal, noting that some people know where homeless camps are based on the trash they see and call police as a result. She supports seeking grants in helping to find solutions for the homeless.

Budget priorities:

Miranda said in the past she has had a hard time finding programs for her children, having to go to other cities. However, in prioritizing issues, while upset library programs will be cut, she is concerned about cuts in public safety as well. Miranda expressed support for the city's plans to build a downtown plaza, likely on a 1.18 acre piece of property on Burnham Street.

LIZ NEWTON

Liz NewtonLiz Newton said she is running her campaign based on priorities, people and partnerships.

A longtime former assistant Tigard city manager who worked for the city for 37 years before she retired in 2017, she currently serves on the Tigard Budget Committee. Newton said one of the top issues she would like to see addressed would be to look at finding solutions in cutbacks in the city's general fund, which is a long-term issue.

In addition, Newton said she wants to address traffic congestion through focused conversations with ODOT and Washington County and the continued maintaining of the investments the city has already made to parks and roads.

Newton said what she's discovered in the past is that by working with other agencies the city has been able to solve many of its problems.

Traffic, congestion and Southwest Corridor/MAX line:

"I'm a big advocate of transportation options," Newton said. She said she has concerns about the current Southwest Corridor light rail proposal incuding the station location on the east side of Hall, along with its connection to downtown Tigard and the location of a proposed operation and maintenance facility. While she does support future study of the Soutwest Corridor light rail proposal, Newton said the current proposal needs to be revised so it benefits Tigard.

Meanwhile, Newton said Tigard needs to be at the table during any type of transportation issue, advocating for what's best for Tigard and its residents.

Housing issues:

Newton said she would like to talk with Washington County housing officials to get an idea of what they think the best solution is for the affordable housing dilemma, noting if the exact plans for funding are too specific it ties the hands of those trying to help residents find affordable residences. While she still has questions related to Metro's housing bond, she added, "We need to do something." Regarding homelessness in the city, Newton said one way to help the situation would be by aiding Tigard police who need resources to connect with the homeless, pointing out that the city has made headway to addressing some issues. She pointed to the Tigard Public Library as one success the city has had in aiding the homeless, noting that access to library computers is provided one night a week and that one librarian has made it so a social worker can come in to help answer questions the homeless might have.

Budget priorities:

Newton said public safety is a key issue, noting that officers dedicate 40 percent of their patrol calls to incidents related to homelessness and domestic violence. She said having enough officers on patrol is very important. She noted what appears to be of less concern to residents are proposed two-day-a-week closures of the library in the next budget cycle. Meanwhile, she said maintenance of city parks is an important with many city residents, something she wants to focus on as well.

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