Vote will fill four seats on Woodland City Council

Jennifer Heffernan up for re-election for Position 1

and Adam Littman, Columbian Staff Writer

Published:

 

Position No. 1 candidates

Janice Graham

Age: 69.

Occupation: Retired hairdresser and salon owner.

Offices held/leadership positions: secretary, Woodland Chamber of Commerce, and vice president, Planters Days Committee.

Jennifer Hefernan

Age: 43.

Occupation: homeschooling mother of six and proofreader.

Offices held/leadership positions: Woodland City Council, 2014-present, precinct committee officer, 2012-2016.

Position No. 2 candidates

DeeAnna (Bob Motep) Holland

Age: 47.

Occupation: operations manager.

Offices held/leadership positions: board member and volunteer, Woodland Action Center Food Bank.

Carol Rounds

Age: 68.

Occupation: retired bank branch manager.

Offices held/leadership positions: Woodland City Council, 2004-2005.

There are four Woodland City Council seats up for grabs in Tuesday’s election.

Current Councilor Jennifer Heffernan will seek re-election against Janice Graham for Position No. 1, DeeAnna (Bob Motep) Holland and Carol Rounds are running for Position No. 2, Dave Plaza and Nate Cook are up for Position No. 3 and Councilor Benjamin Fredricks will run for re-election in Position No. 6 against Jeremy Heffernan, who dropped out of the race but will still appear on the ballot, according to The Daily News.

Position No. 1

Both candidates for the seat outlined some of the same major issues facing Woodland.

“Infrastructure, transportation, jobs and housing are always big concerns for the city,” Graham wrote in an email. “I do believe that these issues are being addressed, so getting educated on the proper steps that need to be taken is a positive move forward. We need to keep that work moving in the right direction.”

Heffernan sees these issues as related, as she wrote in an email that business growth is dependent on having proper infrastructure.

“The growth both within and surrounding our city has increased traffic, and Exit 21 has become a major issue,” she wrote. “The city has obtained funds from the state to begin studying this area to determine what can be done to alleviate the congestion. The Scott Avenue reconnect is another traffic item that the city has identified as a priority. The preliminary studies have been completed, and the mayor and council have spoken with our state representatives and will continue to do so. The $80-90 million needed to complete that project needs to come from a partnership with the state.”

There are a few levies up for vote in the election, as well. One is a levy lift lid for law enforcement, which would fund the hiring of two officers and a sergeant and their equipment. If passed, that would increase property taxes by an estimated 78 cents per $1,000 assessed property value. Both candidates wrote that they are in favor of the lift lid.

The other item is a 0.2 percent sales tax increase through the city’s transportation benefit district, which means the funds raised can be used only for transportation projects. The district ran a vote on the 0.2 percent sales tax increase in the November 2016 election, and it was voted down with 51.56 percent of voters coming out against it.

Graham wrote that she’s in favor of it, as “we need to be able to keep roads maintained.” Heffernan wasn’t in favor of the measure last year, she wrote, because the money coming in from the sales tax was estimated to bring in $270,000 a year, which would go to general fund. The city was then going to take $240,000 from the general fund to use for public safety, making the net gain from the sales tax around $30,000 instead of the full $270,000, she wrote. This year, Heffernan is neutral, as the plan is to use the money entirely for identified transportation projects.

“The police have a separate levy lid lift on the ballot for their funding so the two are not intertwined, which is a much clearer and honest way to request the voter’s approval for funding,” she wrote.

Position No. 2

Holland wrote in an email that she thinks the biggest issue facing Woodland the city’s “understaffed and underfunded Woodland Police Department.” Because of that, Holland wrote, she is in favor of the levy lift lid for law enforcement.

She is not in favor of the sales tax through the transportation benefit district, though. Holland also opposed the vote last year.

“Our infrastructure is dismal due to years of neglect, and we should be looking at every opportunity for funding before raising taxes and fees on an already struggling community,” she wrote. “The voters did not approve this last year. No means no.”

Rounds wrote in an email that she is in favor of the both measures, as well as a measure from the Woodland Swimming Pool and Recreation District asking residents to approve a general obligation bond to help fund a swimming pool and community center.

“The time is right for all of these issues, and I believe the voters have a right to make that decision,” she wrote. “However, I also believe if we can stimulate economic growth the cost to our citizens will be much less.”

Rounds, who was appointed to the council in 2004 and finished out the term for a councilor who moved out of the city, wrote that she thinks the city should focus on industrial development, which can provide family-wage jobs and an increased tax base.

“I believe it will help revitalize the Woodland downtown area if we reduce fees and regulations,” she wrote.

Holland wrote that she thinks there are some things that can be done to help out the city’s finances before looking outward.

“I have actually seen it suggested that we annex more into the city, build luxury homes, bring in big business all to generate more tax revenue all of which would add more stress to our aging infrastructure,” she wrote. “The citizens of Woodland are tapped out with the continual increases in everything they need to live like rent, food, gas and utilities. I saw recently someone in the community suggest a salary freeze on City Hall until we can get a handle on things and it’s a great suggestion.”

Other races

The races for Position No. 3, between Cook and Plaza, and Position No. 6, between Fredricks and Jeremy Heffernan, were both covered before the August primary.