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Election 2014: Marc San Soucie seeks re-election to City Council

Incumbent candidate for Position 5 responds to Beaverton Valley Times' survey


Marc San Soucie

Age: 56

Family: Married to Kathryn Harrington; eleven nieces and nephews across the country; parents in Hillsboro

Job and education background:

Employment: Software development engineer, manager, executive; consultant: San Soucie Consulting, since 2007; Passport Online, Beaverton, 2001-2006; ShareThis, Portland, 2000-2001; GemStone Systems, Beaverton, 1990-2000; Wang Laboratories, 1980-1990

Education: BA, Physics and Music, Dartmouth College, 1978; MA, Music Composition, UC San Diego, 1980Marc San Soucie

Neighborhood you live in: Five Oaks Triple Creek in northwest Beaverton

Length of time living in Beaverton: Nine years as of May 2014

City involvement and community service experience:

Joint Water Commission, commissioner representing Beaverton, since July 2008; Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District, Bond Oversight Committee chair, since May 2009; Oregon Technology Business Center, board member, since January 2010; Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce, Business Advocacy Council, since November 2007; Beaverton Planning Commission, 2007-2008; Beaverton Committee for Citizen Involvement, at-large member, 2006-2008; Urban Renewal Charter Amendment Task Force, chair, July-August 2008; Development Code Advisory Committee, Planning Commission representative, 2007; Downtown Parking Strategy Study, Planning Commission representative, 2007; Beaverton CCI representative to County Committee for Citizen Involvement, 2006-2008; and Washington County Planning Commission, September 2006-January 2014, Chair July 2008-January 2014

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

I think my strongest public service skill is assembling information and perspective from many sources, developing a considered opinion based on that information, and articulating in clear language how that gathered perspective has led me to positions or decisions. By basing my work on listening, on thoughtful analysis and consideration, and on respect for the audience, I make it easier for others to find value in the positions I’ve developed, and so make it easier to build support and consensus.

I have a very positive attitude and believe in maintaining that under all circumstances, listening carefully and working to fully understand the point of view of people communicating with me. I’ve found people tend to respond positively to a respectful listener who answers with courtesy and fact-based information.

I use these skills to develop and maintain great relationships with the mayor and staff and my colleagues, which is critical to moving new ideas from concept into action, and to communicate with the public about things we are considering. I will continue to work to generate enthusiasm and excitement in the community for the programs we have or are about to launch, especially those in the area of physical and economic development, which are mostly new and need regular explaining and support.

I work with others to organize people and businesses for the purpose of accelerating business growth and attracting new business. This will always be a team effort, with different groups of people working in a variety of ways concurrently to create the magnetism that attracts the people and business we want. Bringing people with different perspectives together to accomplish common goals requires a lot of patient listening and respectful dialog. I think I do well at that.

Why are you running?

I love Beaverton and want it to be the best possible place for all of us. Our city has some great opportunities in front of it right now, and I want to help achieve those for Beaverton. I think my positive and professional approach is very necessary for a City Councilor.

How should the city prioritize spending?

I think there are three main categories of priority, in this order:

1. Fix, Replace, and Preserve: Repave roads that need it; improve road and intersection design and performance; fix pedestrian safety problems; repair, replace, and maintain underground water, sewer, and storm pipes; reduce energy costs and improve our creeks and trees; keep the neighborhoods safe and clean; make sure the police and court have the resources they need and continue to work effectively; keep pursuing grants for project funding.

2. Keep Making Beaverton a Better and Better Place: Respect and pursue the Beaverton Community Vision; create more great public spaces; continue to fund the library and support arts and culture; invest in economic development to expand and bring new business to Beaverton; support organizations that help our neediest residents; keep developing deep relationships with local businesses, property owners, and regional partners so Beaverton stays on everyone’s mind and we can accomplish more; streamline operations when possible to use resources more efficiently.

3. Invest in Opportunities: Consider and pursue opportunities to achieve some of the harder goals of the Community Vision, Civic Plan, Urban Renewal Plan, and other aspirations. Thing big, but act within our capacity.

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?

One of my main efforts since I joined the City Council has been to work with the mayor and staff to develop a marketing focus in the city’s communications work. Beaverton is a wonderful city with a great deal to be proud of, yet sometimes it seems we’ve been shy about our many valuable qualities. We excel in lifestyle, business environment, arts and culture, diversity, schools, parks, natural areas, and many other areas. Sure, we have our issues, but to attract the funding and people who can help us address our needs and make improvements, we have to keep making a case for our great worth.

In my work on both the Beaverton Planning Commission and the City Council, I’ve tried to be supportive of high-quality, innovative development while maintaining the city’s high standards for neighborhood quality and compatibility.

As for concerns, I’ve tried to let residents and business owners know how they can most effectively get city help with local issues such as noise, poorly maintained properties, graffiti, neighborhood speeding, and the like. In many cases people just don’t know how to connect with the right city resource to help them. Our city staff love to solve problems in the neighborhoods, so often it’s just a matter of connecting people to start talking about problems and solutions.

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

The occasional difference of opinion that comes up as the City Council considers actions has not caused any significant ongoing problems. We get our work done reasonably efficiently, for the most part. I think it took longer than I’d have expected to reach a conclusion on the new configuration of City Hall and the proposed Public Safety Center, but we got there and now there seems to be pretty strong consensus on the current course of action.

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

I’m proud of the work I’ve done to help convince City Hall to build our Capital Improvement Plan in a new manner. As in most jurisdictions, choices about how to spend infrastructure and major project money have often been made, or at least strongly recommended, by the staff who work on the projects. Public, committee, and council input were usually solicited late, after most of the framework for decisions was set in place.

Through a series of comments on the prior process, conversations about change, and polite cajoling in various discussions, I and others on the council developed consensus with the mayor and department leads about the need for an improved and more wide-open process.

The first and most evident sign of the new process was a series of council/mayor discussions about project priorities, augmented by a council/mayor discussion early this year about overall city priorities. As the new process unfolds this year, leading to next year’s budget cycle, we should see priority discussions and feedback on initial ideas being reviewed by our volunteer committees and by the public. As a result, in 2014 residents will begin contributing meaningfully to decisions about how to spend millions of project dollars.

This has come about, in my opinion, because of a trust relationship that has been developed between the mayor’s office and department leads and most of the City Council. When everyone believes that everyone has in mind the common goal of improving Beaverton, the conversations become very productive and very creative.

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

I’m not sure I’d say we have a lot of big, looming issues. We have some of the same difficulties any community our size has in this region, state, and country. Of the budget priorities I noted before, the first and top category is meant to address fixes and ongoing maintenance so things keep getting better for all of us. With that as top priority, the next set of priorities include these, among many others:

• Construct the already-funded downtown street and streetscape projects so people see change starting to happen. Continue pursuing plans and funding for projects underway but not yet fully funded, such as the big Canyon Road improvement project, the creeks revitalization work, the wayfinding system, and the parallel/alternative street networks.

• Produce a useful result from the Allen Boulevard corridor improvement planning study currently underway. Develop follow-on projects we can implement at reasonable cost to facilitate improvements in the corridor.

• Support the continuing development of the Timberland area to the north, the upcoming development of the Peterkort Sunset Station properties, and the near-future development of the South Cooper Mountain annexation area.

• Continue work to attract interest and investment in our city by landowners, local developers, and private financial interests, so our neighborhood, downtown and urban renewal aspirations can be achieved.

• Develop strong marketing campaigns to continue to raise Beaverton’s profile in the region, state, and nationally. This is a great community, and awareness helps us make the case for continued business growth and attraction. Our strong business community and neighborhoods are assets to tout, and another is our superb local arts and culture community.

• Continue to invest in tools and techniques to encourage people throughout the city to engage, volunteer, offer ideas and opinions, and give feedback on out city work. This includes regular outreach and support through the city’s neighborhood programs (BCCI and NACs), plus through the Diversity Advisory Board, and the upcoming re-visit of the Community Vision.

• Keep working to enhance our public procedures regarding the budget and the Capital Improvement Program, to get more public input at more useful times than late in the decision process. Use council-developed priority lists to help shape budget decisions each year.

• Continue, and expand the use of public roundtable meetings and work sessions to explore issues and projects at their earliest stages, so the council can provide meaningful input to projects and policy concepts long before they start to gel into final form.

What should voters know about you?

I work hard to be an open-minded, always listening, proactive cheerleader for the city, offering ideas and perspective to the mayor, staff, and partners on how best to accomplish city goals, while keeping a knowledgeable eye on city projects and the budget to insure that we make best use of our resources. As I do my City Council work, I try to explain in clear language how I’ve come to my conclusions and decisions.

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

Let’s recognize that it’s “community involvement," not “citizen involvement," as a sizeable fraction of our population are not U.S. citizens. All who live here deserve the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to civic life in Beaverton.

In addition to the Capital Improvement Program changes noted before, I continue to support the work and budget of the Neighborhood Program office, which staffs the Beaverton Committee for Community Involvement and the NACs, among many other activities. I support continued publication and quality input to the city’s periodic newsletter, which surveys tell us is read by a majority of recipients, and the many email distribution lists the city maintains and fills with news.

I’ve also supported our work to expand our volunteer committees, expand volunteer opportunities, and ways to engage potential volunteers — youth and adult — who aren’t selected for formal committee seats.

I’ve worked to expand the number of policy discussions the City Council holds on camera, at early and middle stages of policy development, so people can tune in and learn what we’re considering before the time comes for formal public hearings and decisions. I think we can expand that even further.

What distinguishes you from your opponent?

For one, I love Beaverton and am excited about the great things going on in our community these days.

For another, I spend a great deal of my time out in the community talking with and listening to people, businesses, and partners, so I can best understand how to move Beaverton forward in harmony with the community’s aspirations. I did this before I was a city councilor, and I continue to do it today.

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

I’m patient and listen before talking. I try to appreciate the perspective of the person I’m talking with, even if it turns out we don’t have full agreement, because I always learn something important from a different point of view. I’m also enthusiastic and looking for the positives in any situation, or ways to reach positive outcomes. And I’m never short of ideas and suggestions.

I’ve worked hard and patiently with our mayor to expand the role of the City Council to where it really should be under our form of government. The council has evolved to become a true partner in the development of policies, programs, and projects. I haven’t been alone in pushing for this, but I believe I’ve been a strong voice and very effective in bringing staff along with us on our series of changes. Culture change on this scale requires gentle nudging, encouraging suggestions, positive feedback for changes, and a lot of ideas with a willingness to let go of some of them if they don’t work out. I’ve built up a lot of trust within City Hall, and find that the mayor and staff will always listen to my ideas with open minds.

The result has been early exploration of projects and programs at roundtable meetings, meaningful discussion of policy options at study/work sessions well before final action is contemplated, and a variety of public involvement options for projects of different scale and content. So now the City Council is an active participant in most of the policy and funding level considerations of the city well before they reach the fully-baked stage. I was also the councilor who proposed our successfully implemented but as-yet-unwritten policy that all city code changes will be preceded by a public hearing. This is often a formality, but in the past the mayor’s office simply decided which topics would or would not get hearings.



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