(Oregonian (Portland, OR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 20--Washington County commissioner candidates Andy Duyck, Allen Amabisca, Elizabeth Furse and Bob Terry talked about a variety of topics during a candidate forum Wednesday at the Hillsboro Main Library.
Duyck, the county chairman, is running against Amabisca, a retired Intel analyst and Helvetia activist.
Terry, who represents District 4 in the western part of the county, is being challenged by former Congresswoman Furse.
Election will be May 20 (See who else is running in Washington County).
About 100 people attended Wednesday's event (See live coverage here). Below are some of the candidates' most interesting statements, grouped by topics.
On Washington County's future:
Duyck sees the county's future in the context of a "vibrant economic development," which would provide revenues for schools and supplement funds for social services such as mental health.
"We need to restrain ourselves from trying to be all things to all people because that's the quickest way to debt," Duyck said.
Furse: "When I came to Washington County, I loved the fact that you can be in a city and then right away be in the country. And that's what I want to preserve (...) Once land is paved over, you can't farm it."
Terry: "We spend 25 percent of our transportation dollars now in Washington County on sidewalks and cycle tracks. I strongly support the MAX." He said roads need to be wide enough so that bike lanes can be separated from driving lanes.
Amabisca said the county needs to encourage small businesses and streamline the permit process. "What we want is a diversity so we're not at risk of individual industries. There's nothing worse than having a company stumble and, in our current situation, take out too many jobs."
On diversity in economic development:
Terry said 85 percent of the county land is agricultural, yet most of the population lives in urban areas. "You have a balancing act between agriculture and urban areas," he said. Terry said he supports state marketing programs for agriculture and works with cities to promote jobs.
Amabisca said the county should try to get urban commuters off of the roads so that the agricultural industry can move its equipment and products more easily. "We would love to have the next equivalent of Tillamook cheese factory working out here, a new company that's grown."
Duyck: "We expect a doubling of the population (in the next 50 years), but yet what we identified as urban reserves only accounted for an 11 percent increase in the urban growth boundary. It means much higher density. It means than in about 15 to 20 years, there will be no new single-family homes being built in this region (...) There are some people that don't want you to have a choice, I think that's what this election is really all about."
Furse: "Governor McCall said we have to be very careful not to allow short-term gains to end up in urban sprawl (...) It was not the people in Helvetia who made this difference (in the reversal of Washington County's designation of rural reserves), but the Oregon Court of Appeals."
On community involvement and transparent decision-making:
Terry said the county had four years of open houses prior to setting the urban and rural reserves. "Some people are saying we had made decisions before even receiving public input. That is absolutely not true."
Amabisca said the county needs more community involvement throughout the transportation planning process.
Duyck: "I think often times when we don't like the decision, we say there's backroom deals being made. What we're referring to is that people still talk even though they're not on camera. Surprise, surprise! Yes, we talk to each other. Is that a backroom deal?"
Furse said Multnomah County and Clackamas County had citizen commissions involved in the land-reserves planning.
On environment and public health:
Furse: "It makes me unhappy when I hear businesses get a bad rap when there was no law and no agency to correct that. We can't expect business to think ahead and say, 'What I'm doing may be not right.' We have to pass laws."
Terry: "We don't need more laws. We just need to enforce the laws that are on the books. Every time you create a new law or a new ordinance, it takes away from your freedom."
Amabisca said the county could give the airport economic incentives to switch to unleaded fuel.
Duyck: "Aviation fuel concerns I believe are more a red herring than anything else. The levels of lead for aviation fuel are minuscule. Aircraft can't just switch to unleaded fuel."
"Intel did a marvelous job in taking ownership (of the fluoride crisis) and dealing with the problem," Duyck said.
On Gain Share:
Terry said if the county didn't have the Strategic Investment Program, companies wouldn't want to be based here. "These jobs in the high tech are what carried us through the recession as a county."
Amabisca said he is in favor of Gain Share and agreed with Terry that the Strategic Investment Program is convincing companies to expand in the county.
Duyck: "Intel gets no break that you don't get. The break is only on the personal property, the equipment (as opposed to land and buildings)." He said Gain Share funds should not be invested in programs because there's no certainty the Legislature will continue the tax-sharing program.
Furse: "I'm seeing that Gain Share is being treated like a windfall." She said the funds should be used for services for veterans, families and for building sidewalks, not for "super-new programs."
On the county extending a 20 percent discount on the Transportation Development Tax:
Duyck: "The reason we extended the 20 percent is because we intend to fully phase it in in September, and it puts it after the construction season."
Terry said the board extended the discount to help things move along while the commissioners could rethink how the tax is handled (have developers pay it over a period of time instead of upfront, like it is now, for example).
Amabisca: "We're not in a downturn anymore. We have a good economy. We need to be collecting that tax and getting that infrastructure back in shape."
Furse referred to an Oregonian editorial that questioned the board's extension of the discount in the context of a recovering economy.
On campaign contributions:
Terry said he didn't get a large sum of money from casinos, referring to a $10,000 donation Furse has received from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. He said he'll probably receive a contribution from a group of business owners.
Amabisca said campaign contributions need to be transparent so that they don't affect the public's trust in a candidate.
Duyck: "Every one of us at some time in our career has received a fairly large contribution." He referred to a $37,600 donation he received from a political action committee focused on development, but he said he's also received contributions from agricultural groups and farmers.
Furse said she is very proud to have received a contribution from tribal nations.
-- Simina Mistreanu
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