Tigard council candidates weigh in on issues
In Tigard, there are seven candidates vying for two at-large positions on the City Council with Councilor Heidi Lueb being the only incumbent. The Times recently asked those candidates to fill out a questionnaire regarding issues important to the city of Tigard and its residents. Their responses, except for candidate Ethan E. Erickson, who did not return responses by deadline, appear below in full:
What is your vision for the Tigard Triangle Area?
Ben Edtl: I think it's a wonderful idea to develop Tigard's urban center, especially with the recent decimation of Downtown Portland. However, when the government implements expensive long-term projects it has to be managed effectively to maximize return on investment for the taxpayers who fund it. My vision of a return on investment includes increased revenue to the city, but most importantly, creates new businesses, new jobs and new homeowners in Tigard. If elected, I will lead development of business accelerators designed to support entrepreneurs with disproportionate community equity in Tigard. I want to see these programs owned and operated by the private sector leaders of the communities they represent. All business owners (of any color) need wholistic infrastructure to succeed and scale; they need a community that supports growth through sharing of experience, resources and mentorship. This is what builds community wealth over time. What's earned can be passed on for generations to come. Together these concepts will leverage diversity to build a sustainable and robust economic center in Downtown Tigard.
David "Jerry" Hahn: Tigard is growing and expanding quickly, of that there is no doubt. Hence, the Tigard Triangle presents an excellent opportunity to grow in a well-planned and sustainable fashion. I am aware that the city has sought input from citizens and applaud this effort. It is time to move to the next phase and begin to create the needed infrastructure that will allow the development to continue. This area would provide housing and business opportunities to the city, bringing in tax revenue.
Heidi Lueb: My vision for the Tigard Triangle is to create an equitable area with options for housing, transportation, thriving businesses, and adequate parks land. Ideally there should be multiple housing options, including everything from affordable housing options, market rate apartments, missing middle housing including options like duplexes or cottage clusters, and single family homes.Infrastructure upgrades should be completed using the Complete Streets Policy. This means streets are upgraded with all road users in mind: vehicles, public transportation, cyclists, and pedestrians. The Tigard Triangle includes some thriving businesses already, but I want to provide additional opportunities for small businesses to be successful. This could tie into existing developments or in underdeveloped areas of the Triangle. It's important to create parks and trails in the planning process. We've learned it's more important than ever to have adequate outdoor space and can achieve that with parks and trails planned early.
Jeanette Shaw: Tigard has the opportunity to define an approximately 550-acre underdeveloped neighborhood that few other metropolitan cities have. My vision for a prosperous Tigard Triangle neighborhood would include: (1) residents already living in the Tigard Triangle continue to have a voice for what is needed in their neighborhood; (2) affordable housing alternatives and options for Tigard's growing population; (3) necessary infrastructure such as sewer, water and telecommunication lines; (4) grocery stores, pharmacies and a community center; (5) adequate transportation alternatives to mitigate traffic congestion including electric charging infrastructure for electric cars, transit and school buses; (6) accessible and safe connections to Tigard's trail system along with sidewalks and pocket parks throughout the Tigard Triangle; and (7) economic development that focuses on
companies with good paying wage jobs so Tigard residents can live and work in Tigard.
Mark Woodard: The Triangle is a city center with form-based multi-story buildings that include walkable street with store front space on well-connected and safe walkways with local and regional public transportation options. Above the retail space, multi-family dwelling units offer affordable housing choice for all those looking to enjoy the amenities a downtown has to offer. My vision includes enhanced busing options for our remote residents to and from the Triangle and to access regional public transit resources. I'm also an advocate for affordable universal housing choice for active adults to age in place. I'd also like to see the planned above grade transit-pedestrian Bridgeway from the Triangle, over Highway 217, connect to a transit-oriented center in Down town Tigard near main street. This connection has been part of the Southwest Corridor planning process since 2011 – where the hearts of the two city centers connect.
Kevin C. Wright: The key word in the opportunity equation for the Tigard Triangle is and has always been traffic. In business traffic means the opportunity for conversion (to generate sales) and this area can be the top of our conversion funnel. The city can support existing businesses in Tigard by placing a revised focus on traffic conversion. JP Morgan Studies confirm that consumers often shop at multiple stores on the same trip to minimize the time and travel costs of shopping. That highlights the opportunity for our Tigard businesses to seek more ways to partner with those retailers, create new activations, convert new customers, and market to new audiences. Adding healthy shops, restaurants, and parks to the big-box retailers already in the area is a path to the long-term financial success of our entire city.
What is your stance on development plans in the River Terrace area, including the planned Art Rutkin Elementary School?
Edtl: I currently support expansion of urban boundaries and the development of new, single-family zoned communities in Tigard. The bond financing Art Rutkin Elementary School has passed the voters in 2016. So, I don't see a real issue here as long as it gets done within the budget constraints promised to the taxpayers.
Hahn: Similar to the previous question, I favor and support the development of this 500-acre area. Currently in the permitting and construction phase, this long-term project will provide new opportunities for housing within Tigard, once again generating property tax revenue and community expansion within a well-planned framework. As far as a new elementary school, that would be based on the needs of the community. If enough families with school age students move in it is only a logical extension of the development.
Lueb: We can't deny that change and development are coming and it's our responsibility to make sure we create a cohesive community when planned development does happen.
River Terrace has already been planned and approved. We have an opportunity for River Terrace West and South during the concept planning phase going on now. I'm supportive of this growth, if during planning we have the appropriate mix of housing to ensure equitable neighborhoods, transportation systems to support the development, address infrastructure needs, and have a mix of types of land to provide amenities in close proximity. We are working hard to ensure that there is robust community engagement including forming a community committee and providing ample opportunity for resident input. I am supportive of the elementary school that is planned in River Terrace. Our students shouldn't have to travel all over the city in order to receive their education.
Shaw: The approved River Terrace 500-acre neighborhood community is a 20-year project that was thoughtfully planned and included significant input from property owners, neighbors, developers, service providers and city/Metro partner agencies. The property owners voluntarily annexed to Tigard to ensure growth in a fiscally responsible manner, to manage infrastructure needs such as stormwater runoff, and to provide new parks and recreation facilities for all Tigard residents. The River Terrace
neighborhood will provide the necessary housing needed as Tigard grows. Tigard residents passed a bond in November 2016 to upgrade existing schools and to fund the construction of the Art Rutkin elementary school. I support the new elementary school so children in the River Terrace and nearby neighborhoods have a school close to their homes to go to.
Woodard: While I was serving on City Council from 2012-14, I was the River Terrace Task Force Council Liaison and supported the public planning process and agree its development was necessary to meet future housing demand. I believe we can offer other incentives to create more affordable housing choice for an underserved population in an area projected to grow out to 2,500 homes with an estimated 6,500 new residents. Especially for those earning at or under 80% averaged annual earned income. Back in 2011, I knew the area school district would eventually need a new elementary school, especially with so many young families moving into the area. Now with future urban growth boundary plans to expand River Terrace West and South, the proposed Art Rutkin Elementary school is timely. It will serve approximately 650 students within a 51,300-square-foot, two-story building and will meet the areas educational growth projection need
Wright: The River Terrace area is our perfect bookend project opposite the Tigard Triangle to grow in to a beautiful and fiscally responsible neighborhood. As the greater Portland area population continues to expand there is an increased demand for multi-family homes and this is an opportunity to focus on and promote programs that will support the development of and conversion to those homes. These will be the families that help us grow at a healthy pace and develop an even more inclusive community. Beyond housing, parks, and recreation Tigard is also working to better manage stormwater runoff from Bull Mountain and our development of this area will better support our providing this crucial service to those residents. These types of new and more effective management practices will ensure that we have a healthy platform for the addition of Art Rutkin elementary — our newest Tigard landmark.
What is your stance on the proposed Southwest Corridor MAX light rail line and the Metro transportation bond this fall that would fund it?
Edtl: Before we successfully bring light rail to Tigard, Portland must resolve its public safety crisis. As Portland becomes exponentially more dangerous, public transportation ridership continues to decline. What's the point of spending billions of dollars to bring light rail to Tigard, if people are too scared to ride it? Secondly, I strongly oppose the measure's taxation. Adding a payroll tax during a government imposed economic collapse is total nonsense. It will simply create higher prices for consumers and put even more Oregonians out of work. That said, I would love to see light rail in Tigard, when the time is right. I hope the voters send Metro back to the drawing board on this one.
Hahn: I have lived in many areas that have extensive public transportation available and have seen how well it can work and serve the citizens. I am in favor of the light rail project. Simply put, the traffic congestion and challenges are not going to go away given the current configuration of the roads, streets, and highways. Other options need to be introduced. The long-term vision to do this needs to start now.
Lueb: Light rail has a complicated history with the City of Tigard and our voters. Get Moving 2020, Measure 26-218, has many flaws and is not a perfect measure, however I think the positives for our community outweigh the negatives for the long term benefit.Tigard has the opportunity to expand the options for transportation. Couple this with the changes in the Tigard Triangle, and there are opportunities for a different style of suburban living, including not being dependent on a personal vehicle and an eye on climate change. The measure also funds a critical study of Highway 99W, changes to Highway 217, and many upgrades to areas around the light rail stations.I'm concerned about the funding mechanism and disappointed that Metro didn't allow for a more diverse way of funding the projects. However, the opportunity for matching Federal funding should not go overlooked.
Shaw: The Metro transportation project, also known as Proposed Measure 26-218 "Get Moving 2020" includes many needed infrastructure projects for the Portland metro region. Projects include: bridge replacement and repair, a rapid regional electric bus network; sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, traffic signal and intersection upgrades as well as the Southwest Corridor light-rail line between downtown Portland and Washington County. The measure is supported by a proposed tax on employers with 25 or more employees while exempting local and state governments. If we truly want an equitable system, then local and state governments should be included within the proposed tax as their employees will also benefit from the projects. Everyone benefits when collaboration and coordination happens regionally on transit related projects.
Woodard: If voters pass Measure 26-218, transportation Projects which include the Southwest Corridor Max Light rail, my expectation of TriMet executives — as I made clear while serving on council in 2018 — I'd hold TriMet accountable for the agreed upon 2018 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) transportation project funding requirements for the City of Tigard. That is, the bond funding Tigard's road project needs to accommodate the estimated increased traffic circulation caused by the construction of the rail corridor through Tigard. The city needs the road project improvement funds to reduce traffic congestion and/or not make it worse after MAX Light Rail construction. And in no case do I support leaving residents and business in a situation where they subsidize Tigard road improvement projects for lack of T2020 funds as agreed upon within the MOU between TriMet and the City.
Wright: The new MAX system as planned will connect our two Urban Renewal Areas directly and drive economic benefits that will extend to the greater community by laddering up to the goal of increased traffic conversion. It is imperative that we develop a strategy to capture as much of the traffic coming toward Tigard and our surrounding areas all pointing toward our downtown commerce center. This strategy should include concepts that route toward local brick and mortar spending and better market our service businesses. I recognize that the proposed Metro Transportation Bond creates unease at this time but this is a long-term plan and Covid-19 is not here to stay. While we are in the midst of an unprecedented economic downturn we have shown the ability to thrive and I have confidence that Tigard will be able to confidently make this investment in our long term health as a community.
What is your take on calls for racial justice and policing reforms across the United States, including Tigard?
Edtl: The calls for racial justice are coming from supporters of the nationwide BLM movement. While the Mayor and City Council support the BLM, I oppose it. Not because of its calls for racial justice, but because of its violent behavior and far left agenda. The BLM mob gets their message across by looting, assaulting, vandalizing and murdering citizens and police officers. To appease the mob, the City of Portland defunded the Gun Violence Task Force. As a result, violent crime in Portland immediately rose exponentially to 300% year-over-year. Tragically, nearly two-thirds of the victims are Black. Secondly, the BLM aims to destroy our Democratic Republic and put in place an oppressive system of Marxist government.
Hahn: The calls for racial justice and police reform are a deeply necessary conversation to be having at this time; nation-wide and locally. The proper first step has already been introduced; the call for greater awareness and discussion. I have received a great deal of professional training in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion and am confident I could be a strong advocate for the continued efforts regarding racial justice. In terms of police reform, it has been my experience that the Tigard Police Force is under the excellent leadership of the current chief. That being said, increased training and support would always be helpful. I support the force being fully funded.
Lueb: I understand and acknowledge that our Black community is treated differently and have been a strong supporter of our efforts to work through discussing policy changes with our Police Department and evaluating City services. Racism exists in Tigard. It was clear to me when this discussion evolved and we received a significant amount of feedback from numerous community members that don't believe racism exists anymore. I certainly don't expect to have experienced it myself as a white female, however I've heard stories from our community members and I believe them. I appreciate the thoughtful conversations we are having on a City level how we can address these issues with policies and leadership. I support our Police Department and stand behind our levy passed in May, however I also acknowledge that we should look at our policies to ensure we are serving all of our residents in the best way possible.
Shaw: In response to the reforms called upon across the United States, I supported the development of the Tigard City Council's Public Safety Advisory Board. I supported the decision to create the Board to provide input and advice to the Tigard City Council but not the ability to enact its own policies, as the Mayor of Tigard proposed. The City Council is elected to enact such policies and should be held accountable for doing so and not an Advisory Board. The Public Safety Community Advisory Board will serve an important role within the Tigard Community to ensure all voices are heard equally.
Woodard: Everyone deserves the same care and respect from our police officers, no matter skin color etc. I support removal of any bias found within any police policies, programs, procedures and rules and any other government department or institution that is, or could be, perceived bias against anyone. However, I'm not in favor of divesting or defunding Tigard police resources. Especially since I've known since 2012 the Tigard Police Department has been understaffed with patrol officers. With the overwhelming passage of Tigard's public safety levy in May 2020, cutting those funds and head count would be the wrong thing to do for Tigard. I believe racial justice and police reform change can best be accomplished through a non-bias public safety committee within our nation's cities including Tigard which provides police reform recommendations to council to implement change.
Wright: The calls for racial justice and police reform across the United States have come so frequently and in so many forms and fashions that I've become convinced that this is a time unlike any other for us to ask important questions and find ways to come together. That means new conversations, new leaders, and some very old issues. I've put the time in to get to know who we are and what our city is doing to make this a safe and thriving community and my confidence is shining. Tigard is already working so hard that our commitment to winning together has created an opportunity for us to set the example nation-wide. If we continue to listen to our citizens and lead with compassion, we can be the most diverse, equitable, inclusive, and forward-thinking small city in the country.
How would you go about addressing inadequacies in Tigard's city facilities, including City Hall and the police station?
Edtl: I'm for the development of the "All in One" concept facility that would house Tigard Police, City Hall and the fire department. The library bond, due to expire soon, could be used to fund the new facility. But it has to pass the voters. City Hall is less important to me. However, I've personally toured the Tigard Police Station and it's shockingly inappropriate. It's clear the Mayor and Council see public safety as a low priority. The Tigard Police need a new facility with appropriate security and equipment to run an effective law enforcement training program, attract top candidates and execute the highest public safety standards.
Hahn: I was provided the opportunity to get a tour of the city hall and police station buildings. I find them to be undersized and under-equipped for their modern needs. An immediate course of action should be considered to rectify this.
Lueb: Our city facilities are in poor condition, especially our Tigard Police Department. The police department roof leaks and can no longer be repaired. We are also out of locker space for our female officers and unable to provide them adequate space to work, among other issues.The city has started looking into options for new facilities to address the needs of all the departments including adequate space for our police department. The best option currently is an all-in-one facility where the current Public Works department is located off Burnham Street. This new facility could also include a parking structure which would serve the downtown area as well as the new Universal Plaza. Funding for this project could potentially be achieved through a continuation of the Library Bond when it expires. This would be a great opportunity and would mean no new taxes for Tigard residents.
Shaw: Having toured many Tigard city facilities, including most recently the Tigard Police Station, I support the proposal to develop a new multi-service building. A new building is necessary for seismic safety concerns for Tigard's employees and residents who visit these buildings and to keep businesses and attract new businesses who want to invest in Tigard. If the city does not invest in its own infrastructure then why would a business want to invest in Tigard? Economic development that includes good paying jobs is vital to the future of Tigard. Continuing city services in the downtown main street corridor redevelopment area would further leverage the current redevelopment of the downtown main street core. The proposal also includes building apartments, which would further ensure housing availability and a vibrant downtown.
Woodard: After reviewing the city facilities state of repairs and review in 2014-15 while serving on council, I found it was the police station in need of major renovation and repair to be functionally and structurally sound. To that point — I'd recommend as I did then, the city look to renovate the police department to adequately accommodate our police operations. Select city hall administrators could vacate office space and become telecommuters. This shift in workforce space would provide the opportunity to partially renovate or rebuild the building. Or the city could lease space until renovation completion. In the era of COVID-19, we've learned, technology allows us to work outside of office environments very efficiently. Asking taxpayers for $10's of millions more for a new 4-story city hall, for mostly office space, with additional operational costs, may not be the best deal for our police department or taxpayers at this time
Wright: I know our facilities, from our police department to our city offices and the fact is that we need to improve here if we hope to adequately support our vision for a healthy and thriving Tigard of the future. To accomplish this, we need long term focus and an action plan that will not place any undue burden on any one group or party. We can employ a modern business approach to help us unlock the full potential of city revenues and create a proactive approach toward maximizing efficiencies. A 2019 McKinsey study says there are four key municipal revenue sources: Service Fees, Fines, Charges, and Assets/Investments and they've recently published their research on new revenue levers in those four arenas. It is imperative that we leverage this and other new research like it to explore how we can best remedy our budget shortfalls.
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