By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes
Encouraging a business-friendly environment tops the priority list of Keizer’s unopposed council candidates elected earlier this month.
Lore Christopher won her sixth two-year term as mayor. Councilor Jim Taylor won his third term to Position No. 4, and Councilor Cathy Clark won her second term in Position No. 5. Joe Egli, current president of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce and a local insurance agent, won his first electoral bid in Position No. 5.
Christopher wants to encourage more daytime employment, particularly near Exit 260. And while she didn’t express much hope of an urban growth boundary expansion in the next two years she hopes to lay down the map.
“We don’t have the map today,” she said.
She said she isn’t interested in taking in high-value farmland, “but there are a lot of places with low-grade farmland.”
She, like Clark, are fond of the idea of a corporate business park within the city limits.
And Christopher thinks more daytime employees working in Keizer will encourage more sit-down restaurants to locate here.
“It would be an ideal jumping off point for medical offices working with Portland and Salem,” Christopher said. “We have a terrific location.”
The mayor said zoning will need to be in place to encourage businesses to locate here.
“Businesses want to come to cities who want them,” she said. “… We (should) become an ambassador for business, make sure people know Keizer is open for business, making sure we’re not taking too long to get their building plans approved, working as quickly as possible while also dotting our Is and crossing our Ts.”
Clark, who spent much of her first term working on transportation issues, plans to stay involved in that area, citing a Salem Parkway-KROC Center crossing study along with the Chemawa Interchange Management Plan and a third bridge crossing the Willamette River in the Salem area.
Like Christopher, she wants to encourage business to locate here.
“Cities larger than we, and some smaller … they seek businesses,” Clark said. “They have consultants or other connections that help them know when businesses are looking. They are in contact with the real estate community … Some cities provide incentives.”
She also cited a needto talk about whether and where Keizer’s urban growth boundary should expand. Clark said there would be a need to incorporate as many voices as possible.
“The only way I’ll be able to do that is to take the conversation to other groups and organizations,” she said. “… People are already so busy that unless it really catches their attention, the pressure of family and work will prevail over the mild curiosity about that issue.”
Egli notes a surcharge on cell phones for 911 service will be one of the first big issues facing him as a councilor.
“Our 911 needs help,” Egli said. “It’s going to be very hard for me to approve a new tax. The story has to be very compelling … the logic makes sense but again I’m not a fan of taxes.”
Egli said encouraging more business to locate here would help the existing shops.
“The more businesses we bring, the more people will come and shop at our existing businesses,” he said. “Competition is good for our community and having Keizer be the place to go is great for our community.”