Washington County – Two candidates will face off on the May 15 election: Jerry Willey and Kimberly Culbertson, both from Hillsboro. Current District 4 Commissioner Bob Terry will not seek reelection- instead, Terry has filed to run for the Washington County Board of Commissioners Chair position being vacated by Andy Duyck, who is retiring.
District 4 includes the cities of Banks, Cornelius, Forest Grove, Gaston, Hillsboro and North Plains; it also includes the unincorporated communities of Gales Creek, Glenwood, Timber, Buxton, Manning, Verboort, Roy, Mountaindale, Cherry Grove, Patton Valley, Laurelwood and dozens more; the district is larger in square mileage than all the other three districts combined.
A joint Citizen Participation Organization (CPO) candidates forum will be held on April 3 from 7 to 9 pm at Old Town Church in Forest Grove with both candidates; the forum is hosted by CPOs 10, 12F, 13, and 15 (disclosure: the publisher of this newspaper chairs CPO 13). The CPO is a volunteer run, nonpartisan county program that, among other things, discusses community livability and land use issues, and hosts a variety of candidate forums.
The Gales Creek Journal sat down with both candidates and discussed their campaigns, their policy ideas, and more.
Willey hails originally from Walla Walla, and moved to the city of Hillsboro in 1983, where he has lived off and on since. He served two terms as Mayor of Hillsboro from 2009-2017 and as a member of the Hillsboro City Council from 1992–1997.
Willey says he decided to run for the District 4 seat to bring his relationships and experiences he’s had as Mayor of Hillsboro to the entire district.
Asked how he would balance the needs of a district that is split between the larger urban Hillsboro and the smaller surrounding rural areas and towns, Willey said that he thinks the county has done a good job balancing the needs of the diverse parts of the county. He says he plans to continue learning more about the needs of the respective urban and rural populations to meet their needs.
Willey says transportation, congestion, and affordable housing are the most pressing concerns facing the urban portions of District 4 and countywide; narrowing the focus to issues in rural areas in District 4, Willey says that rural roads being used as commuter roads is problematic, causing competition with farmers and commuters on roads that weren’t designed for heavy traffic.
Asked about the Salmonberry Trail, Willey gave the concept a good review. “What a spectacular opportunity we have,” Willey said. “It’s unfortunate that it’s going to take so long to get that project completed. And certainly, it’s going to be expensive.”
Culbertson was born in McMinnville, and ended up in Hillsboro by way of Vale, Pendleton, and Portland. She’s lived in the same downtown Hillsboro home since 1998.
She’s served on a variety of county boards and with community organizations, including Oregon State University’s Master Gardener program, the Heart of Hillsboro Neighborhood Association, Hillsboro’s CPO 9, Washington County’s agritourism task force, Hillsboro’s Urban Renewal Advisory Committee, and more.
Culbertson says she decided to run for the District 4 seat to take the knowledge and experience she’s gained from her time serving on various boards and committees to where decisions about the growth of Washington County are made.
Asked how she would balance the needs of a district that is split between the larger urban Hillsboro and the smaller surrounding rural areas and towns, Culbertson says she would listen to residents and focus on what the specific and constantly changing issues facing communities might be, while proactively working in partnership with community outreach groups.
Culbertson says the most pressing issue facing District 4 is growth, with a lack of affordable housing causing high percentages of commuting residents, in turn causing congestion issues throughout the county.
Asked about the Salmonberry Trail, Culbertson was not very familiar with the trail, but expressed concerns about conflict between farm use and trail use. “When we bring people through our farmland,” says Culbertson “it has to work for the farmers as well as the tourists.”
Sources and more information:
Washington County Community Engagement Program
Old Town Church is located at 2224 15th Avenue, in Forest Grove.