Candidates for Washington County Commission - District 1

A questionnaire was sent to candidates in the Portland-metro region, and below are the responses in regard to issues that are important to the Alliance and the business community.

* indicates Alliance endorsed candidate.

1. The Allianceís primary focus for the 2016 election cycle will be to support those candidates and ballot measure proponents who clearly and publicly join us in opposing IP 28, the gross receipts tax measure, which will be so detrimental to Oregonís economy. What is your position on IP28?
Dick Schouten Undecided - but may possibly support. I would be interested in seeing compromise legislation worked out, as discussed in Steve Law's Portland Tribune editorial of March 9th, 2016.
2. Portland State University (PSU), part of the stateís higher education system, is considering a tax on payroll within the Portland region that they project will raise between $30 and $70 million to support PSU. What is your view on a potential regional payroll tax on employers to fund PSU?
Dick Schouten I think it may be a good idea. I need to study this issue further as well. I have no alumni or professional connections to PSU, but I believe (based on my own personal experiences in California and research analysis I have read), it's vital for a State's major metro area(s) to have a large, flagship research university based there. PSU has historically been given second class treatment vis-a-vis Oregon State and University of Oregon to the ultimate detriment of the Greater Portland Area's economy, and all of us living and working here. Our region needs to make a major financial effort to buttress PSU's programs, capital projects, etc.
3. The Value of Jobs Coalition's 2015 Middle-Income Jobs Report found that Portland-metro, like most of the nation, has seen low- and high-income jobs account for increasingly larger shares of the regionís overall employment base, while middle-income jobs, as a share of the regionís total employment, have dropped from 69 percent in 1980 to 57 percent in 2013. What would you do to increase the number of middle-income jobs in our region?
Dick Schouten It's really important that we significantly invest in and grow our research and higher education infrastructure in this Region with an emphasis on STEAM programs. We also need to invest in 21" Century technical and trade job training and counseling at the high school and community college level. Affordable housing (rental and particularly home ownership) is a major driver to middle class status. Local government needs to relax land use zoning, parking requirements to greatly expand opportunities to build duplexes, triplexes, accessory dwelling units, etc., relax parking requirements and further streamline building and land use permitting. We may also need to trim back system development charges (SDC) as well, or at least greatly flatten the recent, sharp rise in SDC costs.
4. The same Middle Income Jobs Report found that Portlandís housing prices are becoming increasingly out of reach not only for low-income households, but also for middle-income households. What would you do to address housing affordability for middle-income residents in our region?
Dick Schouten Portland Metro's housing market is clearly regional and therefore housing affordability is a regional issue. As I said in my prior response, "local government needs to relax land use zoning, parking requirements to greatly expand opportunities to build duplexes, triplexes, accessory dwelling units, etc., relax parking requirements and further streamline building and land use permitting. We may also need to trim back system development charges as well, or at least greatly flatten the recent, sharp rise in SDC costs." The public and private sector are going to have to work and help fund a cost-effective, humane cleanup of our growing homeless population - the national "Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness" program (first established nationally by the George W. Bush Administration) works if properly funded, and saves money for all of us in the long run.
5. The 2015 Economic Impacts of Congestion report shows that the Portland-region and the state of Oregonís competitiveness is largely dependent on efficient transportation. Failure to adequately invest in the system could cost the Portland-metro region $822 million annually by 2040 and close to 6,000 jobs. Do you support investments in the transportation system to support freight movement and remove bottlenecks to the efficient movement of goods and people?
Dick Schouten I would nuance the above question and say that the Portland-region and the state of Oregon's competitiveness is significantly dependent on efficient transportation. Land use is also highly important. "Smart" land use can greatly increase an area's transportation efficiency. And well≠ planned, attractive, charming urban and suburban neighborhoods with amenities, such as excellent restaurants, parks, entertainment and cultural offerings will also be hugely determinative of our Region's competitiveness. So yes we need to remove bottlenecks and be concerned with the efficient movement of goods (Intel products speedily transported shipped from Washington County Fabs to PDX), but not by doing so in such a manner that we degrade and pollute our communities and neighborhoods. It's a balance the City of Portland has accomplished with considerable success. The economic value of the positive national and international media coverage the City of Portland has received can hardly be overstated. It's enormous.
6. A 2013 report International Trade and the Portland Harborís Impact, found that Portland ranked 4th among the largest 100 metros in terms of export value as a share of metro output. Additionally, the report found that 90 percent of exports are small and medium sized businesses and that trade related jobs provide premium wages. What is your view on the role of trade to our economy and what can the city do to promote trade given international gateway facilities within the city?
Dick Schouten The traded sector part of the economy is hugely important for this Region. But I hesitate to have local government do the job of correctly choosing economic winners and losers via tax abatements, etc. Our local, regional, State and Federal governments and port districts can with prudence invest wisely in the regional port and airport facilities and infrastructure needed to efficiently transport passengers, goods and services to wherever in the Country and internationally they and "the market" say they need or want to go.
7. The Alliance is committed to ensuring an adequate supply of shovel ready industrial lands in the Portland-metro region to support job retention and growth. Manufacturing, in particular, requires industrial land and provides higher wages and better benefits than non-manufacturing jobs, particularly for non-whites and non-English-speaking workers. What tools and strategies would you use to promote adequate employment industrial lands that are shovel ready for development?
Dick Schouten Manufacturing is still important. I want to make sure Washington County, Hillsboro and others have a sufficient inventory of shovel ready sites inside our urban growth boundaries, and be ready to help finance the infrastructure needed to effectively bring urban reserve lands into the UGB and rapidly ready for manufacturing activities. But I wonder if many, if not most of our next higher paying and better benefit jobs will be found in "cool" urban places like the rapidly developing North Pearl, Slabtown, South Waterfront, Inner Eastside, etc., with respect to software developers, high end distilleries, and whatever else will be the next creative job opportunities to emerge. I will be watching, studying and doing the necessary policy work to make sure suburban Washington County continues to be a major economic engine as well.
8. How would you work with other jurisdictional partners to achieve mutual interests? How would you participate in regional coalition building?
Dick Schouten This Region is fortunate to have a number of excellent cross-jurisdictional forums to achieve mutual interests and build useful coalitions, e.g., JPACT, MPAC, and other Metro committees. Those and the local Association of Oregon Counties committees and organizations such as the Policy Committee for the Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization (which Committee I serve on), are all excellent places to build strong, coordinated regional efforts. It's important that you have the respect of your colleagues and peers by communicating well and honestly, and do what you say you are going to do. I do the above and enjoy strong, relationships with my colleagues on the Washington County Board of Commissioners, other electeds and many other decision makers across the Region.