Sweet Home City Council candidates state their views

Why do you want to be a Sweet Home City Council member?

James Goble: I would like to retain my seat, so we can continue to make real progress through these difficult times for our community. 

Lisa Gourley: In the past four years I have learned that continuity on the council is important. That as a councilor it’s important to know the issues and challenges that face us. I have, as well as the other councilors, invested a lot of time and energy for our community in an effort to move us forward. I care deeply about Sweet Home and feel that there are projects that I would like to see completed.

David Lowman: I want to contribute, donate, and volunteer as much to the city I love. I want to be part of helping keep this city of Sweet Home safe and beautiful for all the residents of this great city. I want to see a healthy and successful Main Street/downtown, where businesses are thriving and people want to come and shop and spend money.

I believe that it is finally time to turn the page and explore a new chapter. I am very much looking forward to serving our citizens as their councilman. The people that truly know me, know that I will work tirelessly on behalf of this great community.

Cortney Nash: Did not respond to this question.

Dylan Richards: I want to serve on the Sweet Home City Council because I bring a different voice, and new ideas that are much needed on the council. I love our city and I see so much potential not being used.

Angelita N. Sanchez: As an advocate for small business statewide, I want to also help at home. I want to use my voice to make Sweet Home sweet again and give people pride and hope for a future. As a business owner, I want to do whatever I can to grow the local economy.

Dave Trask: I want to continue to serve my friends and neighbors with a voice for the whole city and continue the work we put in place. We, as Council, have made many changes in the past several years; updates to parks, water and sewer infrastructure and recruited several new management team members that is just beginning to hit its stride. 

Theo White: I want to serve the people of Sweet Home so our children can have a brighter future. There is nothing normal about the new normal. There is nothing social about social distancing.

We are clearly not in this together. Stay-at-home orders mean house arrest. The same institutions that are designed to do the exact opposite of social distancing are closed. The state must open schools without restrictions or mandates.

Please describe your view of the proper role of government and how your philosophy of government would impact how you carry out your responsibilities in leading the city.

Theo White: I am a champion of the U.S. Constitution. We need local government to honor the U.S. Constitution and protect constitutionally compliant businesses. We need to protect the timber industry and bring back the Oregon Jamboree.

It is not the virus itself or whether COVID-19 exists that makes it a hoax, it is the declaration of emergency that makes COVID-19 a hoax. If we turned off the television, took off our masks, and went back to normal, there would not be a pandemic. 

James Goble: Did not respond to this question.

Lisa Gourley: I believe the government should work with citizens to meet the needs of the community. Government has a responsibility to weigh each issue that comes before them without preconceived agendas. Then, to weigh each decision and how it affects the citizens and our community.

David Lowman: The role of government is to serve the people of their community and I believe our government is meant to preserve our liberties and promote general welfare. Government should make the people in their community first and listen to all their concerns about problems in their community.

Cortney Nash: Did not respond to this question.

Dylan Richards: I am a Republican. I believe government should be on our side and not on our back. If elected, I plan to vote as a Republican and act as a conservative.

Angelita N. Sanchez: I believe the role of the government is to provide upkeep to infastructure but not to overregulate. I also believe the role of the government is to use taxpayers dollars as frugally as possible.

Dave Trask: Did not respond to this question.

What would you consider your primary responsibility/ies to voters as a council member if you are elected?

Dave Trask: Council members are elected to make decisions. Council members are a policy board and must work together as a team to make policy decisions that do the most good for the most people for the longest period of time. I believe that we do that through enacting policies that mirror our community’s conservative values and conservative use of finances.

Theo White: Did not respond to this question.

James Goble: Did not respond to this question.

Lisa Gourley: City councilors have the primary responsibility to ask the tough questions and make informed decisions in regards to city business and governance. They should strive always to be responsive to the needs of the citizens within the community.

David Lowman: Council members are there to represent the people of Sweet Home and make sure they are spending money and passing ordinances that are in the best interest of our people and using tax dollars wisely.

Cortney Nash: Did not respond to this question.

Dylan Richards: Putting together budgets and standing up for constituents.

Angelita N. Sanchez: Managing their dollars as frugally as possible, while looking at ways and places to cut spending.

A lot of city government revolves around funding – budgets and taxation. In general, how do you view the city’s performance in these areas? If you would change it, how would you do so?

Angelita N. Sanchez: I will be looking to put local businesses to work with taxpayers dollars on projects. I will also be looking for more than one bid for the best value. Before I ask the people for more money, I will look at ways to cut spending.

Dave Trask: We’ve finished under budget in each of the past three years and built our reserves back to safe levels in case of an economic downturn. In the same timeframe we have been blessed with the funds and the ability to achieve many improvements.

We’ve also successfully lobbied for $9,000,000 from the state for our waste water treatment plant upgrades. Staff has also been very successful obtaining grants for the Sankey Park upgrades.

So I would say the city has performed well financially. I take the efficient use of taxpayer funds very seriously. Our funding is limited with one of the lowest permanent tax rates in Oregon. This creates challenges other cities just don’t have to face.

If I could change anything about Oregon taxation, I would have more funding passed down from the state to local government for streets and other infrastructure projects. I believe we pay too much in taxes and fees, we should be better handling them at all levels of government.

Theo White: Did not respond to this question.

James Goble: Did not respond to this question.

Lisa Gourley: I think the council strives hard to be fiscally responsible yet meet the needs of the community to ensure the viability of our community. I would love to see more people involved in the budgetary and levy processes.

David Lowman: I believe that they could improve in these areas. I would seek out and fight for as many federal grant dollars for our city to help save our tax payer dollars. I would fight to give new businessess great incentives with tax breaks to move into our great city of Sweet Home to help the tax base and to help bring more people to shop in our town.

Cortney Nash: Did not respond to this question.

Dylan Richards: I view the city as doing a very poor job when it comes to this. Taxes are too high. We have plenty of taxes, but we do not spend the money responsibly. We need a city councilor who will do a good job of being fiscally responsible.

What should the city do to encourage economic growth in Sweet Home?

Dylan Richards: Cut taxes and give tax breaks for businesses wanting to come to Sweet Home.

Angelita N. Sanchez: Offer incentives to startups, encourage upkeep of commercial property and cut some taxes for a year to bring new start ups to town.

Dave Trask: We need to make it easy for businesses to succeed in Sweet Home. When our new city manager was brought on we gave staff a clear path to what we felt we needed. It has been a slower pace than we want to see but we have taken steps in that direction.

We’re trying to make doing business in Sweet Home easier by developing partnerships to help local businesses grow and develop. We’re working on a new development code that will make building easier. We’re working on codes that will make downtown look more inviting. We also have a grant program to help downtown building owners make improvements.

Theo White: One of my top three issues is the right for local businesses to operate a constitutionally compliant business.

James Goble: We, as council members, and our city manager have placed key new employees on the staff; their main focus is on growth. They reach out to potential resources and are proactive.

We need to keep pushing to create local, livable-wage, good jobs. The city council, city manager, along with economic development department have helped streamline how growth can continue.

There are plans, help, and other partners to help sustain new business that are failing. We need to continue to push this so hesitant potential new businesses know there is help for new starts.

Lisa Gourley: We need to attract businesses and economic growth by investing in our infrastructure and livability programs within the city. These are inter-related when trying to stimulate economic growth. As well as continuing to build partnerships regionally and statewide.

David Lowman: Promote new businesses and give incentives with tax breaks to move into our great city of Sweet Home. Increased real wages – if nominal wages grow above inflation then consumers have more disposable to spend.

Cortney Nash: Did not respond to this question.

Water and sewer services have presented pressing and sometimes contentious issues in recent years, as city officials have tried to balance the costs of providing those services without putting too much of a burden on citizens. What would be your priority(ies) in addressing this challenge?

Cortney Nash: Did not respond to this question.

Dylan Richards: It is the council’s fault we have let costs go so high. One way we could cut costs down is by looking to the legislature for help in addressing the costs.

Angelita N. Sanchez: I’d have to see more information about this issue to make an informed decision. I’m unaware as to what’s been done or why.

Dave Trask: My priority is to deliver clean drinking water and treated waste water as inexpensively as possible.

Our public works director has been able to give us an idea and path to make all of the issues easier to start. Our infrastructure had not been properly maintained due to lack of funding. We’ve worked hard to correct those deficiencies and keep costs down.

The wastewater plant is a huge problem that is our biggest challenge of the day. I went to Salem and testified to help secure $9 million dollars for the wastewater treatment plant upgrade. That’s $9,000,000 we don’t have to pay for with rate increases.

We’ve also repaired water leaks that were wasting about 400,000 gallons of treated water every day. Rate payers were having to pay for the treatment of that lost water. About 40% of all the water we produced was wasted, but now we should start to see costs for water production go down and water rates stabilize.

The other thing that will help keep rates down is an increase in System Development Charges. Developers have never had to pay for the expansion of city infrastructure before. Updated System Development Charges will require developers help cover increased costs out of their profits instead of placing that burden on citizens.

Theo White: Did not respond to this question.

James Goble: This is a big one. I am so proud of our city staff for being relentless on grants, meeting, and keeping the council in the loop. We need to make sure this project does not lose funding, does not fall behind schedule, and we help in being proactive with experienced staff’s ideas.

Lisa Gourley: While I have been on the council the city has invested in equipment that identifies leaks. We have also started the process of building a new more effective waste water treatment facility. Both of these should help relieve some of the burden carried by our citizens. I will continue as always to advocate for responsible investment and cost containment.

David Lowman: Seek out more federal grant dollars to help pay some of the costs of our wastewater plant to help lower the high cost of our water and sewer bills. Fix problems when they occur, don’t wait for years down the road to fix them and have to pay higher cost to repair them. Issue bonds to get money when we need it.

In addition to any of the issues already touched on, what do you consider the biggest challenge(s) facing Sweet Home? As briefly as possible, how would you address it/those?

David Lowman: I believe we need to work on downtown Main Street beautification. Go after all federal grant beautification dollars and give closed business incentives to get new business to our great City of Sweet Home. If we beautify our downtown I believe it would bring people in to shop and spend money.

Cortney Nash: Did not respond to this question.

Dylan Richards: I believe that Sweet Home needs to work on road maintenance. I hear countless folks come up to me and ask what are we going to do about the roads. Some of the issues that people are having is out of Sweet Home’s jurisdiction, such as county roads. I believe that we need to focus on fixing the roads that are most overdue first, and to do this we could do several different things, such as allocating more money towards this problem or basing a bond/levy.

Angelita N. Sanchez: I believe our story needs to be re-written and people need to experience Sweet Home. We need pride (emphasis) back in our town.

Dave Trask: I have always tried to attract more businesses into our community. With all that has happened since January it has been difficult to move forward on that. Businesses are cutting back ro closing, not expanding or relocating. Of course finance is a tough one to project but the staff has worked tirelessly to keep that in check, again being under budget.

Theo White: Political correctness, the use of labels, controlled media, language police, thought police, the suppression of any real diversity of opinion, drug abuse, the government’s monopoly on education, censorship, and complicated plans that leave things exactly the way they were.

James Goble: Did not respond to this question.

Lisa Gourley: Economic stability is a high priority for me. Because of the challenges facing our community in 2020 we have an added burden to help businesses continue to be viable in this economy. To help them identify non-traditional outlets for business opportunities.

In a field of nine candidates, what most distinguishes you from the other candidates? Why should voters consider electing you to the council?

Lisa Gourley: The difference is my experience on the council and the partnerships that I have developed over time. This combined with the immense value that I place on our citizens and community’s potential.

Governing a city is a team effort. It takes everyone working together – each bringing their strengths and ideas to the table to get the best results possible. Being able to recognize this is an important skill.

David Lowman: I have volunteered on Sweet Home Budget committee and also volunteer on the City Charter Review Committee. I enjoy being a public servant and giving back to my community. I believe a city should be run like a business with checks and balances. I have over thirty years of management experience.

I have been known to work tirelessly on projects that concern the community that I live in. I will fight for our citizens of Sweet Home. You will always come first. I know how to stand up and make the right decisions even if it is unpopular with others. My service-oriented work experience.

Cortney Nash: Did not respond to this question.

Dylan Richards: Did not respond to this question.

Angelita N. Sanchez: We have beautiful opportunity here for recreational activities and tourism and we need to expand on that. I want to encourage local things to draw people into town, instead of discouraging them and cause them to stay away.

I am the only small business owner out of all the candidates. I know what it’s like to work hard and see all the government red tape choke the businesses out. I’m also not a politician. I am the only one who stood up for working Oregonians to preserve our town and our rural way of life. Sweet Home was my primary concern for saying something.

As a contractor, I know how to read bids and make sure projects get completed on time and under budget.

I have been endorsed by and the only candidate with these endorsements: TimberUnity, Oregon Small Businesses Association, State Sen. Fred Girod, Oregon Sportsman Association, Taxpayers Association of Oregon.

Dave Trask: Having lived nearly all my life in Sweet Home, I have a passion for our city. When I first ran for Council it was because I was tired of sitting back and watching nothing happen.

I have worked hard, making tough decisions, trying to make our community a safe and desirable place to live. I love this town and want to see us grow in a way that is beneficial to everyone – grow jobs, grow opportunities and grow our quality of life.

I would be a voice for all. Not always agreeing on some issues, the Council has been working to meet some lofty goals and I have been glad to be a part of that. Lastly, the staff has done a great job and they, in my opinion, should get a lot of the credit.

Theo White: Did not respond to this question.

James Goble: Did not respond to this question.