Four go head to head in race for mayor seat
A more-crowded-than-usual mayor's race is set for this November with four candidates vying for the seat, the most anyone can remember going back almost two decades (when the city started using electronic records), according to city officials.
Candidates include Marland Henderson, Linda Monahan, Jason Snider and Marc Woodard. Henderson is a former Tigard City Council member; Snider and Woodard currently serve on the council. Monahan has served on the Tigard Library Board on and off since 1987 and is a former president of the Tigard Library Foundation.
The candidates recently weighed in on their top issues as well as thoughts regarding traffic issues, the Southwest Corridor light rail proposal, housing (including the Metro housing bond, Measure 26-199), homelessness and budget priorities including the recent trimming of $2.5 million from the city's budget. Here are their thoughts:
After serving two terms as a member of the Tigard City Council, Marland Henderson says he's ready to be mayor.
"I feel more than confident I can do this," he said.
He said one of his priorities would be addressing the city's finances, pointing out, "I know we have money in the city of Tigard."
Earlier, in explaining his reason for running, Henderson, who owns Henderson Construction, said it is to sort out the "constant struggle in city government to balance limited revenue sources with just about unlimited wants and needs."
Henderson, said he believes the recent local option levy, which voters turned down, failed because there wasn't a complete understanding of what it was for. Among the issues that confuse voters, he said was that in addition to public safety, the levy asked for money to maintain city parks. However, Henderson said residents already see a parks fee on their water bills, causing confusion. (That money would go to different maintenance projects not covered by the water bill fee, city officials have explained in the past.)
Still, Henderson said he believes a money measure in Tigard can pass and is supportive of going out for another levy but it must be explained better.
Meanwhile, Henderson said he's also supportive of a city performance audit, conducted by "an outside professional to first determine what the needs are or not."
Traffic, congestion and the Southwest Corridor/Max line: Henderson said it's not solely Tigard residents traveling the city's roadways, rather it's motorists from all around the area.
"If it's just our traffic, we'd be able to solve it," he pointed out. Regarding the Southwest Corridor light rail route, which will go through Tigard, Henderson said Metro will make the ultimate decision but pointed out that 80 percent of those who live in Tigard work somewhere else and might not use it.
Henderson said he's supportive of the Tigard Triangle, saying the planned mixed-development space will provide a unique place to work and live in the same space.
Housing issues: As a developer, Henderson said he's supportive of the Metro housing bond, pointing out it's the right thing to do. Regarding homelessness and transient issues in the city, Henderson said that the city has teamed with local churches and developers to help address the homeless situation.
"The only way you end homelessness is by providing them homes," said Henderson, who also sits on the Washington County Behavioral Health Council.
Budget priorities: Regarding the city's general fund, Henderson said his main priorities are public safety first, followed by focusing on the public works department, the library and parks and recreation. Still, he said dedicated funds — including fees and charges — must be used only for their intended use.
"Parks and recreation fees are not intended to be used to support library and police shortfalls," he said. "Road maintenance fees are not intended to be used to improve sidewalks and handicap accessibility."
Linda Monahan has a master's degree in public administration and been a strong advocate of the Tigard Public Library over the years, having served on the library board as well as its president in the past.
One of her priorities is to ensure that the library stays open seven days a week. "The library serves the most diverse population in Tigard," said Monahan, noting that it is used as a cooling and warming center for those who need it in the summer and winter.
Monahan pointed out that as the city has expanded rapidly over the years, she has become concerned, especially as the latest budget deliberations unfolded. Part of the problem in deciding priorities, she said, is that the current council wants to chase after every "bright, shiny toy" that comes along instead of placing attention on such services as police, water and streets.
While admitting she doesn't have a conventional resume, she said that too many of those appointed to city boards or commissions are based on orchestrated appointments and that sometimes the council becomes too insulated from ordinary folks in the community.
"I have the ability to start with a fresh slate, listen to people and solve problems," she said.
And she wants to make sure women have a voice in city leadership (the current council and mayor are all male) as well. "Women need to be represented at the table," she said.
At the same time, Monahan said she would like to create an environment where people can come and not feel intimidated when speaking to the city council.
Traffic, congestion and Southwest Corridor/MAX line: Monahan is skeptical about the Southwest Corridor light rail, saying she thinks the cost is too much for the community and that spending money on light rail isn't hugely helpful to residents. Rather, she would advocate for getting additional lanes for traffic, the development of toll roads and providing HOV lanes on I-205.
Housing issues: Monahan said she's not supportive of the Metro housing bond request, noting that it's a huge tax obligation on the cities and that Metro doesn't have experience in managing housing. In addition, she has concerns over the fact the majority of money would benefit Multnomah County.
At the same time, she suggested maybe the city should waive fees for construction of "missing middle" housing construction to make city housing more affordable.
Regarding homeless issues, Monahan said people should show kindness to those individuals, noting that many have mental health or substance abuse issues but at the same time she believes that those who are homeless need to be good neighbors by not throwing trash around or using drugs.
Budget priorities: Monahan said the city's core services — police, streets and sewer services should be top budget priorities. Although she knows there's a lot of time involved doing the work of the city, Monahan said she objects to the mayor's position having a salary/stipend attached to it. (The stipend, which was raised to $45,602 in 2016, is designed to cover expenses for representing the city and lobbying at the state, regional and federal level.)
"If I was mayor, I wouldn't accept a salary," she said. "I just think it's totally inappropriate."
Monahan called the annexation of River Terrace one of the most impactful decisions of the last 10 years, noting that she doesn't believe the amount of system development charges (also known as SDCs) paid by developers in River Terrace was enough to cover infrastructure and that they should shoulder more of the burden.
Jason Snider says the city is at a challenging time in its history and he is running because he has concerns about its future leadership and direction.
"I think I have the leadership skills to be very effective," he said of his mayoral bid. He has served on the Tigard City Council since 2013 and as council president since 2015.
Among the most pressing issues he sees the city facing at the moment are addressing traffic congestion, the future Southwest Corridor light rail, the city's financial situation and affordable housing. Snider said if elected he would be an extremely accessible mayor, saying he has handed out his cell phone number to residents he has met while campaigning.
Snider, a health care administrator, said he is supportive of conducting performance audits, something that he believes will be helpful, but emphasized such audits will not solve the city's $2.5 million budget deficit. For the future, Snider said he envisions the Tigard Triangle as a thriving, transit-oriented location where residents can work, find a job and get groceries.
Traffic, congestion and Southwest Corridor/MAX line: Snider said traffic woes should be approached from a practical perspective, noting that among the problem spots are Highway 99W and Hall Boulevard. Still, he said there's a misconception by some residents regarding what roads the city has jurisdiction over (many are state-controlled roadways). Still, Snider said the city has made headway with safety and traffic flow improvements completed on Hall Boulevard and Highway 99W as well as Highway 99W and Main Street.
Regarding the Southwest Corridor light rail project, Snider said light rail is unlikely to make congestion better but will likely keep it from becoming worse. That said, he has a list of 10 items important to Tigard regarding the light rail route through the city, pointing out if Metro doesn't address those issues, he won't blindly support a project that goes through Tigard and only has one stop.
Housing issues: Snider said affordable housing is an issue that must be addressed and he supports the city making changes to its current code to address those shortages in order to make the construction of accessory dwelling units, commonly referred to as ADUs (small units attached or detached from single family homes) and small cottages, more feasible and easier to build. While supportive of the Metro affordable housing bond request, he doesn't believe it's the right tool to address the issue.
Regarding homelessness in Tigard, Snider said Multnomah County uses both mental health and social workers resources, along with police, to address issues that arise, and would like to try something similar in Tigard. He supports the hiring a social worker (if it is budget neutral) to work with police, pointing out that rarely are the homeless committing crimes when residents call police.
Budget priorities: Snider said the city has to live within its means given that the local option levy did not pass, noting that 97 percent of residents are pleased with how the city is doing. Still, he said he's found broad support for a public-safety-only levy. He said it was important to send something to voters before the next budget cycle.
Marc Woodard said he wants to take a lead from his father who was heavily involved in Downtown Tigard business, pointing out he believes he has the leadership skills needed to be mayor.
"I care about my community," said Woodard, who has been on the council since 2011. "I want to help."
A fit healthy lifestyle consultant for MirrorAthlete Corp., Woodard said he was the lone member of the Tigard City Council to vote against sending a local option levy to voters last spring.
Among his priorities are addressing traffic congestion, conducting a city audit and providing more community outreach.
Woodard said he is in favor of approaching voters with a charter amendment to allow for city performance audits with publicly informed oversight, saying it would allow for more businesslike spending practices. It would, he said, be a way to look for inefficiencies and eliminate waste.
While fighting to get city performance audits since 2011, he does admit the council in June unanimously recommended city performance audits.
Traffic, congestion and Southwest Corridor/MAX line: "I think we dropped the ball on our roads," he said, pointing out that the city needs to find funding for those roads that result in daily bottlenecks.
While he pushed for rapid bus transit in the early days when Metro was talking about the Southwest Corridor light rail route in 2011, such a system was not championed by officials at this point.
He said although it appears the city is moving forward with the preferred Southwest Corridor route, it "doesn't fall in line with the original plans and it's not affordable."
Housing issues: Woodard said affordable housing needs to be part of the city's land use planning and housing equation. He said addressing those without homes may be less of a burden on taxpayers in the future if the projected 1.5 percent annual city growth over the next five years continues.
Woodard said he is concerned about the city's homeless and pushed forward the idea of addressing homelessness as a city priority in 2016.
He said the current Just Compassion resource center/day shelter is an example of some of the work that's been done. Still, he said the city's homeless task force and city leaders need to continue reaching out to find viable shelter and affordable housing.
Budget priorities: Woodard said any shortage of police officers needs to be addressed. He said his priorities are providing police services and reducing traffic congestion.
For the Tigard Triangle, Woodard said his vision is that it contain "aging in place" housing that includes affordable housing complete with public transportation that is within reasonable walking distance of homes. He also wants to see development there of Green Technology and noted that the future of the Tigard Triangle will depend on the city's "leadership to work through public private partnerships and transparent public processes that gain support and trust of taxpayers and developers."