Profile: Eric Zimmerman
Tigard’s New Assistant City Manager shares thoughts on the community and the road ahead.
Q: You’ve been with the city for three months. What stands out for you now that you have gotten to know the community and the people who serve it? Do any stories come to mind?
There’s a real sense of pride in those who live here and work here—and a really hyper-local feel for a city that’s sitting just outside of Portland. It has its own culture, and that’s really welcoming to me. I sat in Peer Court two weeks ago and watched teens from our neighborhoods and city deliberate on one of their own who made a mistake, instead of going through the judicial system. I saw a whole group of teens participating in that, with our police department and our judge. It tells me Tigard is more than just a suburb of Portland. It’s a close community.
Q: As someone whose job is to help the city plan for the future, what will be the biggest issue we will face in the next three to five years?
The biggest thing on my mind like any place where you have competing resources is what are residents going to demand from a city that’s growing, and how will we be able to meet those demands? If we don’t start making some changes now, there are going to be things that have to give, things we will need to do differently to meet the needs of the public. Citizens of Tigard are demanding more with parks and recreation and improved streets, and we owe it to deliver on those expectations.
Q: What opportunities do you see for Tigard going forward? What about our challenges?
There is a lot of opportunity to reimagine some areas of Tigard, like the Triangle, that may be stagnant. With urban renewal and investment, how do we make sure those neighborhoods are as vital as possible? The challenge is to make sure we have a seat at the table deciding how our districts and neighborhoods evolve within Tigard’s way of life.
With new economic development, how do we put the stamp of the “Tigard way of life” on new development in the city? That’s really challenging for people who have initiatives already filling their plate. We also have a police force that has not grown with the size of the city. As our city expands to the west, that challenges our police to be everywhere they need to be for our citizens.
Q: In surveys we conducted of residents in late 2016 and early 2017, we learned they are very satisfied with city services and believe they get good value for their money. We also found many residents are not aware of the fiscal challenges we have to address looking ahead. What would you like our residents to know?
I would like our residents to know Tigard has for nearly a decade done more with less. We refined the kind of work we do during the Great Recession. The city took cuts like businesses to right size. Without a change to how we generate revenue, there are going to be things that compete for our time and services. What that really means is we’re at risk of having to provide services at lower quality or eliminating them altogether if we don’t fix our revenues-and-expenses pictures. It can’t all be achieved through cuts alone. Some of it will have to be achieved through new revenue.
Q: What’s your favorite walk in Tigard? What about your favorite place to shop?
My favorite walk in Tigard so far has been the small paths to the senior center and along the Fanno Creek Trail. I also really enjoyed the storm water canyons around Bull Mountain, too.
I probably go to H Mart more than anywhere else. It’s my favorite grocery store.
Q: Final question: What is the most fun you have had in Tigard since starting your position?
Going to Movies in the Park at Metzger School Park. It was fun to see Moana and see all of the families come out. That was a really great evening. That was something new for me.