There was no podium in sight at the “Good Evening Tualatin: 2023 State of the City Address,” held April 26 at the City Services building on Herman Road.
Instead, Mayor Frank Bubenik and City Council President Valerie Pratt sat in comfortable club chairs on a stage as they introduced and interviewed City Council members to talk about key issues in the city.
The first person to sit in the third chair on the stage was not a councilor, but Anneleah Jaxen, CEO of the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce, which co-hosted the event.
“We lost members during Covid, but we are working on a new website and brochure,” Jaxen said. “We want to be advocates for our businesses. We took a survey of our members, who said they want more government advocacy and are against (interstate) tolling.”
Bubenik introduced a video that featured what has been going on in the city for the past couple of years as well as new programs coming online. The video focused on seven priorities in the city set by the City Council.
Bubenik explained that every two years, the council and key staff go on a retreat to plan for the future. He listed the 2023 priorities that came out of the last retreat as well as current projects that include the five-year Moving Forward transportation bond measure, adding an I-5 ramp, street improvements, and the addition of Lime scooters, which to date have had 7,000 riders traveling 8,000 miles, adding, “You can get a helmet at the City Services building.”
In addition, “We are concerned about tolling, and the City Council is concerned about its impact,” Bubenik said. “I have asked ODOT to consider alternative revenue sources for I-205.”
Next, it was the councilors’ turn to step up to the stage, starting with Councilor Christen Sacco, who talked about the I.D.E.A. Advisory Committee, which came out of an equity planning group. I.D.E.A. stands for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access.
“It represents researching and helping people understand their options and getting the under-served the help they need,” Sacco said. “And we want to make it easier to get involved in city government. The city recently approved an equity and inclusion officer. Events like this and ¡Viva Tualatin! bring us together.”
Councilor Bridget Brooks talked about the city’s Climate Action Plan and showed off its new logo. She said the smoke that filled the metro area from out-of-control forest fires a few years ago, “giving us the worst air quality in the country, along with hotter summers, are signs of climate change.”
“We want to increase our community’s sustainability and encourage strong community engagement, and we will work with the business community this year,” she said.
Councilor Octavio Gonzalez discussed community assets, starting with the $25 million parks bond voters passed. “We have an aging water system and will be looking to make improvements,” he said.
Councilor Maria Reyes said that there is a great opportunity to invest in the city’s cultural and economic vitality. “When the pandemic hit, we got grants to help small businesses, and in November, we started Latino business networking,” she said.
Councilor Cyndy Hillier talked about crisis preparedness and specifically the city’s CERT team (Community Emergency Response Team) that trains and links volunteers and neighborhoods to help each other when disaster strikes. “I encourage all of you to participate,” she said.
Hillier praised the addition of a mental health clinician who partners with police in Tualatin, Tigard, and Sherwood to respond to calls for service involving people in a mental health crisis, an expansion of Washington County’s Health Response Team.
Bubenik told the audience that a community survey that goes out every two years will soon be sent out. “It’s a temperature check on how well city services are doing,” he said. “I very much encourage everyone to respond on the city’s website or through snail mail.”
Pratt added, “It is always wonderful to hear from people. You are always welcome to come to City Council meetings and talk about anything. It helps us to be informed. We have a huge number of volunteers in the community, and I encourage you to volunteer.”
Bubenik thanked all the spouses and partners of the city councilors for their support. “We’re all trying to do a great job for the community, and we couldn’t do this without our spouses’ support,” he said.
Bubenik and Pratt then answered a few questions from the audience at the end of the event.
You can watch the entire event on the city’s YouTube channel – @TualatinCity – and the City Council encourages everyone to email them with questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.