Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Campaign Kickoff Party & Fundraiser

Today, I announced that my campaign will be hosting a Campaign Kickoff Party and Fundraiser.  It will be held Saturday, September 15, 2012 from 7-11pm. It will be held in the heart of downtown Canby at The Place To Be Cafe.  Light appetizers and refreshments will be served.  It's going to be a fun evening.  I am looking forward to seeing familiar faces, as well as new ones. I will be available to answer your questions and will speak to the attendees as well.

The event is open to the public and there is no charge for entry.  Guests are encouraged to extend invites to friends and family that would be interested in attending. 

Donations collected that evening will be given to the Friends of Brian Hodson.  Funds will be used for my campaign for mayor. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chamber of Commerce Endorsement

On August 22nd, the local Canby Area Chamber chose to endorse me as their candidate for Mayor.  Here is a summation of their letter:

"As a candidate for the position of Mayor of Canby, thank you for taking the time toshare your views on business with us.  We appreciate our openness in discussion of these issues.

The Canby Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has voted to endorse you in yoru candidacy for Mayor.  We believe your views parallel those of the Chamber, and look forward to continuing to work with you in this position."

I am proud of this endorsement and look forward to showing the business community my commitment to them during the campaign.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thanks, Oregonian!

Here is a link to a good, succint, balanced article regarding the Urban Renewal Agency's decision in Canby to move forward with the proposed plan to build a new library.  I was happy to contribute to the article and feel Stark outlined the outcome fairly.  I was happy to see coverage on an important issue in Canby.  Canby is often ignored in coverage of the Portand metro area and so this is refreshing to see. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Urban Renewal Passes the New Library Project: My Statement

On Wednesday, August 22, the Urban Renewal Agency board voted to move forward with the most recent plan for a new library, city hall/offices, and additional parking downtown.  As a member of this board, I was part of the meeting, heard the presentation, and listened to feedback from various citizens.  After many months of studying this plan, looking at the statistics, and strategizing sustaining this project for the long term, my vote was “no”.  Please let me be clear:  my vote was “no” to the plan presented.  I did not vote against the library. 

As an agency, we approved the funds for the library project.  But much like any undertaking of this size and impact, careful planning must take place.  Do you think every blockbuster film that has made millions of dollars was perfect with one take?  To use an old, but tried and true, cliché:  was Rome built in a day?  No plan will be 100% perfect, I understand that is a reality.  Let me outline some of the key parts of the plan that, after thoughtful and careful consideration, I had questions and concerns with.  These points are what provoked my vote of “no” and to explore addendums and improvements to the proposed project.

  1. The Vision of Downtown.  I love our town and am passionate about Canby.  I patronize the downtown businesses on a regular, weekly basis.  My family visits the library many times in a given week.  If the true purpose of urban renewal is to “relieve blight” and “stimulate economic growth”, a library alone will not do that.  What are the other plans and foresight for the rest of downtown?  Are there plans for economic stimulus incentives for new businesses?  Will the façade improvement program be revamped?  All of these issues are supportive parts of the picture to truly make urban renewal successful.  If the citizens of Canby elect me as mayor, these are some of the main questions I will address and programs I will consider to help support the evolution and success of downtown.

2.    Sustainability of the New Library.  One concern of mine is how will we pay for the operations of the library once it is built?  This last budget cycle, the city cautiously added $70,000 to the library to meet their short fall in operating costs.  There is a high probability that the city’s budget will not afford this next year or in year’s to come.  The city budget is tight.  It’s my concern that we will either have staffing issues or other departments in the city will suffer due to the staffing needs of the library.

  1. Community Input.  With previous projects of this size, we have had a more involved and planned community input.   We sought the advice of property owners, business owners, fire chiefs, and community member’s input on plans like First Avenue and the police station.  My hope was that we would have this same level of input from citizens with the library.  This was not the case.

  1. Parking and Loss of Viable Economic Real Estate.  Mr. Ellis shared with me the statistics of a parking study that showed Canby had ample parking, even with a new library added.  Why build a parking lot when we have a prime piece of real-estate that could be used for businesses to further enhance our 1st Avenue development and draw people from 99E?  Parking lots do not provide economic growth or revenue.  They don’t provide jobs.

In my opinion, it was evident at the meeting that everyone had a passion for our community and the library.  I do not disagree that a library, of all the public buildings, can help with economic development.  I am a library fan!  My family are fans of the library.  If you asked my daughter, “Should we build a new library, sweetie?”, her immediate answer would, of course, be “yes”.  That is the emotional side of the debate.  We cannot forget the financial and execution side of the debate either.  Although citizens’ taxes will not be affected by this project, it is taxpayer money that we are spending. 

Furthermore, I had concerns with the "cart being before the horse" in this plan.  We haven't secured all the land that the proposed library will be built on; that lands still belongs to Canby Utility.  This is just one example of possibly not being as prepared as we can be to make sure this is the best project it can be.  I would hate to see things unravel due to technicalities.

Moving forward, I support what is going to be a beneficial and integral library in our downtown community in Canby.  As mayor, it would be my intent that we build the best library that we can and the rest of downtown is not left behind.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Campaign 2012 Issues: Railroad Quiet Zones

Another issue that is being debated by the City Council and Urban Renewal Agency is the instigation of quiet zones at specified railroad crossing here in Canby.  A quiet zone is defined as railroad grade crossing at which trains are prohibited from sounding their horns so that the noise level is reduced as trains move through a community.  Under the city’s plan, according to the Canby Herald, quiet zone crossings would be installed at Elm, Grant, and Ivy. 

I have several issues and concerns with instituting such a policy.  First of all, in my tenure as city council, only once has someone come before the city council to complain about the noise pollution of the railroad. 

Secondly, I put the ultimate judge of safety in the hands of Union Pacific Railroad, who owns the lands our trains operate on through town.  In their opinion, Union Pacific believes “quiet zones compromise the safety of railroad employees, customers, and the general public.”  The Federal Railroad Administration rule states that communities that wish to implement such a program must equip proposed crossings with adequate safety measures to overcome the decrease in safety created by silencing the train horns.  Why should we install anything that from the onset produces a decrease in safety?

Furthermore, city staff concur that the money allotted for this program was a “place holder” in the budget, in case we get to a point where we can move forward with it.  When we take a closer look at the up front costs, as well as the maintenance, it gets expensive.

  • $500,00 for new gate systems
  • $400,000 for active warning system
  • $15,000 for Basic Inter-Connect
  • $10,000 for annual maintenance
The city would be responsible for covering 100% of these costs. Again, according to the Federal Railroad Administration, evidence has shown an increase in accidents when horns are not used.In my honest and best judgment, I cannot endorse moving forward with the quiet zone plan.  Our city’s budget is tight.  I see this as an overextension of our Urban Renewal funds.  I want to see safety as the prime reason for keeping the current system we have in place.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Passionate About Canby

I am passionate and enthusiastic about the town I live in:  Canby, Oregon.  Can you say that about your town?  I moved here 8 years ago with my family.  I didn't know much about Canby at that time, except that it was a small, tight knit community with a strong agricultural base and a great county fair.

I work for Starbucks Coffee Company.  I soon took the healm of the local Starbucks store here in town.  Management in a fast-paced coffee shop has it's challenges, but it is also a great way to see your community one-one-one.  I slowly got to know my customer's, their backgrounds, and why they worked or lived in Canby.

Starbucks believes in strong community ties and support.  It was because of this that I initially got involved with the local Chamber of Commerce.  That soon led to a position on the board, a vice president position on the board, and ultimately president, the position I hold today.  I have become even more attune and in touch with the business community because of this position.  I have come to have a keener understanding of what it means to "buy local" and support your neighbor.  It is truly evident in this community. 

Political aspirations have always been that pie-in-the-sky dream for me, that "maybe someday" goal.  As I become more and more involved with businesses in the community and as I continued to build ties with friends in the community, the opportunity arose to run for city council.  It seemed a natural fit for me.  I had a good understanding of the town and what was truly important to the community; I knew I would maintain my integrity and focus in the position; I would also learn more about the political animal that is local city government. 

I was appointed to the position of City Councilor in the Fall of 2009.  I ran for re-election and won in the Fall of 2010.  I have been honored and blessed to be able to serve as a councilor in this town.  My decisions as councilor are always made honestly and with the city's best interest at heart.  My decisions are based on what I feel are the best choices and directions for the city, tax payer money, and the livability of the community. 

As I turn to running for mayor, I am guided by these same principles:  community passion, fiscal attentiveness, and having an "open book" attitude when it comes to the issues of the city.

I heart Canby.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Campaign 2012 Issues: Urban Renewal District

The Issues:  Urban Renewal District
Many ask what is an Urban Renewal District?  What does it do?  This is a major topic this election season at the City, County, and State level.  Much of the discussion revolves on how Urban Renewal Agencies are to use the money it collects – for business attracting enhancements, city infrastructure, public buildings.  It is the City Council’s job to determine which projects and programs the funds should be used for Canby’s Urban Renewal District was created in November of 1999 and it was defined then as:
“The Urban Renewal Area is a single geographic area with a single contiguous boundary in which a variety of activities and projects are contemplated to eliminate blight and the causes of blight and intended to create an environment in which the private sector may develop uses compatible with the purposes of this plan.” (http://www.ci.canby.or.us/URD/documents/UR_Plan_Amendments2009.pdf) (pg4)
Our “District” located on page 18 of our Urban Renewal Plan (http://www.ci.canby.or.us/URD/documents/UR_ReportOnPlan1999.pdf)  is made up of the Canby Pioneer Industrial Park (CPIP), continuing along 99E and widening around downtown on both sides of 99E, and finishing at Berg Parkway. 
So what makes this a delicate topic as well as decision is that the money comes from Tax Incremental Financing.  This means property values were frozen at 1999 values and as those values increase, the incremental amount of tax money comes from local government entities.  So, the increased taxes that would go to schools, community colleges, education service districts (4H Extension), cities, counties, and fire districts go to the Urban Renewal District. ( http://cms.oregon.gov/dor/PTD/docs/504-623.pdf)
Initially the projects have been used in the CPIP to build the infrastructure of Canby – roads, sewer, water lines, etc., to draw new business to Canby.  Then, the projects have been moved around the district:  2nd Ave, City Parking lot at the end of 2nd,  and other street improvements.  We have used Urban Renewal funds for façade improvements, administrative costs, and most recently the 1st Ave redevelopment.  Some of the anticipated projects are:  finishing Sequoia Parkway to connect to SE 13th Ave; extending Berg Parkway to NE 3rd Ave; improvements to Wait and Community Parks; building a new library; new city hall; and improvements to 99E.
As Mayor, I would like to see a revamping of the façade program, so that buildings can keep up with improvements.  Also, to look at additional programs to spur economic investment and sustainable jobs for Canby.  In regards to URD funds, I think it is also important to see the entire scope in terms of funding these programs.  What parts of projects are not covered by URD funds?   How will a given project sustain itself financially once it is complete? How are other programs, like schools and the fire department, being impacted by the council’s decision with URD funds?
The URD needs your voice.  It is your Councilors and Mayor that dictate these funds, and your input is important.  The next council meeting where we will be making decisions regarding URD funds is Wednesday, August 22 at 6pm at Council Chambers.  Further discussion and decision making will be conducted regarding improvements to and/or a new library.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Vision As Mayor

I love Canby.  My family chose Canby for its livability, schools, and hometown feel.  I am dedicated to the cause of Canby by listening to the people.

Canby is first and foremost a community centered around it's people.  Your voice needs to be heard.  In my day-to-day role as mayor and in my decision making as mayor, I will heed that voice.

Canby is experiencing some exciting plans and growth for it's future.

--Additions to our Industrial Park
--Attraction of new businesses
--Improvements to our library
--Maintaining our livability and small town appeal

I am committed to maintaining our small town focus, while remaining fiscally responsible with the city's dollars.  Most importantly, I am enthusiastic and passionate about Canby and the road ahead.

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