Incumbent Rich Vial and challenger Courtney Neron share their views on issues central to Wilsonville

SPOKESMAN: Traffic is on the minds of many Wilsonville residents. What can you do in the Legislature to help with that?

NERON: I will fight to bring in state money to respond to needed transportation improvements. Rich Vial was on the transportation committee and yet House District 26 got very little money for improvements. Our top priority needs to be moving the Boone Bridge project higher on ODOT's list - we cannot wait the suggested 10-20 years for improvements when we know we have predictable traffic jams impacting thousands of people daily.  The intersection of Highway 99 and Tualatin-Sherwood Road needs attention. With daily, predictable congestion on this scale, I will work with all levels of government to solve these problems.

VIAL: Traffic affects every family in House District 26. With the economic growth we've experienced since the recession, congestion on our roads and bridges has increased dramatically. Affecting Wilsonville residents in particular is the number of roadways that enter I-5 north of the City. I have been a strong advocate for infrastructure investments that would ease congestion in Wilsonville by allowing traffic to exit and enter I-5 south of the Willamette River, giving motorists an alternative to I-5 through the Wilsonville area and thereby reducing the number of cars that use neighborhood streets and farm-to-market roads to bypass freeway traffic.

SPOKESMAN: There is a lot of debate about the use of the river through Wilsonville, specifically the impact of motorized water sports. What limits, if any, should there be on the recreational use of the river?

VIAL: Since March of 2018, I have served as chair of a workgroup that is currently studying the effects of motorized water sports on shoreline erosion along the Willamette River. I recognize that the ability to recreate on the river is very important to many Wilsonville residents, and I firmly believes in balancing the interests of recreators with those of riverfront property owners. I do not believe lawmakers should impose additional limits on the use of the river until we have a better idea of whether and to what extent that use is causing property damage.

NERON: The river is one of Wilsonville's most remarkable places and we need to make sure it is available for many kinds of recreation. While I understand that some boaters don't want limits on how they use their boats, we have to have a balanced approach that supports all river users. If the study currently being conducted shows that erosion of the river banks and damage to docks is due to a lack of wake limits, then I will support reasonable changes to benefit all river users. If necessary, I will support setting appropriate limits once we have more conclusive information.

SPOKESMAN: What's the biggest challenge facing HD 26 in the next four years?

VIAL: We have excellent schools in our district, but many are facing budget challenges. As a former school board chair, I am committed to providing all students with a high-quality education. That's why I voted to increase the State's K-12 education budget and have worked to return control over educational operations and finance to local school officials to ensure that more money goes directly into the classroom. I also support giving parents greater choice over how and where their children are educated, which is why he has fought to give tax breaks to parents who save for K-12 private schooling.

Neron: HD 26's population is growing faster than other regions in Oregon right now. Our biggest challenge will be to maintain and improve our current infrastructure (such as the I-5 Boone Bridge) while we manage and anticipate growth so that our communities have well-planned roads, transportation options, parks, as well as housing that is affordable to the people who live and work within our communities. The reality of living in a beautiful and livable area is that we have to be in a state of constant monitoring and adjustment, as we quite literally welcome new community members daily.

SPOKESMAN: Aurora Airport's expansion has come under fire for possible negative impacts to the region. What is your stand on it?

NERON: I believe in protecting Wilsonville's liveability and honoring Oregon land use laws. Property value decreases below a flight path as air traffic and noise from jets increase. Clackamas County and the City of Wilsonville need a seat at the planning table, as this project would rely largely on infrastructure north of the airport. Current infrastructure south of the river is inadequate for development, meanwhile the Salem airport is only 22 miles south and capable of continuing to accept such air traffic. We should not develop our valuable Class 1 and 2 farmland as the result of a broken process.

VIAL: The City of Wilsonville has long touted having the Aurora Airport nearby as an economic asset. I support the Aurora Airport expansion for several reasons. As our population and economy grow, extending the runway at the Aurora Airport will provide businesses in the area with an alternative method of transporting supplies and personnel. It will also improve efficiency for businesses that currently have to fly to the Hillsboro Airport in order to use its extended runway before taking longer trips. These trips increase carbon emissions and costs to local employers, making it more expensive to do business in Wilsonville.

SPOKESMAN: ODOT doesn't think the Boone Bridge capacity can be increased in the next decade, possibly two. What can be done by the Legislature to mitigate the traffic snarls caused by I-5 in Wilsonville?

VIAL: Our population is growing rapidly. I have voted to improve public transportation around the state, but it is unlikely that transit alone will solve all of our congestion. The Boone Bridge requires serious upgrades both in order to increase capacity and to prevent catastrophic damage in the event of an earthquake. Although ODOT is unable to fund these projects anytime soon, I have fought to give local governments the ability to invest in infrastructure projects—such as the construction of another bridge over the Willamette River—at little or no cost to the public by engaging in public-private partnerships.

NERON: As a state representative, I will work hard to move the Boone Bridge up on the State Legislature's priority list. With daily, predictable traffic snarls we cannot wait the projected 10-20 years for the bridge to be attended to. At minimum, it needs the addition of auxiliary lanes in both directions to address current congestion, and seismic upgrades so that it can withstand a major earthquake. Our legislature must help protect communities and farmland south of the bridge from development at the very least until logical improvements to this essential regional connector are significantly improved.


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