Two vie for contested Tualatin council seat
While three seats are up for a seat on the Tualatin City Council, only the race for Position 4 is contested, with both Cyndy Hillier, executive director of Tualatin Together, and Alex Thurber, chief revenue officer for Pulse Secure, vying for the position.
The Times asked the two contenders to weigh in on a variety of Tualatin topics. Their full responses appear below:
What is your vision for the Basalt Creek area immediately south of Tualatin?
Cyndy Hillier: The city has already started development in Basalt Creek. The council just recently approved a housing development that will include small lot homes, attached homes and a variety of price points. The city is also working with a developer for an affordable housing apartment complex at the TriMet 96 stop near Horizon church. Also, in the early stages, and I would support the project, the city is looking for space for a large park development, similar to Ibach. I am aware of, and would support, a development near the historic train station along the WES route, which would be a great opportunity to develop mix housing and retail and provide public transportation. There are several areas already zoned for housing, which I would support developing along the framework of the city's 2040 housing plan, whose committee I was a member of, and support.
Alex Thurber: I believe the Basalt Creek area can be a thriving new section of Tualatin, with a vibrant mix of housing, retail and offices. Tualatin has a traffic problem, somewhat caused by the housing problem and the fact that most people commute into Tualatin for work. If we have the right mix of affordable housing that feeds to jobs in the immediate area, we can deal with multiple issues at one time. However, the growth of that area MUST be in conjunction with rational traffic plans to ensure that we are not simply adding hundreds of car-trips a day to already burdened roads.
What is your vision for the Stafford area immediately east of Tualatin?
Hillier: The Stafford area has a long history of starts and stops. Currently there is a five party Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to allow the beginning of another concept plan, and there is a three party IGA with Lake Oswego and West Linn to allow a city to move forward. It is a sensitive area, with many stakeholders who have various opinions on the area.
From a Tualatin point of view, we need to respect the wishes of our Borland Road residents. More important than development of the Stafford area, we need to first develop public transportation from the Meridian Center to Oregon City and the Veterans Hospital. House Bill 2017 provided funding so we need to continue to work with Clackamas county and move forward with plans for bus on shoulder along I-205 and expanding the Tualatin Shuttle and Wilsonville SMART to provide a route and continuous service along Borland Road to Oregon City.
Thurber: My early vision for the Stafford area immediately east of Tualatin is to be able to add a mix of housing to blend the more urban Tualatin core with the more rural broader Stafford area. I can see homes with lots of between one-quarter to 1 acre to increase buildable land for Tualatin, while not completely changing the character of the 5+ acre parcels in the rest of Stafford. However, as with my answer on Basalt Creek, we must simultaneously increase traffic capacity while increasing housing density. I'd suggest a series of open discussions to ensure that all views are heard and considered in a way before too much planning is locked in.
How would you approach longstanding transportation issues in Tualatin?
Hillier: With the passage of Tualatin Moving Forward, a $20 million bond approved by Tualatin voters in May 2018, the city is working on multiple projects to provide congestion relief, neighborhood safety including new pedestrian crossings with signals, and safe access to schools. This project is ongoing with several projects already completed. There will be two new traffic signals installed, lane improvement and safety improvements in the "Garden Corner Curves" that will include bike and walking lanes and other project to help with our transportation issues. The new 124th/Basalt Creek Parkway road has provided some relief to Tualatin Sherwin Road, with Washington county continuing to work on extending the road across I-5. If voters approve the Metro T-2020 plan (Measure 26-218) which includes extending light rail to a new Bridgeport Transportation Center and multiple road and bike improvement throughout the metro area these are additional improvement that will help Tualatin.
Thurber: We need a short-term fix for the transportation issues in Tualatin while we work towards longer term changes. Over 90% of people employed in Tualatin do not live here so we must quickly increase public transportation options for those routes, including the very important east-west routings which often get ignored. This becomes even more critical if tolling is brought to I-205 and I-5. Longer term, as we bring light rail down the I-5 corridor, we must ensure that Tualatin does not become the parking lot for everyone wanting to take MAX downtown; a series of parking and coordinated bus routes will be critical.
What is your take on calls for racial justice and policing reforms across the United States, including in Tualatin?
Hillier: Mayor Frank Bubenik recently signed the Obama Foundation Mayor's Pledge which calls for a review of the use of force policies. The city is now engaging the community in a conversation with the Police department that includes current policy. In addition, the Tigard Tualatin School board has started a community conversation on School Resource Officers (SROs) in the school district. Tualatin currently has three SRO's. These conversations are important and allows the community to voice their concerns and give everyone an understanding of the city's Policing.
Thurber: I think the increased dialog around police reform that is sweeping the country is a very positive action, as long as the dialog remains verbal and does not move into violence. I'm proud of the work done by Chief Steele and the Tualatin Police to support better community relations and as a board member of the Tualatin Community Police Foundation, I do what I can in this area. I'm also pleased that Mayor Bubenik has taken the Obama Foundation Pledge to support improved community policing and the Council is also committed to whatever changes might be required.
How would you go about addressing inadequacies in Tualatin's city facilities, such as the lack of a centralized City Hall?
Hillier: The council approved funding for expansion of the Tualatin maintenance center which will bring most of the city staff under one roof. While this still does not provide for a "City Hall" the public has never supported any city hall plans as currently envisioned. However, a good start would be a community center for our youth. It is no secret to those who know me that youth and families are my passion.
Not just for them to have an excellent academic education but also one that provides connection, social skill building and more. Partnering with local nonprofits to build our youth from the inside out is a key foundation of mine. Further, the look and feel of our community where we are raising our youth is of equal concern especially as we look to change the environment for all Tualatin citizens by considering changing the now protective and appropriate marijuana zoning to a far less set back that would allow our community to have a recreational marijuana store way too close to where our youth and families live, recreate and become educated.
Thurber: I would love to see a more vibrant and dynamic downtown Tualatin, and there should be an opportunity for the city to lead the way. There is a natural geographic center around the current Tualatin Commons, and yet much of the land in the immediate area is not conducive to dining and shopping and walking. I had an informal discussion with a restaurant owner in downtown Portland a couple of weeks ago and he would be very interested in relocating to Tualatin. I believe that we could sponsor a partnership between landowners, interested developers, retail, restauranteurs and the City to produce a creative "master" plan which could give us a downtown to be proud of where we would enjoy spending time.
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