Wilsonville City Council interviews candidates to replace Susie Stevens
After Mayor Tim Knapp and Council President Kristin Akervall recently narrowed down the list of candidates to replace former councilor Susie Stevens from 10 to five, Wilsonville City Council interviewed the finalists during a meeting Monday, Aug. 19.
Three of the six questions the council asked were about policy issues like traffic mitigation, land development and environmental protection. The council also asked them to describe a current City project and what skills they would bring to improve that project, how they work with people with whom they disagree with and why the council should select them for the position.
Here's a recap of the interviews.
Olive Gallagher, who serves on the Wilsonville-Metro Community Enhancement Committee, said one projects the City was working on that she endorses is a tree planting effort organized by the Public Works Department.
"It says a lot about this town and the fact that it's committed to the green space, foliage and the health of the community," she said. "The tree project caught my eye because I see enormous potential not only for the health of the city but also a learning project for our young ones especially around the crisis of climate change."
After being asked to describe a time when she disagreed with colleagues, Gallagher mentioned a time when she resigned as executive director of a nonprofit after an advisory board nixed her initiatives.
"It taught me to make sure before you come onto a board that you aren't walking into an impossible situation," she said.
Gallagher said she was not an expert on traffic mitigation and so did not provide a potential solution to traffic issues in Wilsonville but said she has seen ample reckless driving in the city and that it's up to citizens to be more careful to avoid crashes and endangering others.
"At some point there has to be accountability for the people that live here. You can't police everything," she said.
Gallagher also said she did not know enough about land use planning to opine on it.
Regarding the environment and farmland, she established her conviction that both should be protected.
"We really can and should be known as a model for many cities across the country. It's very important," she said. "We are having very serious problems in the world because we aren't paying attention to our environment."
Katie Hamm, who grew up in the Wilsonville community and is a mortgage lender for Umpqua Bank, said the City's plan to revitalize Town Center is a project she is excited about.
"It (Wilsonville) has grown so much and I think we have a pretty amazing opportunity to make our Town Center even better than it is … something that is accessible to all our citizens, a real destination for families with young kids, older people, single people."
Hamm said that in her job she is a conduit between clients, real estate agents, escrow officers and others and has a knack for leadership and managing personalities. Councilor Ben West commented during the meeting that people who have worked with Hamm attested to that claim.
As for traffic, Hamm said the City could try to attract businesses that don't restrict people to the standard 9-5 work schedule to more evenly distribute traffic throughout the day and make sure people have access to public transportation.
Hamm did not provide a clear answer regarding land use and development. However, she advocated for both farmland and environmental protection. She also said Wilsonville citizens should decide whether the City should eventually develop land south of the Willamette River.
"I think there can be a sense of helplessness where people think the problem is too big to solve," she said. "That's one of the amazing things about local government is we can make an impact here and in our backyard. We want to lead a legacy of a beautiful environment. I want that available for my daughters and the next generation."
After being asked why the council should pick her, Hamm described her history in Wilsonville: she went to local schools, left for awhile and then returned to raise a family. And she said that she is currently at a time in her life when she has time to handle additional responsibilities.
"The timing is right. I have the energy the excitement to bring to this council to join the four of you," Hamm said.
William Amadon, who is a member of the City's Budget Committee, said he is excited about the use of urban renewal, collecting the taxes associated with increases in property values to pay for infrastructure improvements, to spark development and said the City should focus on creating affordable housing for all income levels.
"Nine out of 10 people who work in the city actually commute. If we get more housing for people to live here that might mitigate the traffic congestion," Amadon said.
Amadon was a chief financial officer for many years including at David Evans and Associates and recalls at one point butting heads with a marketing specialist who regularly exceeded his budget. But he said the two discussed their differences, came to an understanding and worked well together thereafter.
"I think the right approach was me being bold enough to ask the right questions. He knew I was doing my job and protecting the assets of the company," Amadon said.
When asked about traffic, Amadon pointed to the City's work to try to convince the Oregon State Legislature and other entities to fund a project to add an I-5 southbound auxiliary lane and seismically retrofit the Boon Bridge.
"I'm glad the Legislature and the state and ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation) is working on it and City Council is paying attention to it," Amadon said. "My question is (is) the fix sufficient for the next 10, 20 years?"
Amadon didn't comment much on land use and development strategies but did commend the City for its work to protect the environment and its planning in general.
"If something is broken the city gets on it. We don't let things pile up and become worse. We take care of our assets and I think that's one of the reasons Wilsonville looks so attractive to new people coming in and residents that live here or work here," he said.
As for why the council should pick him, Amadon pointed to his work on the budget committee and preparing tax returns for the elderly in the community as a volunteer for the Wilsonville chapter of TaxAide. He also said he has time for the role.
"I believe I can make a contribution. My experience and background could be helpful but more importantly I'm at a place in life where I can commit the time and energy to be an active and productive member of the council," Amadon said.
Joann Linville, who serves as the chair of the City's Development Review Board A and has 35 years of experience working for community colleges, said such experiences would help her contribute to the planning of the nascent Basalt Creek Industrial Area.
"I have been active in my role in the college (she was the vice president for student services and vice president for learning services at Western College in Yuma, Ariz.) working with development and business interests," she said. "Oftentimes when cities are seeking new businesses to move into an area, they're looking for an educated workforce as well. Doing that visiting with new development opportunities, new industry is something I'm very comfortable doing."
She said sitting in offices with fellow high-ranking members of colleges has taught her that compromise and sometimes sacrifice is often the best path forward, but that people who don't end up getting their way should at least have a chance to be heard.
"While we all want and need our individual priorities to be met the organization moves forward in a more effective way when we listen and when we collaborate and we look for opportunities to move the organization in a positive way. I might need to make my needs secondary to the needs of my colleagues. We all can't have what we want all the time," she said.
Linville said developing infrastructure that supports alternative forms of transportation could be a way to mitigate traffic. In response to the question about land development, she said the City has done a good job providing housing for a variety of income levels and mentioned both the low density housing in Frog Pond West and the plan for there to be more high density housing in Town Center as examples.
"I see development happening in the city of Wilsonville as purposeful and in areas that are logical," she said.
Linville also said the City has done a good job limiting growth south of the Willamette River and protecting the environment, citing its recent decision to forge an agreement with Portland General Electric to become entirely reliant on renewable energy by next year.
Finally, Linville said she would be a quality council member because of her professional experiences and commitment to the community.
"I bring the caring for the community I live in to this place. I bring board experience. I have worked in state agencies for the majority of my career and so I understand what it's like to work within the constraints of rules and laws," she said.
Like Linville, John Budiao, who was in the military for over 20 years, recently won the Rotary Club of Wilsonville's First Citizen award for his volunteering efforts and finished third in the 2018 race for two open city council seats, pointed to Basalt Creek as a project he could positively contribute to. He said he would make sure to talk to neighbors in the area to learn their concerns as well as other pertinent interests. He also said Basalt Creek will be an opportunity for the City to bring more businesses to Wilsonville.
"What I bring to the table is I'm a good communicator," he said.
Regarding the question about a time when he collaborated with someone he disagreed with, Budiao discussed a dispute he had with officers who outranked him about whether to pack more bags onto an aircraft. Budiao felt that doing so would be a safety hazard and didn't acquiesce to their demands. In the end, they followed Budiao's direction.
"It was intense because (for) one they outranked me. But I had the upper hand because I just wanted to run a safe and efficient show," he said. "We basically came to a consensus that they were going to follow the flow, make things right."
As for traffic, Budiao said asking the right questions about strategies for the placement of lanes and on and off ramps could be beneficial.
"I don't know all the answers. I've never done a study. I'm not a traffic (expert). But if you never ask the question the answer is always no," Budiao said.
Budiao did not provide a direct answer to the question about land development and discussed his experience working for an aquarium when asked about environmental protection.
"I always look to how can we be better stewards, how can we use our resources wisely. Reuse, recycle, repurpose," he said.
Budiao said the council should pick him because he's well-educated, loves Wilsonville and has no ulterior agenda.
"I have a servant's heart through and through," he said.
At the end of the interview, West, who aligned with Budiao during the 2018 campaign, asked Budiao if he had ever applied for a City board or committee. Budiao said he applied for the budget committee but was not selected.
"I don't know why I didn't make the budget committee. It's one of my favorite things. I'm a numbers guy. But again, it goes back to Sun Tzu (the author of "The Art of War.") I don't know who was against me. I hope Wilsonville got a good player. But I'm still here tonight applying for this position and I hope you all see favor in that," he said.
The council is slated to deliberate and make the appointment during a meeting Sept. 5.
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