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Two challengers emerge in THPRD's Position 5 race

Beaverton-area voters may be a little confused to see they have three candidates to choose from in the race for the Position 5 seat on the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District Board of Directors.

While ballots in the May 17 special election show Tim Tank and Lisa Michaels challenging incumbent Joe Blowers for the position he has held since 2003, the voters' pamphlet only includes candidate statements for Blowers and Michaels.

Tank said it was no mistake. He chose not to file a candidate statement, but is indeed still in the running for the post.

The Beaverton Valley Times took time this week to talk with each of the candidates to learn more about their race for the park district board.

Blowers says there is still work to do

Blowers, a life science teacher at East Sylvan Middle School, said he felt compelled to run for a third four-year term on the board.

'We are in the middle of the bond implementation process, and I feel we have an agreement with voters that we need to follow through on,' the 55-year-old West Slope neighbor said. 'In the last week, it's been fun to see us acquire land for trail connections and a future community park in the Cedar Mill area. We have other things in the works, as well, and I would like to be part of that.'

As the biologist on the board, he brings a unique perspective to board discussions and decisions, he added.

'I understand the science and focus on natural resources and sustainability,' the avid cyclist said. 'I also bring a trails perspective, while the other members bring more of a sports and business background. I feel like we really complement each other.

'While we don't always agree, we make compromises to come up with decisions we can all live with. And, in the end, we come to a win-win eventually.'

In his time serving the park district, he's been particularly proud of being a strong advocate for working with community partners to acquire the Mount Williams property to complete a segment of the regional Westside Trail from Burntwood Way to Davis Road. 'When it is developed, it will be really nice,' Blowers said.

He also pushed for the district to collect data on who uses trails and supported the community garden program.

In the future, Blowers said he would continue to focus on helping to make the park district more environmentally friendly, provide new park and natural areas in poorly served areas and work to restore wildlife habitat, connect trails, expand outreach efforts and responsibly manage finances and facilities.

Michaels says stop buying, start building

'I am running for the same reason I ran before - I am upset with the way the district is using property tax dollars and not adhering to its 20-year plan,' Michaels said. 'They are not hitting the goals they established in 1995.'

Michaels is an independent TV advertising sales representative and producer of her own public access show 'Live with Lisa Michaels.' While she has never served on a THPRD advisory committee, she has served on the Murrayhill Little League board and been an active leader with the Washington County Republican Central Committee, including being a Republican nominee for state Senate in 2008 and the Oregon House of Representatives in 2000.

Her days with the Tualatin Valley Toastmasters shine through when she gets going on her concerns about the park district's direction.

'They need to build fields and facilities for people to use,' Michaels said. 'Most of their funding has gone to nature parks and trails.

'They can't keep acquiring a vacant lot, plopping down a sign and calling it a nature park. We need parks that we can do something with - that have play structures, tennis courts and ball fields. We need to shake it up, to get more play for our tax dollars.'

Michaels, who lives in the southwest end of the park district near Murrayhill, believes she's the right person to shake up the board.

'As a mother of three boys who has used the park district for the last 20 years, I have some understanding as to how the park system works,' she said. 'We have one of the nicest park systems in the country. We need to stop acquiring land and start building on the land that we have.'

She said she would bring real world and marketing experience to the board.

'I have an understanding of the community needs and wants in contrast to what the government wants to provide to the community,' she said. 'If you elect me, I will keep you posted as to what is going on monthly in the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District on my interactive cable access show.'

Tank focuses on district's sustainability

'I feel like I have a great vision for the development of organizations,' said Tank, who is a financial consultant with Frazier Hunnicutt Financial and a former high school college counselor and coach for track and cross-country in the Beaverton School District.

The 37-year-old Cooper Mountain resident volunteers his time with several groups, including the newly reestablished Aloha Business Association; Wild Canyon Events, a nonprofit that raises money for northwest youth organizations; and Greenlight Greater Portland, a private sector-led economic development group that works to promote job creation in the region.

As someone who has enjoyed being a park district patron for years, he feels THPRD is 'walking a fine line' in maintaining the high-quality facilities and services residents have come to expect.

'I feel a huge responsibility in making sure we maintain current facilities and programs,' Tank said of his reason for running. 'We should make that a priority before we create new programs and facilities.

'We need to make sure we are sustainable. I am in favor of expansion, but not at the cost of the deterioration of existing programs and facilities.'

He said he would bring fiscal responsibility to the board.

'We need to be strategic and balanced with the growth of the district,' he said. 'We want to ensure that the growth is sustainable for decades to come.'

As the district implements projects funded by its $100 million bond measure supported by voters in 2008, he would like sustainability to be a focal point in the process.

'We need to be fiscally responsible with how the bond dollars are spent and distributed,' Tank said. 'We also need to educate people on how their property tax dollars are spent while making sure it is done in a sustainable way.'