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Willey: City's vision drives economic expansion


Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey’s State of the City address last week was part status report and part pep talk.

Appearing before a stand-room-only crowd at the Glenn & Viola Walters Cultural Arts Center on Thursday, Willey highlighted major accomplishments during the past year and previewed actions to come on key issues.

Willey was especially proud of the Hillsboro Hops Single-A baseball team moving to town and Intel’s surprise announcement to build a second new $3 billion fabricating facility on its Ronler Acres campus. Going forward, he prioritized tackling Washington County’s growing congestion problems and planning a wide range of new housing for the city’s increasing population.

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey was upbeat throughout his third annual State of the City address.“Without question, the most challenging task the city must anticipate every year is managing change,” Willey told the audience, which included many community and business leaders, along with elected officials ranging from 1st District Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici to Metro President Tom Hughes, Metro Councilor Kathryn Harrington, the rest of the Hillsboro City Council and fellow mayors from throughout the region.

Willey repeatedly praised the other elected officials for working together to solve the region’s problems. He thanked Bonamci for securing Federal Aviation Administration approval to finish Northeast Veterans Drive before the competing Washington County Fair and Oregon International Air Show in July, State Sen. George Starr for finding $47 million to rebuild the Sunset Highway’s Brookwood/Helvetica interchange and the other officials for meeting both formally and informally to set priorities.

After the address, Pamela Treece, executive director of the Westside Economic Alliance, said one of Willey’s strengths is connecting voters with their elected officials and fostering an atmosphere of collaboration.

Mostly, however, Willey boosted Hillsboro, calling it both the “economic driver of the state” and a city that honors its historic agricultural roots. He frequently returned to the theme of the city’s new branding campaign that appeared behind him on the center’s stage, “We’re Growing Great Things in Hillsboro.” It was developed by city staff and consultants last year to foster community pride and help with business recruitment efforts.

“This is not an empty promise or a baseless claim. This is what makes Hillsboro Hillsboro. It captures what drives us to be better and visionary in everything we do,” he said.

Willey did not unveil any new policy initiatives during the address. Nor did he mention any of the recent bad news, such as the unexpected dissolution of the Downtown Business Alliance or the shocking arrest of off-duty Hillsboro Police Officer Timothy Cannon on aggravated attempted murder charges. Instead, it was an evening to celebrate the past and build enthusiasm for the future.

The event was the third annual State of the City address given by Willey, who is just starting his second term. His predecessor, former Mayor Tom Hughes, praised Willey for starting the tradition.

“My State of the City speeches were kind of catch as catch can. I only gave a couple at the invitation of other organizations,” Hughes said.