JOHN L. COOK: Mayor's Corner 2018
Well, the time has come to end my term as Mayor. The last six years have gone by fast and this is my last Mayors Corner.
I would like to congratulate Jason Snider on his election to Mayor, John Goodhouse on his re-election and Liz Newton on her election to the council for the next four years. I would also like to thank Marc Woodard for his service to the council the last eight years. The city is a better place from his knowledge and passion in recreation services.
It is hard to say goodbye, so I will just say “farewell until we meet again”. There are too many people to thank and stay close to my allotted space, but here is a short list:
First, to all the citizens and businesses of Tigard who put their trust in me over the last two elections; to the current and past Tigard city councilors; the mayors and other electeds in Washington County, the metro region, the State of Oregon and even across the U.S.; the city staff who helped me become the knowledgeable person I am on all the issues that affect our city; all City of Tigard volunteers on our boards and commissions; Marty Wine for being an amazing city manager; the best executive assistant Joanne Bengtson for keeping me straight and in the right place every day; and mostly for my wonderful wife Terri and my family for allowing me to spend so much time away from them over the last six years.
For all of you who attended my Fireside Chats each month, I appreciate your candor and opinions and willingness to share with others. To the mayors of Oregon for electing me as their president for 2018 and giving me the annual Leadership Award this year. The League of Oregon Cities for your vision and giving me the James C. Richards Memorial Award for statewide leadership.
I have met so many amazing mayors, and I love each one of you for helping me along the way, but Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. of Charleston, SC who served 10 terms starting in 1975 through 2015 was the most impactful. I was able to meet him in Dallas, TX in 2014. It is hard to say who the greatest mayors ever are, but he has clearly made the biggest impact on the most mayors. He is a past-president of US Conference of Mayors and founder of Mayors Institute on City Design which has trained over 1,000 mayors – including me, one of the fortunate leaders who was invited to attend.
Mayor Riley told a story about the first time he met Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago, “Mayors have an invincible mantel on our shoulders. I have the responsibility for the safety, wellbeing, hope, optimism and success of every citizen in our city. Size didn’t matter, I was a mayor.” He went on to say, “We have the responsibility to be as creative as possible, to work with our citizens to develop visions.” And, “We have the opportunity to give our citizens optimism and hope, and for them to feel that we care for each and every one of them.”
The main thing is not to get reelected in political office, but the core duty is to do the very best you can, and always do what you think is right!
My December quote of the month is, “A wise person said that being alive gives us the opportunity to do two things every day; be nice to people, and leave our world a better place.”
In my elder years, if anyone ever asks what I accomplished in my lifetime, I will be able to say, “Once I was a Mayor, and I thank God every day.”
Thank you to everyone who completed last month’s Mayor’s Challenge to walk or bike to an October event. I have another simple, easy-to-accomplish challenge for you in November. Vote!
With vote-by-mail, our state has one of the most convenient voting systems in the country. You will find everything you need to know about voting on the Oregon Secretary of State’s webpage at https://sos.oregon.gov/voting-elections/.
I want to see a record turnout from Tigard voters this Election Day! Your completed ballot can be dropped off until 8 p.m. on November 6th in the county ballot box located in the parking lot at Tigard City Hall.
I am often told by people that they would like to be more involved but they don’t know how. I understand that we live busy lives and taking the time to track down volunteer opportunities can be time-consuming. With this in mind, the November edition of Cityscape is focused on how you can make a difference in the Tigard community. You will read about incredible local non-profits that need your help for the holiday season and beyond.
We also need community members to get involved with the city. Here are three opportunities for you to consider.
1) Serve on a Board and Committee: I am happy to announce that our new online application makes it easier than ever to apply. We are currently looking for Audit, Budget Committee and Affordable Housing committee members as well as youth volunteers to serve on the Youth Advisory Council.
2) Volunteer at the Library: I am grateful for the 200+ volunteers who make the library a better place by shelving books and helping patrons. You will be impressed at how convenient it is to volunteer at the library. Find out for yourself by signing up for the New Volunteer Orientation happening November 15 at 6 p.m. Learn more at www.tigard-or.gov/volunteer_opportunities.php or call Katie Nelson at 503-718-2516.
3) Your Tigard: In the span of a few months, more than 3,100 people visited the city’s online engagement site. Their input on key projects has helped us work better, smarter and stronger. You can give your input 24/7 from your office or your living room. As always, I encourage you to reach out to me about all things Tigard – what are your concerns? What are we doing well? What could we improve? Send me an email at MayorCook@tigard-or.gov or tweet @TigardMayor with your suggestions.
I hope you’ll stop by my next Fireside Chat at Symposium Coffee on Main Street in downtown Tigard on Thursday, November 1 at 6:30 p.m.
My November quote of the month is by Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
October in Tigard is beautiful! Along with the cooler temperatures and amazing fall colors comes a variety of events aimed at helping residents get outside and be active. I challenge you to walk, bike, or stroll to at least one of these great opportunities.
Walk & Bike to School Day – October 10
Last year, Portland Timbers great, Jack Jewsbury, surprised children and parents by walking with them to Mary Woodard Elementary. That will be tough to beat this year, but I know more surprises are planned this year. A special thanks to Metro for funding our efforts to raise awareness about pedestrian safety and the importance of physical activity.
Please remember to be alert and pay attention when driving near schools during events like Walk and Bike to School Day, and every other day of the school year - ‘20 is Plenty.’
Tigard Walks! – October 20
From the Festival of Balloons to the July 4th celebration, and the Downtown Street Fair - the City of Tigard provides great community events year-round. While you probably know about, and have attended some these fun activities, I wonder if you’ve heard about the great program, Tigard Walks!
Hosted by the city, Tigard Walks! is a series of monthly community walks to explore different areas of the city and some of our beautiful parks and trails. I am amazed by the cross-section of people that show up each month to exercise and meet fellow community members. I encourage you to check out this great activity.
Dog Halloween Costume Contest – October 27
Organized by the Tigard Dog Park Committee, this annual event is held at Potso Dog Park. Dog lovers and their canine companions dress up in costume and compete for prizes and laughs in front of a celebrity panel of judges.
Trick or Treat on Main Street – October 31
Come to Main Street this Halloween and join fellow parents, kids and pets for some tricks and treats. Thanks to the Tigard Downtown Alliance, Main Street has become a popular, destination for the community. Most of the downtown businesses participate in the family-friendly event and placing a pumpkin in their window to invite people in.
Share Your Story – Throughout October
I remember driving along the Tigard Street Trail a few years ago and seeing overgrown grass and remnants of a rail line. This is no longer the case. The revamped trail has become a boulevard for walkers and bikers, and we are not done with improvements. I am excited to share that a federal grant will allow us to put a ‘Tigard touch’ on the trail. But we need your help. If you haven’t already, register on our new online tool, Engage Tigard and take a few minutes to share your stories of growing up and living in Tigard.
My term as mayor ends in early January 2019. In the remaining “Mayor’s Corner” columns, I want to cover the topics that you want to hear about. Send me an email at MayorCook@tigard-or.gov or tweet @TigardMayor with your suggestions.
I hope you’ll stop by my next Fireside Chat at Symposium Coffee on Main Street in downtown Tigard on Thursday, October 4th at 6:30 pm. I’d love to hear from you.
My October quote of the month is by Lou Holtz, “I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care.”
From picnics in the park with music and movies, to ukulele lessons at the library – it has been a terrific summer in Tigard. It’s also been one of the city’s busiest.
Our maintenance crews have been taking advantage of the sunny weather to improve our roads and test water quality, planning and restoring trails, keeping communities safe and talking with partners about how we want to grow as a region.
I am proud to work with a passionate group of people that work hard to keep our city running smoothly and efficiently.
As we enter the fall season, you will see some changes in city operations. Reductions have been made to General Fund programs and services that reflect the funding priorities of taxpayers.
The Tigard-Tualatin School District will have two instead of four police resource officers serving students and parents. Library programs and book purchases have been reduced and community events such as the Easter Egg Hunt and Family Fest events might be canceled.
It is hard to see these changes take place, but I am committed to being accountable to the budget set by Tigard residents. I am also committed to finding ways to keep the important projects, already underway, moving forward and to realizing our strategic vision of becoming “the most walkable community in the Pacific Northwest where people of all ages and abilities enjoy healthy and interconnected lives.”
Here are some of the important projects that are happening with the help of innovative funding resources:
- Fanno Creek Remeander
Jointly funded by Clean Water Services, the city’s Parks and Capital Fund and the Parks and Recreation Fee. The project will reduce erosion, improve water quality and increase bike and pedestrian safety.
- Slurry Seal Application
The Street Maintenance Fee, paid through your utility bill, funds important projects like this summer’s slurry seal application. This is an affordable and effective way to improve and extend the life of city streets that are showing signs of wear and tear from the weather and traffic.
- Wall Street Improvement Project
Funded through federal, regional, and state grants, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici attended the ceremonial groundbreaking. The project will improve streets and sidewalks and update underground utilities paving the way for new development, job growth and access to new development opportunities.
The one thing that won’t change in Tigard is the need for your input. It is essential for making decisions about the city’s programs and services. Add your voice to the conversation by registering for our new engagement tool, https://www.engage.tigard-or.gov/.
My next Fireside Chat is on Thursday, Sept. 6, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Symposium Coffee on Main Street. I hope to see you there.
My September quote of the month is by Marvin Phillips, “The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.”
What a summer so far — the Balloon Festival, Taste of Tigard, Old Fashioned Fourth of July and Middle of Millen Drive Independence Day Parade! Thanks to all of the hardworking community members who volunteered at these fantastic events.
We also kicked off a new fiscal year on July 1. I commend the Budget Committee and City Council members for adopting a fiscally responsible 2018-2019 budget. Our work is not done. We have a responsibility to explain how you will be impacted by the 9.4 percent budget reductions, which became necessary after the proposed local option levy did not pass.
In the spirit of the city’s new “Why Wednesday’” feature, I want to address a few of the questions received about the city’s budget challenges.
Why does the city continue to offer free community events?
Tigard’s Parks and Recreation program provides affordable opportunities for people to get out and enjoy fun, healthy activities in the city’s beautiful parks and open spaces. Free events like Movies in the Park and the upcoming concert at Cook Park, offer community members safe and fun activities to connect with each other in the places we all value.
Budget constraints required that we reduce the number of events and staff supporting Parks and Recreation this year, and it is proposed that the entire program be eliminated in the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2019.
Until that time, we are happy to be able to offer the community opportunities to enjoy movies, music and other fun activities with the limited programming remaining this year. For more information about upcoming community events visit Tigard Parks and Recreation.
Why is the city hiring after reducing the budget?
We are committed to making fiscally sound decisions about the city’s programs, services and staff, while maintaining the essential services that keep our community safe and healthy. The reduced General Fund budget means the city’s leadership team must carefully consider decisions about when to fill vacancies.
Some of the positions are funded through other resources. For example, a utility worker in our Water Division is paid through the city’s Water Fund, not General Fund.
Why did the city go ahead with slurry seal application when we are cutting school resource officers?
Ensuring our roads are safe and accessible for people to travel and providing resources to our schools to protect students are both priorities for the city, but rely on different funding sources.
Slurry sealing, which is an affordable method for maintaining residential streets that tend to deteriorate due to weather conditions that wear down the pavement over time, is funded through the street maintenance fee that appears on your monthly utility bill.
Tigard Police school resource officers are funded through the city’s General Fund, which was reduced when the levy failed to pass.
Again, it is important that residents share their ideas and provide feedback on the important decisions made about the city’s resources and funding.
I hope you will share your questions and concerns about the city’s budget through our new “Why Wednesday” feature, or through other city events and public forums.
My next Fireside Chat is on Thursday, Aug. 2, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Symposium Coffee on Main Street. I hope to see you there.
My August quote of the month is by Thomas Huxley, “Economy does not lie in sparing money, but in spending it wisely.”
Independence Day: Brought to Us by People Working Together
This July, as we celebrate our country’s independence, it’s important to remember that America was founded as an experiment. At the time, the idea of creating a society governed by ordinary citizens was audacious … and an act of treason. We fought a war for this experiment; people lost their homes, their loved ones and their lives protecting and defending the ideals of equality, liberty, justice and opportunity for all.
Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, later wrote, "The flames kindled on the 4th of July, 1776, have spread across too much of the globe to be extinguished.” Sadly, these days we are seeing some of those flames grow dim. American voter turnout ranks near the bottom among democratic nations — in general, fewer than half of our citizens actually take advantage of their right to vote.
Civic engagement has never been easy. In the period leading up to the American Revolutionary War, about 20 percent of the colonists remained loyal to the British monarchy, and public debates about allegiance, freedom and taxes were common. After the war there was even more public discourse about what form the new government should take. People got involved.
It may not be easy, but civic engagement isn’t that hard, either. It can be as simple as knocking on your neighbor’s door and introducing yourself or attending a City Council meeting; for greater involvement, you could volunteer for one of Tigard’s boards or committees, which are advisory to the council and assist in forming policy and making law. You could even run for office.
When citizens are involved and engaged, their lives and communities are improved and enriched.
July is a time for family gatherings and outings. Whether it is your family reunion, a backyard barbecue, a neighborhood picnic or parade, I hope these bring you joy and memories that will last a lifetime. Speaking of parades, if your neighborhood doesn’t have one, come down to Millen Drive near Tigard High School for a 4 p.m. start.
If you don’t have plans for the Fourth, come on down to Tigard High School for the “Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration.” It is a family event featuring fireworks, live music, kids’ games, police and fire vehicles and a concession stand offering light snacks for sale. Gates open at 6 p.m. with fireworks at dusk.
One other way to meet new people and get more involved in the Tigard community is to come to my next Fireside Chat, which will be held on Thursday, July 5, at Symposium Coffee (12345 SW Main St.), from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
My quote of the month for July is by George Bernard Shaw, “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”
Leadership Tigard Inspires Rising Leaders
In May I had the opportunity to speak at the graduation ceremony for Leadership Tigard, the Tigard Chamber of Commerce’s nine-month program designed to inspire/create rising leaders in our community. I love this program…and particularly attending the graduation, where the class members talk about what they learned and what’s ahead.
Some of the best advice I ever received was that if you want to succeed and get ahead in life, the first step is showing up. The members of Leadership Tigard don’t just show up, they step up and start working on projects to help improve our community right away. So congratulations to all who participated in Leadership Tigard 2018, and if you’re interested in being part of Leadership Tigard, check out the Tigard Chamber’s website for information on next year’s class.
And now we’re into June, with kids out of school and the promise of sunshine and warm weather. Better weather means more folks of all ages will be out and about in our parks and on our trails — so please be courteous and drive extra cautiously during this time.
Summertime weather conditions are also ideal for paving and slurry sealing our roads to repair damage and help preserve and prolong their useful life. While the city tries to minimize the impact of this work on citizens and businesses, some disruption is inevitable. If you live or work along these routes, you will be notified about the work in advance and, on the day work is scheduled, you’ll be asked to clear vehicles and other objects from the street. Drivers will also be advised to use alternate routes while paving work is in progress.
My next Fireside Chat will be on Thursday, June 14, at Symposium Coffee (12345 SW Main St.). I hope you’ll stop by to say hello and let me know what’s on your mind!
My June quote of the month is by Brian Tracy, “Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily, even if you had no title or position.”
Balancing the Budget to Fund our Future
Last December the city started putting together its budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2018. In April we began our Budget Committee meetings, which are all open to the public. The Budget Committee is responsible for reviewing and deliberating on the proposed budget.
In May, after three more public meetings, the Budget Committee will send an approved budget to City Council for adoption. The end result is a budget that will guide our decisions for the coming fiscal year, and which is available for anyone to review on both our website and in hardcopy at our library and City Hall.
- As you probably know, property taxes are the primary revenue source for the General Fund, which funds our police department, parks and recreation, library services, and city administration services. Some people are surprised to learn that Tigard collects roughly $15.4 million annually in property taxes for these operations. For perspective, it costs approximately $17.3 million each year to run our police department.
I encourage you to learn more about how our budget is developed, and to participate in the process. There are still three Budget Committee meetings you can attend—May 7, May 21 and May 29 (if needed). All meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. and are held in the in the Public Works Auditorium, 8777 SW Burnham St., Tigard.
If you have questions or comments about Tigard’s budget—or any other topic—I will be happy to talk with you at one of my upcoming Fireside Chats at Symposium Coffee (12345 SW Main St., Tigard). There will be one on May 3 and another on June 7, both will start at 6:30 p.m. and go to 8:30 p.m.
My quote of the month for May is “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”—George Bernard Shaw
After a cold, wet and rather dreary winter, I, for one, am grateful that spring is finally here—our community has so much to celebrate!
This month the Tigard Public Library will honor its 250+ volunteers at the annual Volunteer Recognition Event on April 22. This event is only open to volunteers, but you can show your appreciation for their work when you see them throughout the library. You’ll find volunteers shelving returned books, pulling patron requests, greeting visitors at our welcome desk and helping patrons who need one-on-one tech support. (Fun Fact: Volunteers donate 16,000+ hours to the Tigard Public Library every year!)
In May we’ll have Public Works Day. While this event is ostensibly for kids, I know there are a number of adults who appreciate the great work our Public Works crews do to keep our streets safe during winter weather events, maintain our parks and trails and much more. I hope you’ll all come out to the Tigard Public Library parking lot on Saturday, May 19, and take the opportunity to say hello to our crew members… and maybe even sit in a backhoe.
In June it’s time for seconds! We’ll have the second Tigard Police Department Open House, with opportunities to meet Chief Kathy McAlpine and many of our officers and learn about their important work throughout our community—in schools, on our streets, in partnership with other law enforcement agencies; see equipment displays and demonstrations, and tour our facilities. That same day, a little further down SW Burnham Street, we’ll also have our second Taste of Tigard, which celebrates our local restaurants and food entrepreneurs and Tigard’s continuing economic development efforts.
And throughout the summer our Recreation Program is offering a variety of camps for younger Tigardians. There are sports and fitness activities, nature and outdoor adventures, and many classes focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) for all age levels.
These classes and programs are all great, but what makes our recreation programs even better is that we have scholarships available to help those in need who want to participate—because play is for everyone. These scholarships can cover up to 75 percent of a program’s cost and are available throughout the year. You can learn more about scholarships, as well as all our classes, programs and summer camps, at: www.tigard-or.gov/recreation.
My next Fireside Chat will be on Thursday, April 5, at Symposium Coffee (12345 SW Main Street, Tigard). If you have questions, comments or suggestions, I will be happy to talk with you and make sure you get the answers.
My quote of the month is by Winston Churchill, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
In February the Tigard City Council voted to place an operating and capital levy on the May 2018 ballot. A local option levy is a tool local governments may use to ask voters to increase funding for general purposes such as public safety, parks maintenance or library services; local option levies are temporary and can be requested for a maximum of five years at a time.
Council has been considering this matter for the past year. Last June they formed a citizen-lead Levy and Bond Advisory Task Force to take an in-depth look at the city’s financial situation, and in December the 15 members of that task force unanimously recommended that council pursue a local option levy. If passed the levy funds would be used to:
- Reduce police emergency response times;
- Maintain current staffing levels involved in community policing and crime prevention;
- Provide maintenance for playgrounds, sports fields and trails;
- Maintain current program schedules at the Library.
In addition, accountability of funds would be provided through annual performance and efficiency audits and an oversight committee.
There is specific information on the levy measure, including how much, what the funds would go toward if the levy passes and what would happen if the levy does not pass. Visit our website: www.tigard-or.gov/tigard_levy.
My next two Fireside Chats will be on March 1 and April 5 at Symposium Coffee (12345 SW Main Street, Tigard). If you have questions or comments about the levy—or any other topic—I will be happy to talk with you and make sure you get the answers.
My quote of the month comes from former Supreme Court Chief Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., “We must meet the challenge rather than wish it were not before us.”
I first started addressing the fact that our City Council would be looking at the possibility of a local option levy to generate more revenue for the city’s General Fund last April. As you know, our General Fund supports core services like the Tigard Police Department, parks maintenance work, recreation programs and the Tigard Public Library.
Over the past 10 months our staff and elected officials have worked hard to help people from throughout the city understand our budgeting processes and the challenges we’re facing. To get input about what’s important to you we’ve conducted surveys; held council outreach events, public meetings, informal gatherings like ice cream socials and Budgets & Brews; and sought input from the citizen-led Levy and Bond Advisory Task Force. In December 2017, the 17 members of that task force unanimously recommended that the council refer a levy that would bolster Tigard's General Fund revenues.
Now we’re down to the wire. On Feb. 6, the City Council will hear proposals from the city manager about both the amount of the proposed levy and what could/should be included in it. Later in the month the council will decide about referring a levy so Tigard residents can vote on what kind of future they want for their city. These are important issues that directly affect every person living in Tigard. Whether you own a home or business, or rent, these meetings will shape the quality of life we have here for at least the next five years, so I encourage you to attend.
Also, I invite you to come to my upcoming State of the City address, Tigard On!, which will be held at the Broadway Rose Theatre (12850 SW Grant Ave.) on Wednesday, Feb. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are free but seating is limited, so don’t throw away your shot to hear Tigard High School’s Choralation (and me!) perform in this Hamilton-themed event. You can register for tickets here.
My February quote of the month is by George Pataki, “This budget reflects a choice—not an easy choice, but the right choice. And when you think about it, the only choice. The choice to take the responsible, prudent path to fiscal stability, economic growth and opportunity.”
I love how Tigard is a community that stands together, and, as I reflect on the past year, I realize how much we have accomplished by listening and working together.
- After gathering community input and conducting a nationwide search we brought on our new Police Chief, Kathy McAlpine, who was a major driver behind one of our most successful community events—the Tigard Police Department Open House.
- Thanks to partnerships with schools, parents and teachers, we had more than 1,500 students participate in our grant-funded Safe Routes to School programs to help make walking and biking to schools easier, safer and more fun.
- Working with the Tigard Chamber Leadership Tigard Class of 2017 and Washington County Project Homeless Connect, we helped bring basic services to those in need through a Project Homeless Connect event in Tigard.
- In November, our City Council passed a Statement of Unity Resolution proclaiming Tigard as a welcoming community.
These are just a few examples of how well partnerships with the public and other agencies have helped Tigard. In 2017 we also focused on increasing engagement with residents through a number of events, including:
- A Community Conversation on Affordable Housing,
- Tigard Street Heritage Trail visioning,
- Council Outreach events and Mayor Fireside Chats,
- Latino Festival and Hispanic Open House,
- Budget and Brews events to help residents learn more about Tigard’s budget, and
- Neighborhood Ice Cream Socials.
Looking to 2018, we have a lot of important work ahead. We’re putting together our budget and focusing on what we need to do to ensure we maintain our core services and provide a safe community with a sound future. As I’ve said, this will take a lot of thought, effort and input from everyone—so please be a part of this conversation. Attend a Council meeting, email the Council at CouncilMail@tigard-or.gov or attend one of my upcoming Fireside Chats. Public participation is vital to making Tigard the best community for everyone.
My next Fireside Chat is on Jan. 4, at Symposium Coffee, at 6:30 p.m. In February you are all invited to Tigard On!, my annual State of the City event, which will be held on Feb. 7, at 6 p.m., at the Broadway Rose Theater. Watch our website for details.
My January quote is by Idowu Koyenikan, “There is immense power when a group of people with similar interests gets together to work toward the same goals.” As we enter the New Year, I look forward to working with (and for) all of you!