Issues & Concerns 

1. I will work to create good working relationships, based on coordination and trust among individual agencies to help to attract new businesses rather than repel them. For example, why do agencies meet with prospective clients separately instead of as a joined force?

 

It seems to me that successful placement of a business or industry, large or small, anywhere in the county is a success for all of the county residents and businesses. Why are we competing with each other, instead of working together for the common good? Understanding that prospective clients likely want their “tire kicking” held close to vest, why not appoint a group of people with representation from the county, cities, port and business to meet with prospective suitors, collectively rather than individually.

 

I feel that a success in Vernonia is a success in Scappoose, equaling a success for us all.


2. We need to improve customer service in local government. Some agencies truly value their constituents as customers, others do not. How many times do we hear about the “run around” that people feel they are given by some departments or the agency in general? We need to create a culture that says the taxpayers we serve are our customers, as if our jobs and life depended on it, as they do.  We need to see that Columbia County residents feel good about dealing with government agencies.

3. Do we actively listen to our existing business and industry leaders, to fully understand their needs and concerns? I know there are lots of meetings that government leaders attend, and I do believe they listen; however, I think business in general, knows how to attract business, so at least occasional forums between government and business leaders need to be held to map strategies for the future. The existing businesses and industries in our county know what complementary industries would help to make them more successful.

 

 

This type of strategy may not only add jobs but make the businesses that have chosen to locate here more successful in the long term.

 

 5. Sheriff’s Office:    Stable funding is important to every government agency. The Columbia County Sheriff's Office is no exception. I want to look at every available option to provide stable funding to the Sheriff's Office. I think that law enforcement, and adequately incarcerating criminals, like health care, is viewed as a need rather than an option when industry or small business is weighing a move to a certain area. It is also a livability issue. I support the model that the County Commissioners have set up with forming the Enhanced Law Enforcement Advisory Committee, to explore funding options, and anxiously await their recommendations.

 

Sheriff Dickerson will need to work hard (along with citizens from throughout the county) to get the message out to the taxpayers of the need for good police protection in the rural areas, and adequate funding for the jail, so we can keep those who belong behind bars, behind bars. Lets send the Meth Cooks back to where they came from, by giving them a clear message: You are not welcome here. To do this, we need 24 / 7 coverage from patrol deputies. I feel that the working relationship between the Sheriff and the Board of County Commissioners needs to be strong. 
 
6. Public Transportation:     Obviously near and dear to my heart. I believe we need to develop a stable funding source for transit. We have a large and vulnerable youth and senior population in Columbia County. Often the transportation that many take for granted, is a huge barrier to those without motor vehicle access or those with special travel needs.

 

We have seen significant growth in public transit ridership and I believe there is more to come as Columbia County Continues to grow. Because our transit resources are primarily grant funded, coming up with the needed match dollars is most difficult. The discussion of a public transit district must occur county wide. Convenient and affordable public transportation is a must for the elderly, disabled and general public alike. Every county surrounding ours has a public transportation program that is locally funded in addition to the grants.

 

Again, this is an issue that will help to attract business and therefore long term stability in our communities as well as the most remote rural areas.

7. Roads and Parks:    Our current road infrastructure needs lots of attention. Thankfully, some projects are being taken care of thanks to the ARRA funds. Those funds won’t be here forever but our roads will be. I believe that we need to make sure that a plan for the future is in place. Taking small steps is better than not taking any steps towards improvement and growth. 

 

 

We need to be proactive in applying for grants that will stretch our roads and parks dollars. Realistic timelines need to be established to accomplish needed maintenance and repairs. Similar repairs and maintenance are needed at the fairgrounds and parks buildings. We seem to be living in a “maintenance deferral “world, thinking that these problems will take care of themselves over time. At what point do we hit the wall? We must come up with a strategy to make our existing infrastructure last a whole lot longer. Besides, it would be nice to have our constituents be proud of what we have, versus having things always looking run down, and repairs only being done when absolutely necessary.

 
8. County Finance and Budget:    I think we need to have a budget document that can be read and understood by a junior high student. I feel that you can create trust with the taxpayers when they can easily understand the public documents, especially when they can be appropriately explained by a budget staffer.

 

First they have to be able to be understood by county employees themselves. This is an ongoing problem that I hear about regularly. As I understand it, this last reprieve sunsets in less than 3 years. How will we backfill if this goes away? I am sure the commissioners are working on this, and I believe that a contingency plan needs to be put together sooner than later.


9. Fees:  It seems like there is a fee for just about everything and it seems like fees are being used to help backfill a broken finance system. On the other hand, some people seem to think that county departments (such as planning) should be fee supported to the point of profit. We can't have it both ways. The requirements the state mandates as well as our local rules and their enforcement need to be supported by everyone in the County.

 

After all, the livability of our communities often relies on good planning and enforcement. I believe that system development charges are necessary in many applications to help recoup some of the costs involved with providing new services to proposed developments. I also believe that local governments need to actively be collecting the fees and charges that are currently authorized in order to best support each and every Columbia County resident.

                       

 
10. Senior Services:   The decrease of local senior advocates in the local senior centers has become a recent problem. The necessary budget cuts by the Community Action Team has taken its toll in our local towns. Our seniors often feel they are not perceived as an important part of the communities.

 

I feel that they are a critical part of Columbia County and deserve out respect and support. These folks are a vibrant and exciting part of my life as well as many others. We need to make them feel valued. I want to work to bring additional funding to our county for senior services. Don’t get me wrong, we do have lots of organizations that are working to improve the quality of life that our seniors deserve, but I don’t want to back slide in this area. After all, I am a "Boomer" and there are more of us than any other generation. I hope we can take care of ourselves when it is our turn. The need for healthcare options, housing, transportation, meals, social outings and fellowship are true and real needs that many of us youngsters don’t understand.

 

I think we need to actively support our senior service agencies throughout the county.

 
11. Emergency Management:     I want to continue to build the relationship among the emergency services providers that are currently helping to fund the staffing requirements in the Emergency Operations Center. In addition, building the partnerships that lead to interagency trust during a disaster is crucial. CEPA/LEPC is an excellent example, as is the new Transportation Consortium that I am developing between all of the bus providers countywide. The more we know and trust each other the smoother things work when needed.

 

12. Children:   I support the local school based health centers in both the Sacajewa Center in St Helens and the new center based in the Rainier Schools. Realizing that some children will always fall through the cracks economically, the school based clinics help to assure medical, dental and emotional health care to those students that may not be able to access services otherwise. It is a proven fact that healthy kids learn better and faster.

 

Higher education opportunities are paramount to helping local kids achieve higher goals.  Community colleges are a great way for students to access those opportunities. Beyond financial constraints, often the largest barrier keeping a student from going to college is access.  In recent years Portland Community College has made strides in breaking down some of those barriers, namely by offering a stipend to Columbia County Rider for transportation to the PCC Rock Creek Campus, and recently by offering more classes locally. I intend to continue the conversation with PCC to encourage them to increase their investment in Columbia County students. After all, we have invested and continue to invest in them. I see PCC being a more visible partner in our local educational process, and I will work diligently with the other Commissioners to assure this.

 

 13. County Facilities:    I strongly believe that we, as steward of the tax dollars that we are given, must look at properly maintaining our infrastructure, whether it is buildings, roads, parks, vehicles or anything else. All things eventually wear out so we need to budget funds into reserve accounts to handle the inevitable large scale repairs. We also need to do some long range planning and determine the life span of Columbia County's many assets and plan for repair or replacement as warranted. This will be a daunting task, but to adequately prepare, we must get started.  

 

I encourage your questions, comments and ideas about life in Columbia County and ways your County Commissioners can best serve you.

 

 

Please consider casting your vote for me as Columbia County Commissioner, Position #2 during the upcoming election.

 

 

Thank you,

 

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© Henry Heimuller for Columbia County Commissioner