TILLAMOOK COUNTY PIONEER’S QUESTIONS FOR THE CANDIDATES – Nov. 2022: City of Garibaldi – Mayor & 2 City Council Positions

It’s election time – and in Tillamook County there has been an increase in participation in our government process with many races having multiple choices. The Pioneer is proud to provide this opportunity for our community to make informed voting choices and learn about the candidates. Tillamook County Pioneer’s Questions for the Candidates – November 2022. We will post the candidate’s answers (that we received) in all the national, state and local races, including those from candidates in uncontested races. These questions were gathered from a diverse array of Tillamook County citizens, and provides an opportunity for constituents to compare candidates answers directly.

Here are the candidates for Garibaldi Mayor (2 year term) and City Council (2 positions, 4 year Term):

Mayor – 2 year term
Judy Riggs

What is your vision of a thriving community?
Where the residents and stakeholders are engaged in decisions that promote a positive outcome.
Sustainable businesses doing well all year around. Solid programs in place for public administration. A clear vision for the future by establishing attainable/measurable goals with one year, two year, and five year timelines.

If elected, what would you do within your position to advance this vision?
Hold Town Hall meetings (like I did before Covid) and public outreach to encourage more citizen participation. Bring civility back to City Council Meetings to make meetings more productive. Hold workshops for the council members to educate them for a more cohesive team. I have a strong relationship with the Port of Garibaldi, and work to promote tourism for the city/port businesses. Review and rewrite codes and programs to ensure they are up to date/relevant and provide continuity of procedures through regulations. Develop one year, two year, and five year goals with citizens and stakeholders.

Please provide a SWOT analysis of your municipality/district:
Strengths – Pride in the community, and strong fishing industry
Weaknesses – Financial audits being behind which could disqualify us for certain grant funding. Lack of continuity with permanent city manager leadership.
Opportunities – Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad is developing their operation to update the grounds to attract more visitors. Formation of a Fire District with Bay City and Rockaway Beach is currently in the works.
Threats – Lack of funding resources

Let’s focus on the positive things going on. Tell our readers about what you will do, if elected to make positive contributions to the community.
I would reach out to the Main Street Program to develop a plan moving forward. Bringing in the Main Street organization to offer solutions to update storefronts and ways to revitalize the downtown area. Hold monthly coffee sessions with business owners to discuss challenges and how the city can help address them. Bring back Town Hall meetings to discuss issues and pertinent challenges. I would also like to see more bike and walking trails throughout the city.

There are many challenges facing our community. What are the issues you think are NOT being adequately addressed?

TOURISM: When the Tourism Committee was dissolved when the current mayor took office, we lost a talented group of volunteers and stakeholders who were developing their mission statement and vision statement for their organization under the guidance of Nan Devlin. It was formed during Covid closures and they never had a chance to show what they could do.
FUNDING: Lack of transparency and guidelines for funding and grant funded expenditures.
PERMIT PROCESS: The length of time for the permit process is too long. Lack of adequate resources for citizens’ questions to be answered and permits obtained.
REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION/COMPLAINT PROCESS: Requests are currently not addressed in a timely manner.
COUNCIL MEETINGS: Lack of civility and Robert’s Rules of Order. Meetings are too long to keep the audience engaged. Sound system is inadequate for recording and ZOOM purposes.

If elected, how would you work to address these issues?
TOURISM: Revive the Tourism Committee to continue to promote our community.
FUNDING: Bring back the Resolution system to define the expenditures and properly document council approval. Educate council and purchasers on procedures to be followed.
PERMIT PROCESS: Ensure timeliness and follow through, and establish a well-qualified source for immediate questions.
REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION/COMPLAINT PROCESS: Establish a system to promote timely answers and prevent the requests/complaints from “falling through the cracks’ and being unresolved.
COUNCIL MEETINGS: Educate councilors on Robert’s Rules and city charter and codes. Hold workshops with items of lengthy subject matter to discuss the issue ahead of the council meeting if possible. Encourage guest speakers but spread out presentations if possible. Ensure fair treatment of all public commenters and use an actual time clock. Enforce decorum and order. Ensure an adequate PA system is in place so folks joining ZOOM can hear and be heard.

What is your experience in municipal government service?
Mayor of Garibaldi, 1/19-1/21
Garibaldi City Council (8/2017-1/2019, 1/21-present)
Tillamook County Transportation District (2007-Present, Board Chair 8 years, Vice Chair 2022)

Mayor

Tim Hall (current Mayor)

What is your vision of a thriving community?
Frankly, to thrive, Garibaldi must have a stable financial position within Tillamook County and the State of Oregon. A city’s health is based on its financial strength and well-being. Garibaldi has serious financial problems that were clearly neglected by the previous mayor Judy Riggs while in office.
FINANCES: As mayor, my first priority was to have the Council address the costly errors that included financial irregularities and improprieties, delinquent audits, and poor recordkeeping – all of which was worse in 2019 and 2020, according to our City Auditor.
The City is still denied 10 percent of its State allotted funding and is ineligible for many State and federal grants that could help with the $800,000 backlog of water and sewer work that was not revealed to the Council in 2020.
We established a well-qualified team with financial expertise to investigate the warnings from the City Auditor and State officials. While there is a lot of denial of the problems from Riggs, official State and Auditor notices of delinquencies kept from Council members have since been shared publicly. A cover-up is never a solution to a problem.
HOUSING: While Riggs lobbied on behalf of a developer to personally push a 66 unit apartment complex on the city, the negative impact to the city’s  infrastructure and services as well as the city’s comprehensive plan were largely  ignored. I argued that residents should not have to fund the expansion of the city’s water and sewer systems and pay for additional law-enforcement to accommodate the huge housing complex on a small lot. I stated Garibaldi is not a labor camp, nor should people be forced to double up to pay an expensive rent for a studio apartment.
As mayor, I lobbied the apartment project’s financier to build something that fit our community – a compromise with struck: an affordable 18 unit one bedroom apartment building and seven homesite. In exchanged, I agreed to fast track the project, which was recently approved and will be built in early 2023.
If elected, what will you do to advance this vision?
Once our finances are in good order, the City can tackle the huge backlog of required water-sewer projects with grant funding. We must be in a strong position to afford services that help promote tourism while maintaining a good quality of life for all.  Garibaldi has a lot to offer our visitors. The delay of the Highway 101 project to 2025, gives Garibaldi some time to become eligible for major funding to support downtown businesses that wish to make improvements.
A Garibaldi Business Association has already been established, founded in March 2022 by local business owners.  (I supported their efforts; Riggs had no role).
SWOT
Strengths: friendly residents and welcoming local businesses.
Weakness: the lack of stable City funding; loss of state revenue.
Opportunities:  more citizens want the lingering financial problems fixed.
Threats: return of cronyism.
Tell our readers what you will do, if elected to make positive contributions to the community?
The long delayed Highway 101 renovation project is now in the one-year planning stage. My work with ODOT to move the project forward is undeniable. This improvement will transform Main Street and perhaps lure new businesses to town. The City must return properties that were once storefront back to potential businesses and not continue to reserve this desirable land for mostly vacant parking lots.
In 2007, residents participated in a Vision Plan for what they hoped to see Garibaldi look like in the future. It was an extensive citizen engagement process. That impressive work was placed on a shelf to gather dust. We can revisit and revise those plans and work with property owners and investors to embrace the Main Street vision. Despite claims, no single city counselor can do this alone.
As a private citizen, in 2019 I began work to gain Garibaldi a “Coast Guard City” designation at my personal expense.  My efforts were interrupted by Covid restrictions. A new opportunity arose that will further strengthen our case: The Coast Guard has generously offered – at no cost to the City – two historic and iconic buildings. The buildings are structurally sound, but we must take prudent steps to see if we can afford to re-purposed and maintain them. This could be a new City Hall. The buildings will otherwise be demolished. With the sudden reduction in overall City funds, consideration of this acquisition is on hold pending a grant for a feasibility study that had previously been funded.
What are the issues not being adequately addressed?
Judy Riggs would prefer that we not dwell on the big problems she left behind as mayor. It’s not that simple. The facts are, that as I took office, hundreds of City emails were purposefully deleted and boxes of City records were removed from City Hall (in violation of State law). Some of the emails have been recovered and reveal much of what was to be kept secret.
There’s still much cause for concern and questions about funds paid out without invoice records. A forensic audit for 2019–2020 is recommended and I will seek State funds to accomplish it.
With the needless loss of a well-qualified, productive city manager and experienced finance officer, the City is again at a disadvantage to meet State financial requirements. Recently, the City Council had to redo the annual budget to address the sudden high cost of contracting multiple professionals to provide City services. The City is not broke, but now it’s on an extreme tight-rope budget.
If elected, how would you work to address these issues?
Honestly, without new city counselors willing to listen and focus on helping Garibaldi seriously addressed the outstanding financial and management concerns, there is not much that can be done to make the improvements we were on track to do. We cannot afford debt spending on personal agendas and big giveaways.
I proudly volunteer to serve on the City Council as I believe my 16 years of actual experience in municipal government as well as my specialized talents and valuable connections will help to reestablish Garibaldi as “a living postcard,” as we recover from the health crisis. Garibaldi needs real plans, strategies, and actions to support residents, businesses and tourism. The City Council can no longer afford to be so disorganized and expect to see results to fix our finances.  We were on the right track forward until chaos struck.
What is your experience in municipal government service?
+ 16 years of service and recognized accomplishments to the City of Portland in the Water Bureau (manager of Public Affairs); the Bureau of Environmental Services (public information officer); and the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (public information officer). My responsibilities included working directly with City Commissioners, bureau directors and mayors.
+ City Councilor, Garibaldi, 2019-2020
+ Mayor, Garibaldi, 2021-2022

City Council – 4 year term – Vote for 2 – 4 candidates:

Linda Bade

Vision

In a thriving community you have a variety of businesses, open and prosperous. You would find community spaces being used by neighbors, a popular café where the old-timers meet for coffee every morning (I remember when we had that!), and that gathering in the Post Office.  We don’t have a pot-bellied stove, but you can imagine what I mean. I hear the citizens say that Garibaldi is a quaint fishing village. That is the way they say they want this place to be.  And I agree.

All of this requires planning and grants to help the downtown area grow and be prosperous. Then, businesses have competitive reasons to be open regularly and will thrive, because we worked to make the places appealing to residents & tourists alike. Public spaces have to be within walking distance. Bus transportation needs to be available – imagine if it looped the marina!

The City does have some grant projects on the books like the Hwy 101 project that will improve the roadway and walkways, and beautify the downtown area.  There are other opportunities and some grants obtained last year have improved city operations – like the public works meter project that Mayor Tim Hall got implemented! We need to look for more and that opportunity exists!

However, if the City doesn’t have its required financial audits completed it may not qualify for some of those grants. And the City shows up on the Secretary of State’s delinquent list. If you were a grantor and saw a city on that naughty list, would you want to loan them money?

That is the first thing I’d work on – getting the audits completed, the accounting programs working as intended, and financial reports available for management and citizens to use for better decision-making. These items need to be the cornerstones upon which good decisions are made about the City’s future. Planning that includes the financial picture is key to positive results.

In conjunction with the new Retail and Property Association, the Port of Garibaldi and the City can move forward toward that vision.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths – Let me start with the people who make up this community: the ones who show up at Council meetings; the ones who volunteer at city and other functions. They work to keep this city “alive and well.” With their ideas and energy, the City can move forward to take advantage of the other things we have going for us here.

Our location – should be the cutest little fishing village on the coast. With access to the ocean, our visitors are in for a treat, enjoying the climate, the seafood, the fishing.

Weaknesses – The City’s grave financial condition. The state-required audits are two years past due and when we get to January, it will be three years. The unknown of the accounting system; errors over time have caused problems in being able to balance the City’s records dating back to 2019, where during some time periods no discernible accounting was performed. For years, the Council was unable to review financial reports to be able to monitor city spending. Questions revolve around the initial spending of the Fire Levy – was it for personnel or for fire related equipment? This financial condition hinders getting some grants and loans. The City is unable to meet debt covenants.

Our location – we are remote from a major transportation hub – airport, interstate highway, and heavy rail. Certainly, this becomes a consideration in planning.

Opportunities – these abound!

  • City staff – with over 15 years of experience in their respective jobs, the City staff and managers have come together and are working as a team to accomplish goals.
  • Fire and Rescue has opportunities to create a district with our neighboring communities – creating better access to services
  • The Fire Department is creating training facilities that will also be available to other departments.
  • We have a great connection to the Columbia Pacific Economic Development District, as our previous City Manager will become the City’s contact for grants. Many folks in the City have good relationships with Juliet Hyams, and the hope is that grant funding will be the result.
  • The Planning Commission is working toward updates on standards and the comprehensive plan. They have a great group of commissioners – Finn Findling, Bud Shattuck, Carolee North, and Judith Parker – who have the experience and tenacity to get this job done.
  • Val Schumann and Roger Cooper are starting a Retail and Property Association here in town that should help to identity more opportunities to boost businesses in this area.
  • And who knows what the people will dream up to make this more of a quaint fishing village!

Threats – There are some who believe that the biggest threat would be to lose the City’s charter.
But if we don’t harness the financials, we turn into a ghost town.

Positive Contributions

Finances are my main theme this year. I am focused on getting them right. So far this year I have helped the City deal with their auditor findings from the latest audit (fiscal year 2018-2019) and respond to the Secretary of State’s Office with the required Action Plan. Since then I have actively monitored the financial condition and advised on proceeding in getting the next financial audit underway.  Most recently, since this campaign began, I have spent four weeks of time working with Councilor Katie Findling to create a supplemental budget to fund the City’s functions since the resignation of both the City Manager and the Finance Officer. I think I have proven my focus.

On Council I can work with the Budget Committee in a number of ways. For example, by meeting more frequently, the Committee can bring in budget training to help everyone understand the budgeting process or to review city needs to be related to an upcoming budget.  As a Council member I can review financial reports, ask questions and help ensure financial data is used for decision making.  I can continue to “bull-dog” the delinquent audits until they are completed and the city is again meeting its state-required obligations.

After that, there are so many opportunities – exploring grant opportunities, finding ways to work with businesses, working with Val and Roger, watching as the Planning Commission makes progress on updating standards and legislation, finding ways to grow this community and make its face look the part of that quaint fishing village.

Issues Not Addressed

The finances have not been properly addressed in the past, and while progress has been made in some areas, the city’s audits remain outstanding.  It will take more than just hoping that it will turn out ok. It took almost three months to get the financial records to balance so the FY 20 audit could start. That audit is in a holding position for lack of city provided data being available. The city needs to direct resources at getting the current audit completed and the next audit started or it won’t happen.

How Would I Address this Issue?

Directly. These are procedural and technical issues that should have been addressed in the past and that will take a concerted effort to do so now.  I can work with the Council to help guide decisions about correcting this situation. My background as a government auditor, knowledge of accounting and budgeting, ability to understand systems and software can be brought to bear on this situation.

I must say, now that I have completed writing this, I have learned a great deal about myself and my candidacy. Formalizing my thoughts has been very helpful and I have appreciated the opportunity to respond to your questions.

Note:  The Pioneer did not receive answers from the other Garibaldi City Council Candidates.

Norman “Bud” Shattuck

Wendy Woodrum

Laurie Wandell