Air Force vet runs for city council
During a recent stint as an Aerial Port Flight Commander for the United States Air Force, Wilsonville resident John Budiao oversaw the transport of $2.1 billion worth of cargo from Kuwait to the United Arab Emirates.
As a cost-cutting measure, he helped stack the cargo on top of each other so that the collective load could fit into seven planes instead of 12 — which reduced fuel and requisite manpower.
After 26 years, Budiao recently retired from the Air Force. And his days as the Scoutmaster for Wilsonville Troop 194 and as a coach of his son's youth football teams have ended or are winding down. With more time on his hands, Budiao has decided to run for Wilsonville City Council. And he believes his experience managing budgets and soldiers and working long hours are compatible with effective policy-making.
"I was in charge of 150 airmen, the budget. It was basically a 24-hour shift for me for the months I was deployed," Budiao said. "When you're working those hours, months on end, missing holidays, football season, it can be pretty strenuous. I know I have the stamina and the attitude to research everything and make the best, most sound judgements"
Budiao will vie for two open Wilsonville City Council seats against incumbent Charlotte Lehan, and challengers Ben West and David Davis, all of whom the Spokesman will profile in the coming weeks before the Nov. 6 election.
Budiao resides in Arbor Crossing, has lived in Wilsonville since 2000 and has been a finalist for the Rotary Club of Wilsonville First Citizen award twice. He appreciates the city and believes it has been relatively well run over the last couple decades. But Budiao would like to temper the accelerating change he's seeing.
"I've been around the world 2-3 times and seen lots of things," he said. "I love the city of Wilsonville. I like to see the streets, the sidewalks, the yards. I want to keep this city the way it is."
Specifically, Budiao is worried about Wilsonville's housing stock. While about half of the city's livable units are apartments, Budiao believes future development should consist mostly of single family homes to mitigate increased traffic and density. Relatedly, he is against Metro's affordable housing bond measure up for ballot this November that would fund affordable housing units throughout the region using property tax revenue.
"If we want to grow smartly and have the feel of Lake Oswego rather than downtown Portland, let's have single family homes," he said.
He also believes Wilsonville should devote money toward improving road conditions rather than mass transit and is opposed to the recent push to toll freeways in the Metro area.
"It will be one of the only tolls on I-5 from Baja, California all the way to Alaska. Why are you tolling it? The roads have already been paid for," he said. "It doesn't pencil out that it's profitable for every single rider to ride on mass transit."
Budiao said the implementation of the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant was one of the most beneficial projects in Wilsonville history and he would like to see the City use the plant to persuade major companies such as major beer producers to set up shop in Wilsonville. He would also like to foster a more collaborative relationship with nearby cities to lobby Metro, Clackamas County and larger governmental entities to greenlight initiatives Wilsonville supports.
"If we're able to do our homework and say how it benefits multiple (cities), I have a feeling Metro would say yes rather than no," he said.
Budiao also believes the City should add sidewalks along Boeckman Road so that students don't have to deviate into neighborhoods to reach Meridian Creek Middle School.
"Why doesn't the city step in and put in sidewalks when we know we have an elementary school coming in and already a middle school?" he said.
Other ideas Budiao supports include: switching city street and neighborhood lighting to light-emitting diode (LED) to reduce energy and costs, placing sports fields on a city-owned parcel near Meridian Creek Middle School, and investing in a facility for the Wilsonville High robotics team, and more trade opportunities for students who might not be interested in college.
"If they (youth) have nowhere to go for sports or are limited, what else are they going to do?" Budiao said. "Keep them busy. Keep their minds set."
So far, Budiao has chatted with Wilsonville citizens at meet-and-greets, homeowners association meetings and many events in the community. If elected, he said he would rely on experts such as city staff to reach logical decisions on topics that come before council.
According to Budiao, residents who have seen him lead Scouting troops, coach local sports teams and convince the Rivergreen Homeowners Association to allow composite roof surfacing have been asking him to run for a city council position for years.
Rather than being amongst the clouds, he now hopes to serve the public behind the dais.
"I feel that running for City Council, hearing and witnessing all the issues in the city, I would be in a position to make a difference," he said.