Two vie for Tualatin seat in council's only contested race
Like the mayor's race, traffic, how to deal with future growth, affordable housing and other issues are topics that future council members will have to wrestle with. While there are currently three open seats in this election, only one of the races is contested. Maria Reyes in Position 1 and Bridget Brooks in Position 3 face no opponents.
However, in Position 5, Nancy Grimes is seeking a third term, challenged by Chris Burchill, who has been active in several city groups and organizations. Here's how the two candidates weigh in on city issues:
Now that he's retired,
Burchill, who holds a bachelor's of arts degree in political science, said he wants something important to do in his spare time. He chose running for a seat on the Tualatin City Council as a way he can help make the city a better place to live.
"I'm doing it because I think I can make a difference," he said.
A master recycler, Burchill says one of his priorities is the environment. A retired terminal manager with a freight carrier company, he has lived in Tualatin for the last 30 years.
"In Tualatin, we don't do enough recycling," he said. Part of the problem is that residents aren't aware of ways to reduce and reuse items, he said. One way of thinking out of the box is to open a "tool library" where tools could be recycled or checked out, he suggested.
A volunteer with the city's CERT team (Community Emergency Response Team), Burchill said he would also like to see the city be more inclusive and suggested one way to do that is to offer some type of transportation system allowing residents to get to the Juanita Pohl Senior Center.
As far as addressing the issue of homelessness in the city, Burchill said at the very least the Juanita Pohl Center should be open to the homeless during the day.
"There's plenty of homeless folks in Tualatin, you just don't see them," he said. "There's tons of people who will help."
Regarding the recently passed traffic and road safety improvement bond measure, Burchill is skeptical about what it will solve.
"The bond measure does nothing about the traffic," he pointed out.
He also doesn't believe mass transit will change the amount of traffic residents see, noting that 75 percent of people he sees driving have only one person in the vehicle.
In addition, he pointed out that as part of a survey of Ibach and Byrom Citizen Involvement Organizations, 75 percent of the membership voted not to support light rail. What Burchill is supportive of, however, is vertical housing such as apartment complexes that contain retail space below.
Council incumbent Nancy Grimes said her big priorities include the planning and development of Basalt Creek, putting the city's transportation bond money to work and finishing the parks master plan.
Appointed in 2011, the marketing consultant for a Portland television station, said she didn't join the council to push forward any strong personal agenda, rather she came from a background where she did a lot of volunteer work. "First and foremost, I'm a community volunteer, not a professional politician," she said.
Grimes said the city is at a pivotal moment where the goal is to enhance Tualatin's reputation as a city where it's great to do business, something the council has worked hard for over the years.
Grimes said she thinks it's a constant balancing act to keep the city livable, noting that the people who live in Tualatin love living in Tualatin.
"I just love where I live and I love the community and I feel like a caretaker of that," she said.
On housing issues, Grimes said the city needs to acknowledge its role in trying to provide affordable housing, pointing out that the Basalt Creek plan does have room for higher density housing. Regarding Metro's housing bond, Grimes said she believes there is a huge crisis in finding affordable housing but is not sure that the Metro bond is the right answer.
"Careful, thoughtful planning will allow us to add multiple types of housing, both single family and higher density, so we can hopefully add more affordable housing options for residents," she said.
Regarding homelessness in Tualatin, Grimes said she doesn't believe it's as big a problem as it is in other neighboring communities, pointing out that the community tries to help the homeless through the Tualatin Food Pantry and through other community groups.
"I think we try to, as much as possible, take care of people in the community," she said.
Meanwhile, Grimes said she's pleased the city has hired a traffic consultant to help implement traffic bond measure projects. She called passage of the $20 million bond an achievement, saying she is pleased that the city will be able to "fast track" some of the traffic safety projects.
"We have made a great start working on projects outlined in the transportation bond passed by voters in May, but there is a lot more to do," she said.
Grimes said she hopes that the bond will make some difference to the congestion as motorists make their way to I-5 with the city's plan to remove a median and add a lane.
Also, she's pleased with the completion of the 124th Avenue extension, saying it will take truck and commercial traffic off of Tualatin-Sherwood Road. "I think that's going to be a huge help," she said.
Meanwhile, Grimes is also pleased the city's parks and recreation master plan is moving forward, pointing out it's been more than 20 years since it's been up dated. She said it's a good time to plan for maintenance and expansion of parks and trails.