LONG BEACH - Before the Sept. 16 mayoral primary election, the Chinook Observer sent a list of questions to all candidates for Mayor and Long Beach City Council. The responses from the Mayoral candidates appeared in the Sept. 3 issue of the Observer.
It was our hope that candidates would send in their written responses in a timely fashion so they could be printed before second week of October. The Observer contacted all candidates, but at this time we have only received responses from three candidates for city council. Answers from Council Candidate Betty Ahern, Councilman Fred Cook, Candidate T. Joseph Strubelt appear below.
Responses from Councilmen Gordon Zuern and Ralph Moore were not received by press time.
1. Please give a short description of your background and professional qualifications.
Betty Ahern: High school graduate in 1961, attended Clark College (2 year program), Washington licensed real estate broker, 1 year on city of Long Beach planning commission, 35 years of owning and managing rental property, 10 years of building designing and building construction, 16 years doing business in the city of Long Beach, two approved classes on city council, and planning commission responsibilities.
Fred Cook: My name is Fred Cook and I am running for the 4-year term, position No. 1 of the Long Beach City Council.
I grew up locally and graduated from Ilwaco High School in 1960. My wife, Patricia and I spent some 30 years in Seattle where I took Woodlawn Optical from a small basement business to a modest four-store, mini-chain, working in partnership with my father-in-law Ray W. Bailey. During those years in Seattle, I served as president of the Wedgwood Chamber of Commerce, president of the Opticians' Association of Washington, and chaired the Board of Examiners for Opticians, serving at the discretion of the governor of the state of Washington.
Since moving back to the peninsula, eight years ago, I've served on the State Parks Task Force, the Long Beach Planning Commission and chaired the Ocean Beach Education Foundation alumni donor campaign. I am currently serving out the remainder of Don Maxson's term as council position No. 1.
T. Joseph Strubel: I moved here from Texas in 1991. Like a lot of people that served in the U.S. Military during Vietnam, I had a lot of problems when I came back. We fought a war that no one wanted to fight and no one would take responsibility for. It created a lot of problems in my life. I put that behind me and moved to Long Beach looking to make a new start. When I came her I was homeless, and you can see what God has done for me. As far as qualifications, I am not a politician. I think the last thing this town needs is another politician. I think they need somebody that has some new ideas for changes that need to be made.
2. Why are you running?
Ahern: I am running for city council to see if I can make a difference, to see if we can make less regulations, to keep our residents better informed on council agenda and to learn to listen to the needs and concerns of our businesses and residents.
Cook: I have enjoyed my work as a member of the Long Beach planning commission and as a city councilman. As such, I hope to remain on the council and continue the work that I've started.
Strubel: I want to do my part to pay back a community that helped me so much.
3.What are the three most important issues facing the town, and how do you propose to deal with them?
Ahern: Convention center - we need to take a second look; sign regulations - we need to listen to our citizens and our business and not just start making more rules and regulations; restrictive zoning - we need more choices in the types of buildings and the types of siding we put on our buildings and should not being forced to put on 80 percent shingle siding.
Cook: With our city in the position of experiencing an expansion in private homes and itinerant housing, I believe decisions that are made in the next couple of years will have to be critically considered regarding the long-term effects on our environment citizens quality of life, and business enhancement.
Strubel: Number one is not having a permanent police chief. I think Flint Wright is doing a good job, and if he is qualified, then I think he should be the permanent police chief.
The city is getting carried away with some of the regulations that they are forcing the small business people to comply with in order to do business here. I think the business license fees are too high, and if I were elected I would try to change that. I think $50 a year would be better than $125 a year.
4. Ideally, what about the town will improve after your term in office?
Ahern: Have a better informed City on what is being voted on that concerns us and not having to go to every city council meting to be informed of issues before the council. No surprises when you go to get a permit. Have handouts to show the current regulations.
Cook: No answer was given.
Strubel: Number one, I think there needs to be a transient center. A lot of people come here looking for work, and when they are not able to find any, they are left homeless and stranded. There is nowhere for them to go. I don't know of anyplace that is set up for victims of domestic violence. There is no place for people to go if they are having a problem and need to escape. I would try to set up a program for these people who have no place to go.
5. Are there immediate changes you would try to make? Explain.
Ahern: Try and get some of the zoning ordnance more in line with what the citizens want. Get the Chinook Observer to print the City Council agenda before for every meeting.
Cook: No answer was given.
Strubel: I would try to put a stop to the enforcement of the cedar shingles. I would try to lower the cost of doing business in Long Beach. Many small businesses can't afford to pay the licensing fees along with what they have to pay to the state. It cost more to get licensed by the city that it does to get licensed by the state.
6.How would you balance the needs and desires of the townspeople with the needs and desires of the downtown business community?
Ahern: We need to listen to our residents and our business people and try and work out what they want and need to live together in harmony. We are a very small area and we depend a lot on each other
we need to unite and work together.
Cook: I feel that sometimes our citizens have felt disenfranchised of their input to city hall and that if elected, it would be my desire to change that feeling to one of mutual cooperation between the townspeople and THEIR government Probably the most important immediate change I would like to see achieved, would be that open approachable relationship.
Strubel: Number one, businesses need to cater more to the people that live here. They are the ones that are going to support your business during the months of no tourism. You have to finds a way to keep people shopping here rather than Astoria or Warrenton. We live here. We should have top priority in there minds.
7. What is your position with regard to development of large-scale resort complexes, time-share condos and similar facilities within town?
Ahern: I think we need to address the vote of the people and not just push ahead with or without them. I personally feel small planed unit developments can look as nice as a bunch of 4-plexes on a lot.
Cook: Although I believe one day Long Beach will have a major destination resort with upscale facilities, I certainly do not feel it is necessary to "give away the farm" to achieve this. When it pencils out as profitable for such a resort to be located here. I'm convinced it will happen. Until then, I'm willing to wait.
Strubel: Why would we want to hurt our local people that have put everything they own into their hotels and motels? They can't even keep those filled.
There is a shortage of working people here. People who would man these places. Where are we going to get these people from? Out of town? That is just killing ourselves.
A convention center by itself will do no good what-so-ever. You have to have something for those people to do when they come here, and right now, we have nothing. If we are going to put in convention center, they might as well go ahead and bring in a casino. Look at Lincoln City. Chinook Winds made that whole town boom. It would create jobs and the rest would fall into place.
8. What is you management philosophy in dealing with the town's crew and City Hall employees?
Ahern: There isn't much issue there so far I have felt the City has been easy to work with and seems to care very much of there image and how they treat us.
Cook: I believe that in our council - mayor - administrator form of government it is the council's responsibility to establish policy regarding employees, but that it is the mayor and administrator's responsibility to carry out those policies.
Strubel: The top priority should be the town. We should stop paying outside entities any money to tell us that our signs should look one way. That decision should be left up to the individual person that paying for the sign. We should quit trying to look like everybody else, like some one thinks we ought to be.
I know there have to be some types of rules and regulations, but if it is not totally out of hand and they can pay for it, it should be allowed. People running the businesses know more about running businesses than city hall.
City hall should not be there to run businesses, they should be there to take care of the streets and water and the sewer.
We need someone on the city council that will put the business owner before themselves.
9. Is there anything else you would like to say?
Ahern: Our elected officials need to listen to the citizens of our city. We need to continue with education so our elected officials learn how to conduct themselves professionally and within the codes of the
city of Long Beach, not their personal likes and dislikes. We need to remember we are the voice of our business, our citizens and our registered voters.
Cook: I think that my most important qualifications for this office are my concern for our townspeople and their quality of life, and my passion for our town and the Long Beach Peninsula as a whole.
Strubel: I am not a politician, and I am not trying to be a politician. I'm just a person that sees a need. I decided to throw my hat in just to make a difference. This town has done a lot for me. I would not be here if it was not for this town. I love Long Beach and the people in it. I'm tired of seeing the small business people get pushed around.