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THPRD Board hopefuls spar over campaign spending

Cody questions Jones' attendance at meetings


Greg Cody says his opponent has a spotty attendance record for Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District meetings and is spending far too much money than a board of directors position calls for.

Jerry Jones says there’s more to community engagement than sitting in meeting after meeting. He wonders if his opponent is slinging mud because campaign endorsements and contributions Cody sought out went to him instead.

Bill Kanable, the outgoing board member in the position the two men are vying for in the May 21 election, says he’s never seen such money and vitriol expended for what boils down to a wonky, unglamorous-to-the-point-of-boring, unpaid public role.

Welcome to the 2013 park district board election.

Both longtime area volunteers, Cody, who lives in Beaverton, and Jerry Jones, an Aloha resident, are the candidates running for the Position 2 seat two-term board member Kanable plans to vacate when his term expires at the end of June. Citing the need to change his focus and a desire to keep the board fresh, Kanable decided earlier this year he wouldn’t seek a third term.

From almost that very moment forward, it’s been game on in the race between Cody, a credit manager for The Commercial Agency, and Jones, vice president and general manager of Lanphere Construction and Development.

Parks and politics

Cody, 59, serves on the park district’s Budget, Parks Advisory and Sports Advisory committees, the latter along with Jones, 36. He claims his opponent has spent an unprecedented amount of money in his campaign, which he says is fueled by local developers and construction industry heavyweights.

According to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Elections Division, Jones has received $17,675 in cash and in-kind contributions as of Wednesday, while Cody has accumulated $4,512 in cash and in-kind donations. Jones’ largest contributor, Precision Holdings, which owns Precision Body & Paint, donated $2,500; Miller Systems Consultants Inc. donated $1,500, and Madden Industrial Craftsmen Inc. provided a $1,000 contribution. Lois Ditmars, a partner with Barnes Road-based J. Peterkort & Company developers, donated $500.

“His contributions are from land developers, the construction industry, contractors and land holding companies,” Cody says of Jones. “I’m still confused. Why is that industry so big on getting this man elected? When you see his endorsements, there’s a huge political machine not related to the park district at all.”

Cody’s primary benefactor appears to be his own family, with $1,048 contributed by his son, Aaron, and $1,384 from his own pocket. Cody also received $500 from Jon A. McWilliams and $250 from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters.

Wide-ranging constituency

Jones says his endorsements — which include Mayor Denny Doyle and the entire Beaverton City Council — and the amounts of their contributions took him by surprise. The support, he notes, speaks to the faith a range of local professionals have in his experience and background in construction, which he considers an asset when it comes to park and recreation project planning.

“It’s been very humbling to me. I’m blown away at the amount of support I’ve gotten,” says Jones, adding he and his family use park district facilities daily. “A lot of them are just local people who care about people doing good in the community. It’s a testament to the work I’ve been doing in the last 10 years as a volunteer. People know (I’m) a guy that jumps in there, works hard for the community and gets things done.”

He attributes much of the high volume of contributions to the time he’s spent pounding the pavement and knocking on doors.

“This may be the most money ever raised for a park district race,” Jones concedes. “One thing about me, is when I’m passionate about something, I go about something very hard, to the best of my ability. I really care about this seat and believe I’m a great fit for the board.”

Pleased to meet

One area Cody emphasizes as a weakness in his opponent relates to Jones’ meeting attendance record for committees on which he’s served. Minutes from the park district’s System Development Charge Citizen Advisory Committee, a task force that met four times between April 3, 2007, and June 28, 2007, indicate Jones was absent for all but the first meeting.

In his position on the Sports Advisory Committee, Jones attended four of nine meetings held between Nov. 11, 2011, and January 17, 2013.

Cody contrasts Jones’ record with his own, which shows he’s missed no Sports Advisory Committee meetings. Furthermore, he claims he’s attended 84 park district board meetings since 2005, which are held the first Monday of each month at the Howard M. Terpenning Complex on Southwest 158th Avenue.

“My wife has a passion with church, and I have a passion with the park district,” he says. “And we respect that.”

Jones counters that his involvement in a wide range of community organizations and activities forces him to prioritize how to spend his time.

A graduate of the Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Beaverton program, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue’s Community Academy and Beaverton Police Department Citizens Academy, Jones served on the city of Beaverton’s Community Visioning Committee. He’s also been involved as a volunteer with the American Cancer Society, Boy Scouts and HomePlate Youth Services.

If elected, he intends to advocate for a proposed alternative recreation center featuring rock climbing, laser tag and other less mainstream sports-oriented options.

“I realize Greg Cody has attended a lot of board meetings as a member of the audience,” says Jones. “I haven’t attended all of those, but I am involved in the community. My record shows a high level of involvement with patrons of many different segments of the community.”

Cody, who believes his longtime involvement, probing questions in committee roles and interest in listening to park district constituents’ needs make him the best candidate, says he wishes the campaign would take a more substantive tone.

“I wish the whole discussion was about who’s more prepared,” he says, “not who’s spending more money.”

"Absurd" spending

Bill Kanable, who's preparing to depart the board to focus his energies in other areas of the park district, says he's not happy about the amount of money and vitriol the Cody-Jones race has generated. “It's absurd,” he says, noting his only campaign expenditure on his first board run was for the filing fee. “I'm embarrassed about the amount of money being spent on the campaign. It sends bad message, not only to (park district) patrons, but to anybody else who thinks of running for a position like this.”

Kanable, who took the unusual step of endorsing a candidate, Cody, during the May 6 board meeting, said he hopes whoever wins the election understands the often tedious work involved in the role and its decidedly non-political nature.

“We work on park-related financial issues, and understanding policy and operationally what's going on. We're there to be able to effectively serve our constituents. That's the most critical thing that comes out of it.

“I would hope an individual who wants to run and deal with the board would do so, not just to get on a committee,” he adds, “but to work and serve and build that understanding.”




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