Octavio Gonzalez was sworn in as a Tualatin city councilor on Jan. 5, but he already felt comfortable with many of the issues facing the city when he took the oath of office.
“I went door-to-door campaigning and also put out fliers and yard signs,” said Gonzalez, who previously ran for the Tigard-Tualatin School District Board of Directors in 2021. “As I went door to door while running for City Council, I learned that schools are a big focus for residents as well as security and homelessness.”
Gonzalez said he ran as an independent candidate without seeking endorsements because he did not want to be identified with any particular political faction.
His key reasons for running for City Council were listed in the Voters’ Pamphlet and include focusing on crime; promoting workforce development; protecting and enhancing natural resources and parks; providing safe neighborhoods and housing opportunities; and reducing home insecurity and homelessness.
Another reason is to partner with businesses and the school district’s #Workready programs for career opportunities for students by providing internships as they transition into the workforce.
“There are a lot of high-paying jobs in the trades, including landscaping, drywall, automotive repair, and so many other professions,” Gonzalez said. “When people think of landscaping, they think that you pull weeds. I did that once, but now I do so much more.”
Also in the Voters’ Pamphlet, Gonzalez wrote about his background, “I was born in Mexico to migrant parents. I have been married for 26 years to my high school sweetheart (Heidi). We have been residents of Oregon for 26 years and residents of Tualatin for 11 years, where we are raising our two young children.”
Gonzalez, who studied business and landscape at Clackamas Community College, was a small business owner for seven years. Now he is an HOA (Homeowners Association) landscape account manager for Pacific Landscape Management, overseeing large landscaping budgets, which includes planning for maintenance, improvements and long-term expenses that will affect HOA dues.
His work in managing HOA landscapes “translates to doing city business because I deal with getting permits and other processes and protocols,” said Gonzalez, who currently serves on the school district’s Budget Committee.
Because of his day job, Gonzalez supported the city’s $25 million park bond measure that voters approved in the November election. Part of the funds will be used for a new pedestrian trail to connect the east and west sides of town divided by Interstate 5; new athletic fields plus updates to existing fields; and improved access to the Tualatin River. Thanks to his background, Gonzalez expects to provide valuable input as the city plans how to utilize the bond measure funds.
Gonzalez also is looking forward to being involved as Tualatin implements new “middle housing” policies created by House Bill 2001, passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2019. It requires cities and counties to infill existing land with expanded housing options.
And he has one more goal: Recognizing that Tualatin’s Hispanic community is growing, Gonzalez added, “I want to be that bridge to connect Hispanics with city government.”
Gonzalez, who became a U.S. citizen two years ago, and his family live in the Fox Hills neighborhood, where he is active in his community.
Re-elected City Councilors Maria Reyes and Bridget Brooks were sworn in for their second four-year terms, and Mayor Frank Bubenik was also sworn in for his second four-year term. All three of them ran unopposed in the November election.