Here are my responses (somewhat abridged) to the BEND CHAMBER candidate questionnaire for the fall ’16 election:
1. What do you believe the Council’s role should be in business growth and development?
Councilors should do everything in their power to incentivize business growth and development. This means looking for ways to expand the city’s business enterprise zones and to keep City support of EDCO at its current levels, as well as encouraging business to find efficiencies through sustainable operations. We also must insist upon “local control” to the benefit of individual businesses: Of note, is that I advocated for ODOT limited access closures on Empire Ave. when it became clear that ODOT’s access policy was going to negatively impact our local businesses there.
2. How important is it to you to develop a relationship and elicit feedback from organizations which represent the interest of business?
It is very important. However, it is difficult for me to maintain a working relationship with the Chamber when councilors are scored publically like school children with percentage grades like they were recently in the Chamber’s “Score Card.” It is even more difficult when I asked one member of the Chamber Board to appear in front of the Council to apologize, but no such apology has been made.
3. Do you have a plan or strategy for eliciting feedback from our community on issues which can be addressed by City Council?
I would suggest a formal “Public Comment Period” be established prior to the First Reading of any proposed legislation. In this way, feedback could be solicited outside of the formal adoption process and pre-empt the “last-minute slam dunk” that council is often accused of.
4. What concerns do you have with the current City of Bend budget?
Bend will always find it difficult to fund the operations of government as long as there are more & more citizens (necessary for economic & social vitality!) who expect to experience a modern city with ever-more sophisticated services (i.e. to have a community we can be proud of!).
a. How will you address the street maintenance issue?
The best way to address street maintenance is to shift this burden away from local residents (who pay for it in their property taxes) and onto tourists who visit our community and put additional wear and tear on our streets (who should pay for it in the form of a gas tax).
b. What other future challenges do you see? & How will you address those concerns/challenges?The challenge of a stressed general fund will extend well into the future as long as Bend is held to 1980’s level of taxation by the limitations by measures 5 & 50. To correct this, it takes state legislative action, which is outside of my control.
5. In regard to Economic Development, what role should the City of Bend play?
I feel that I have an important role to play as a councilor (and more importantly as a representative of Bend) because part of my job is to be an emissary to economic development beyond what Roger Lee, our EDCO executive director already does. I have met personally with a number of prospective businesses to help persuade them to re-locate to Bend. Additionally, acting within the collective body of council, I authorized funds to be used to encourage increased commercial airline service at our regional RDM airport. These are a few of the examples of how I have encouraged economic development.
6. Infrastructure is connected to economic development and the overall well-being of our community.
a. Do you have concerns with our infrastructure?
Now that we have made significant investments in our water, sewer, and transportation infrastructure under my tenure as a councilor, I am less worried than when I took office. More importantly, because of significant improvements in our forecast modeling, the City has now begun to stabilize utility rates, which restores user’s trust and limits future rate shocks to customers.
b. What is your opinion on vertical vs horizontal growth in Bend?
Bend should continue to grow vertically, especially in the Central Area (MMA) area of third street which is ripe for re-development. I don’t believe in tinkering further with downtown building heights.