Candidate Q&A: Norm Winters

<p>Winters</p>

Age:?59

Candidate, At-Large

Occupation: Senior vice president, Old West Federal Credit Union

Education: Bachelor’s degree, business, Lewis & Clark College

 

Q: Name one change or improvement to Pendleton you would implement given the power to do so.

A: That is a difficult assignment due to the fact that the citizens of this city are very diligent about trying to solve problems or maximize opportunities that they identify in their midst. One change or improvement I would like to see is the Round-Up Grounds being utilized for more events. Our stadium is a huge asset that could be very instrumental in bringing in more events with a very positive economic impact on the city and surrounding areas. Pendleton is blessed with many attributes that could be packaged or marketed effectively to attract people who are looking for quality of life in where they put down their tent pegs. With a little more focused action we could start to see more knowledge-based businesses coming to Pendleton. This particular subset of business is usually very entrepreneurial in nature and brings livable wages into the community.

Q: What would you have done differently, or what measure would you suggest if elected, to encourage economic development in the city of Pendleton?

A: I think that the city is headed in the right direction in looking to bring in a person with the right skill set to help develop a focused economic development plan. Coupled with that would be a plan to start “economic gardening” in our area. Economic gardening is nothing more than looking at the companies that are providing employment and what ancillary companies that can be induced to move here to create an economic synergy. Examples are the building of the new hospital, InterPath’s new headquarters and the continuing expansion of Keystone RV. All of these companies offer strong economic gardening opportunities.

Q: The municipal airport is proving a drain on city funds. What is your vision for improving the airport over the next five years?

A: There are ongoing discussions right now that would have a very favorable outcome for the airport, but are just in the embryonic stage. I am a great believer that it is never efficacious to try and reinvent a wheel. I would go to other small airports in the area and see what they are doing to help make their facilities more sustainable. Coupled with this I would start talking to owners of aviation businesses to see if there is a niche that we could capitalize on here in Pendleton.

Q: The city manager reports that limits on property tax revenue do not keep pace with city expenses. He asked for a year of spending reserves to allow him to make proposals that will save the city money. Would you agree? Can you identify spending categories where the city can save money?

A: Pendleton is no different than most of the cities in the state! Expenses continue to rise faster than revenues to pay for the expenses. The city manager’s approach is correct in that it is going to take some time to know exactly where the fat is and how it can be excised without harming the rest of the organization. I think an example of running more efficiently is the city police department. Chief Stuart Roberts has been up against the fact of diminishing funds yet still having to maintain a credible and highly effective organization. There are software programs that would allow for the police department to keep track of high areas of crime that can help to utilize the assets of the force with maximum efficiency. These programs are relatively inexpensive and deliver a big bang for the buck! As far as identifying areas, that is what the city manager is going to do over the next 12 months.

Q: What is your position on improvements to Main Street? What elements of the downtown improvement plan do you favor? How would you encourage businesses to open or locate downtown? Is the Rivoli Theater purchase by a nonprofit, with city assistance, a help or hindrance to your ideas?

A: An element of the improvement plan that I favor is merchants having more of a say in the fate of their businesses. After all, their livelihoods are on the line, so who would have more of a vested interest in making sure that the plan is going to succeed? We need to remember that Pendleton is not the west side of the state and something that might work in Eugene may not necessarily have the legs for Pendleton. I think that the Jump Start committee is a step in the right direction to help businesses that are looking to locate in the city center. Jump Start provides low-interest loans and tries to make the whole permitting process more “user friendly.” The restoration of the Rivoli eventually could be a major anchor for the economic vitality of the downtown core area! In order for this to happen there will have to be a melding of good ideas with hard economic facts. Say you put $3,000,000 into refurbishing the theatre but it is only open a couple days per month. You are headed down the road to financial ruin. Any funds expended (either public and or private) must be weighed against the possible payback of those funds. This will take a collection of motivated individuals that share a same vision and have the ability to cast that vision out to the city as a whole.

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