Political challenger responds to Beaverton Valley Times' survey

John A. Somoza

Age: 50

Family: Wife of 16 years; Proud father of fraternal 14-year-old triplets (one girl and two boys in the Beaverton School District)

Job and education background:

Education: Lewis & Clark Law School – Juris Doctor; Portland State University – Masters of International Management; Syracuse University – B.S. Computer Engineering

Employment: Higher Education Program Manager for Intel Corporation; 29 years in the high-tech and semiconductor industry with positions in engineering, sales, marketing and legal.

Neighborhood you live in: Hyland HillsJohn Somoza

Length of time living in Beaverton: 20 years

City involvement and community service experience:

City of Beaverton – Civic Plan Steering Committee; City of Beaverton – Committee for Citizen Involvement; International School of Beaverton – Community Engagement Committee; Washington County – Reserve Deputy Sheriff; and Washington County Foster Parent

What skills, knowledge and experiences do you bring to the City Council?

Tremendous business acumen to be able to analyze the issues in a professional and systematic way to make intelligent decisions that are based on data and not on "gut" feelings. As Mayor Bloomberg was want to say, “In God we trust, all others bring data!”

Why are you running?

To bring new ideas to the City Council and to bring a can-do attitude instead of a “status-quo is good enough” attitude. To add intelligent decision making to the City Council and to be the person who is not afraid to ask the tough questions in order to make the best decisions for Beaverton. To make Beaverton a better place to live and not one that is congested with dense infill and grand developments that disregard the existing citizens. To help move projects along to conclusion instead of wasting endless years and hundreds of thousands of dollars on “planning exercises.” To make sure the City Council spends money based on wise and efficient decisions instead of just spending it because they can. To make sure Beaverton is the best place it can be and to make sure we keep marijuana dispensaries out of Beaverton so it is a safe place for our children to grow up in.

How should the city prioritize spending?

The city should prioritize spending on areas that improve the efficiency of the city. By becoming more efficient we are able to save money and lower taxes for everyone. With taxes rising every year, it is more important than ever that the city look for ways to do more with less instead of asking for more money for projects such as moving City Hall to a grander and more expensive location or to build a brand new police station without evaluating other more cost effective solutions.

What community issues have you tackled at the neighborhood, Planning Commission or City Council level? Have you worked to resolve or address a concern within Beaverton?

I was able to stop a developer from tearing down an existing house in our neighborhood in order to put up two houses in its place. I did this by successfully challenging this development through an appeal to the Planning Commission. At that time, my opponent was on the Planning Commission and he voted on the side of the developer over the protests of the long-term senior residents of my neighborhood. Fortunately, other Planning Commission members voted differently than my opponent, and I was able to successfully stop this developer in his tracks.

Whats one issue the City Council tackled that you wish had turned out differently? What went wrong?

There are many, but the most notable issue is the development at The Round. This project was a mess from day one, and the City Council is fully to blame for it. This was a clear example of a City Council that had big eyes for development but no sense of economics. I would not have voted for such a project on the terms the city agreed to. History has shown this to be a boondoggle that keeps costing the Beaverton taxpayers today.

What is an initiative you feel turned out well, and what made it work?

I am still waiting for the promised downtown redevelopment. I am still waiting for the creekside project. I am waiting for our traffic problems to be resolved. To be honest, other than keeping the street lights on and roads paved, there is nothing particularly notable to mention.

The city faces a number of looming issues. What should leaders deal with now, and how? Which should be priorities for later?

Sometimes you just need to stop and take a break and get your own house in order before you try to take on other issues. I believe that City Hall can be made far more efficient than it is now and that would be my priority. My other priority would be to eliminate the strong-mayor form of government and to move Beaverton to a city-manager/council form of government. Beaverton is way overdue in making this change, but the "old guard" at City Hall keeps perpetuating this form of government. Let’s move Beaverton into the 21st century!

What should voters know about you?

I am not afraid to stand up and be heard when I see waste or injustice in the system.

How do you plan to encourage citizen involvement/engagement within the community?

By embracing citizen participation in City Council meetings and NOT dismissing citizens who disagree with my viewpoints as some city councilors are known to do.

What distinguishes you from your opponent?

Education, experience and leadership.

What is your leadership style and how will you work with the mayor, other members of the council and city staff?

Lead with data and fight with passion. Look for creative solutions to problems with all of City Hall. Embrace opposing viewpoints and help move everyone to a higher ground to make Beaverton a great place for the existing residents and a desirable destination for future residents.

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