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Bull Mountain candidates lay out the case for new city

(Soapboxes are guest opinions from our readers. Kevin Bauerle, Steven Burke, Kinton Fowler, Lisa Hamilton-Treick, Ken Henschel, Susan Morelli, Charley Radley and Wynne Wakkila are all candidates for the potential city council of Bull Mountain.

We are the eight candidates running for city council of the proposed city of Bull Mountain. Concurrently with voting for the new city of Bull Mountain, the voters of unincorporated Bull Mountain will get to choose five of us to be their new volunteer city council. We wanted to let the Bull Mountain community know a few things about us as a group.

First, some of us were strangers until recently, but all of us are already working well together and have experienced none of the bickering often seen in candidate races. We are less concerned about which five become the city council and more concerned about building a strong, efficient city. Although just five of us will be elected out of the eight, the remaining three pledge to volunteer on key committees and to stay involved in the new city's startup efforts.

Second, despite some claims by incorporation opponents, none of us have any financial interest whatsoever in Bull Mountain beyond the homes we own in the community. We are not a real-estate conspiracy or in this for financial gain. All eight of us care deeply about Bull Mountain, and we are all running for the volunteer city council to solve some of the problems that have intruded on the livability of our area and to make Bull Mountain a better place for our families.

Many of us have already volunteered hundreds or thousands of hours dating back several years in the effort to avoid annexation to Tigard, to change legislation in Salem to allow us this incorporation opportunity and in the effort leading up to this November vote.

Third, we hope to hit the ground running immediately after the election on Nov. 7. We have already participated in a daylong seminar by a city manager with 30 years experience who has assisted in many new-city startups and have learned valuable information about what has to be done quickly, and in what order.

We are also participating in training offered especially to us by the League of Oregon Cities to help us understand the resources available from the league during the transition. We are actively working (in advance of the election) to identify possible candidates for an interim city manager and an interim city recorder to avoid transitional delays.

Fourth, all eight of us agree on an important reality. Staying unincorporated, while legally possible, is just not practical. The Tigard City Council has publicly stated its plans to continue their aggressive annexation policy and has voted to annex land within our boundary as recently as Oct. 10. Eventually we will all be part of Tigard unless we vote to change.

As an unincorporated community with little say in local governmental affairs, we are watching our community degrade under the leadership of others outside of Bull Mountain. We have watched serious deforestation occur on Bull Mountain and have witnessed the effects on the wildlife and on the slope stabilities. We have no accessible public parks for 8,000 residents. We have seen extremely dense development occur on steep slopes and in areas that were supposed to be protected as natural resource areas.

Our Bull Mountain Community Plan has been completely ignored. Our key roads are already showing strain, with more dense development scheduled and no road improvements being planned. And sadly, Bull Mountain is missing the chance to grow together as its own community, working toward common goals.

The very clear reality is that we must change now, or there may be nothing left to save later.

Fifth, we are all confident in Washington County's very thorough analysis of ECONorthwest's independent City of Bull Mountain Economic Feasibility Study. The county has an important responsibility to ensure that a proposed city will be able to thrive financially. While the county noted areas of concern, it also identified revenue sources that had not been included in the feasibility study.

Its conclusion was clear that adequate revenues are available to the new city for the city council to make budgetary decisions that will result in strong funding for all key services, including public safety, road maintenance, planning, etc. Showing their confidence, the Washington County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to allow this effort to move forward to the November ballot.

It is very unusual (and perhaps unprecedented) for a group of candidates all running for the same positions to co-author a letter like this. We wanted you to know that you can be confident in any five of us to lead your new city and to implement positive changes for our Bull Mountain community. Information on our personal qualifications can be found in the voters' pamphlet and at www.CityOfBullMountain.org. When your ballots arrive, please vote 'yes' to incorporate as the city of Bull Mountain, and please take the time to get to know the eight candidates, five of whom hope to soon be leading your new city.