Greg Malinowski says he looks forward to continuing to encourage citizens in community planning — and being part of a board majority to reshape government — if he wins a third term as Washington County commissioner.
"It's going to be a lively election next year," he said.
"It would be nice to have a third term during which I could push a few more progressive ideas and see if we can provide a few more urban amenities. But we have some more work to do."
Malinowski, 59, is the only one of three incumbents seeking re-election to his own seat in District 2, which covers a wide swath of urban unincorporated communities in the county's northeast corner and part of Beaverton.
Andy Duyck is retiring after eight years as board chairman, and 24 years overall on the board. Bob Terry is yielding the District 4 seat to run for Duyck's position, for which four others have announced.
Malinowski and Commissioner Dick Schouten, who is not up for election in 2018, have endorsed Metro Councilor Kathryn Harrington for board chair.
All board positions are nonpartisan. If no one wins a majority in the May 15 primary, the top two candidates advance to the November general election.
Malinowski and his wife, Jonella, run a family farm on 60 acres in North Bethany — straddling Multnomah County — that dates back to his father more than 75 years ago.
He worked in technology manufacturing, inventory and quality control for 30 years until Tektronix laid him off in 2008. He was working in a furniture store when he was elected to the open District 2 seat in 2010.
Malinowski defeated Bob Zahrowski, a business professor at the Wilsonville campus of Oregon Institute of Technology, to win a second term in the 2014 primary. Zahrowski received $1,500 from Oregonians for Affordable Housing, the homebuilders' political committee, according to reports filed with the secretary of state.
Malinowski said development and the cost of housing will be major issues.
"It is hard to convince the public there is an issue until they can see it in their front yards. I tell people if they wait until they hear the bulldozers running, there is nothing anybody can do," he said.
"So I am trying to encourage people to think and look at the people they have to vote for, to ask questions, and to check to see who is funding them."
The county's median household income approached $70,000 in 2015, and its unemployment rate of 3.3 percent in July was tied with Hood River County for Oregon's lowest. Yet the county's median home price is $383,500, according to the online real estate database company Zillow, and a study pegged the county at a minimum 14,000 housing units below the need.
Malinowski said he commends county efforts to encourage nonprofit organizations to build lower-cost housing, but the number of units is woefully short of a much larger need.
"If you are at the median income or below, we're not actively pushing for anyone to build for you," Malinowski said. "It does not help that for half the jobs in this county, we're not pushing for housing. But we cannot afford subsidized housing for everybody."
Malinowski wants to promote development — or redevelopment — of land along such major high-traffic corridors as SW Canyon Road between Beaverton and Portland and Tualatin Valley Highway, which links Beaverton and Hillsboro.
"It is not subsidizing growth to rezone it," he said. "It's doing the right thing to provide housing."
He said the time is right to move away from traditional single-use zoning, which separates housing on large lots away from services, and allow mixed uses on what have been commercial zones.
Malinowski got involved with county government in the early 1980s as part of the citizen planning effort, now know as community participation organizations, which are largely dependent on volunteers even though they receive county staff support.
He said he spent years urging residents to put in the time needed to shape community plans such as North Bethany, where developers sought permission to build on steep slopes. (An appeal by the Forest Park Neighborhood Association resulted in a natural features buffer; there is a dispute over whether to reduce its size.)
"I got tired of giving that speech for 20 or 25 years only to see the plans go roaring into here (county government), disappear into some back room with a developer and staff and commissioners, and things would get changed," Malinowski said.
"I am trying to do the same thing I did when I was with the CPO, figuring out how to plug people into the system — only now I am doing it from this side. It hasn't been 100 percent. I'd like to think I have moved some things into a better position for people."