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Three vie for two Tigard City Council seats

The two candidates with the most votes will fill the two council seats

TIGARD - Three candidates, including one incumbent, are making a pitch for two open Tigard City Council seats up for grabs in the Nov. 7 election.

Current councilor Sydney Sherwood, who will be completing her first four-year term at the end of the year, is running for re-election, along with Tigard residents Gretchen Buehner and Joshua Chaney. The two candidates receiving the most votes will fill the council positions.

In a recent interview, the candidates were asked the following questions:

n Why are you running for City Council?

n What do you think are the biggest issues facing the city today?

n What would you do to address them?

n How would you rate the current City Council on handling the issues it has faced?

n Assuming Bull Mountain becomes incorporated as a city, what do you think Tigard should do or not do as situations arise, and what should its attitude be toward its new neighbor?

n How would your past experience make you a better councilor?

Following are their answers.

Gretchen Buehner

Gretchen Buehner is making a second run for the Tigard City Council because she feels the city is facing a lot of major issues right now.

The city is in the process of working to revitalize the downtown area, updating the Comprehensive Plan that was last revised in 1983, and dealing with density issues and finding more park land.

Buehner serves on the City Center Advisory Commission, which is working to implement plans approved for the downtown area.

She also is active in transportation issues, currently serving as chairwoman of the Transportation Financing Strategies Task Force.

'We've got some serious transportation issues,' she said. 'I've been working on so many transportation issues, so it's important for me to be there for the follow-through as these come to fruition.'

Another key issue Tigard is facing is finding a permanent water source, and Buehner said that her service on the Tigard Water Board and Intergovernmental Water Board will help the council arrive at the right decision.

'The decision must be made in the next couple of years,' she said.

Finding ways to solve the congestion on Highway 99W is also important to Buehner, who noted that the city just got a grant to study that issue.

Buehner is a strong proponent of volunteerism, noting that Tigard has a huge number of volunteers who save the city a lot of money.

'Volunteers bring a public involvement and a public voice to our issues,' she said. 'When people serving on a task force come up with ideas, the council listens to them.'

As for how the current council is doing its job, Buehner noted that the large turnover during the past few years, including two mayors dying in office, has presented a challenge.

'In my humble opinion, with so much turnover, it's been hard to have cohesiveness,' she said. 'They've done a good job under the circumstances.'

As for the city trying to annex Bull Mountain, Buehner feels the council stumbled on occasion.

'(Former city manager) Bill Monahan became the focal point of the anti-Tigard focus,' she said. 'The real issue was whether the people (on Bull Mountain) wanted to be in the city of Tigard. Bill Monahan became a flashpoint.'

Buehner feels that if Bull Mountain becomes an incorporated city, it will be easier for Tigard to deal with, because they will be dealing with a formalized city.

'People who run a city will have to follow rules and regulations,' she said. 'We would have to develop a rapport with them. We must remember that about 40 percent of Bull Mountain is in the city of Tigard.'

Buehner said she has had a lot of experience on governmental boards and is committed to public service.

'I think I can make a difference,' she said. 'I have a strong commitment to my city. I still want to live here 10 or 20 years from now.'

Buehner has watched Tigard grow over the years, noting that it will hit the 50,000-population mark in the future, which will mean another major milestone.

'I hope Tigard will take a more assertive stand with the county,' she said. 'The south county has lost out on a number or projects. The squeaky wheel gets the most attention, and Tigard needs to be a little more squeaky.'

Joshua Chaney

Joshua Chaney is making a second try for a seat on the Tigard City Council because 'there's definitely still a need for things to happen in the city.'

He added, 'Last time I ran, I wanted to work on the downtown, but now there are different needs and concerns.'

He feels the effort to revitalize the downtown area is in limbo and that he would bring a new focus to the City Council.

'I have no problems with the current council, but they need a new perspective,' he said.

He cited traffic as 'always a major concern.'

'It's a hard one - we don't have local control,' he said. 'We need to create a good relationship with the state people and stick to the goals the council has already put forward.

'I would add to the greenspaces and parks. Now we have to go to other cities to use them.'

On the issue of the city's efforts to annex Bull Mountain, Chaney said, 'I think (the council) should have treated Bull Mountain with more respect and courtesy.

'I will do things differently. I will listen to the people and take to heart what they say. We're there to deal with issues - that's what the council is about.'

If unincorporated Bull Mountain becomes a city, 'I would hope it goes well for them,' Chaney said.

'The relationship (between Tigard and unincorporated Bull Mountain) has really soured. You can't blame either side for that.

'We will still have to live next to them and have to deal with them. It's unfortunate that they couldn't become part of our city.'

As for future city of Bull Mountain residents using Tigard facilities, Chaney said, 'I'm using things in other cities. Our library is public. You shouldn't punish someone because they don't live in the city.'

Chaney said he feels that the City Council is sending a message that it doesn't provide an open process by not allowing people to speak on every issue at council meetings, whether or not it's on the agenda.

As for the experience he would bring to the council, Chaney said, 'I would like to think I'm a patient person, and I listen very well. I try to do my homework. It would be good to have a mix on the council.

'I'll come in with a fresh perspective and different point of view. I live and work in Tigard. I live and breathe Tigard. I am the man on the street.'

Chaney thinks Tigard has lost its focus and should work on becoming a family-friendly city.

'People drive through Tigard,' he said. 'How many people get off Pacific Highway and know what's here?'

Sydney Sherwood

Sydney Sherwood, who is finishing up her first four-year term on the City Council, is running again because 'there are so many projects to finish up and we (the current council) have worked so cohesively together.'

She added, 'Downtown is where it's at - there are projects to finish. We do have a good relationship with the county. And people need a choice.'

The big issues facing the city are still transportation and growth, according to Sherwood.

'It's primarily 99W,' she said. 'And we're in talks with ODOT about turning over Hall Boulevard to us. We base a lot of stuff we do in the city on the fact that it's a state problem, but the state has no money to fix it.'

As for growth, the city's Comprehensive Plan was last updated 20 years ago, and the process has started to update it again, which Sherwood wants to be involved with.

'The council only sets three or four goals each year instead of a long list to work on,' she added. 'We keep our goals in front of us. We're looking at ways to partner with other entities to find solutions. We also look to our citizens to come up with ideas. The grocers got on board on the street maintenance fee after they got involved in setting it up.

'We feel that 'if you don't like it, come up with your own solution.' Then it's not something we dreamed up. But those who use it should pay.'

As for how Sherwood would rank the current council, she said, 'As for handling (the attempt to annex) Bull Mountain, we did the best we could under the circumstances. We were very naïve, but we had the best of intentions. The best solution is still for them to come into the city.

'There are 10 different things we could have done to stop them (from attempting to incorporate), but we didn't. Unfortunately, there is so much acrimony.'

Sherwood believes the council has been supportive of city staff.

'We've done a pretty good job,' she said. 'We inherited a lot of issues - traffic, a lack of parks, Bull Mountain, downtown - but we've kept a united front.'

If Bull Mountain incorporates as a city, 'we need to be best friends with them,' Sherwood said. 'They won't have any money at first. We will offer to work with them. Even if incorporation doesn't pass, we still need to work with them.'

Sherwood feels she has had lots of hands-on experience in dealing with city issues on the council and has worked to bring the other members up to speed on social issues, such as homelessness.

'I want to serve another term because I need to do this for myself,' she said. 'I think the next four years will be much easier, even if Bull Mountain doesn't become a city.'