Q & A with Councilor Tom Andersen

Cost prohibitive'’ to add police and library together on bond

Last week we sat down with Councilor Tom Andersen to ask about his support for the ballot measure (Measure 24-420) to build a new police center. Here is what he had to say:

Friends of Salem Police: You supported the initial effort to get the police facility passed back in November, correct?

Councilor Tom Andersen: I certainly [did], even as I had some concerns about the price. We really need a new police station. Our police are working in medieval conditions. It is not at all conducive to good law enforcement, and we have an extremely excellent police force, from the chief on down. They need to work in an appropriate and safe building.

The voters decided, and the voters spoke to us. We have reduced the amount of the police station bond by almost 25 percent. There was a real concern with cost, but I also think there were concerns about the ability to seismically retrofit and earthquake-proof the City Hall campus. That became pretty much cost prohibitive to add the bond issues together. But as another show that the city leaders have heard what the people had said, at the same time we put the police station bond on the May ballot we also passed a resolution to put on the November ballot a bond measure to seismically retrofit the library, which is extremely needed. We just didn’t want to say, “Oh, we’ll do it some time.” We wanted to show a concrete resolution and that we were actually committed to taking that action. So, by the end of this year if things go the way they should, we will have a bond for a new police station and a bond to seismically retrofit the library.
FSP: At least on paper, this should satisfy a majority of Salem residents.
TA: I agree. From my personal perspective, the two reasons the [November] bond measure lost – by only four points – was number one the cost, and we’ve addressed that -- and number two was the fact that the City Hall campus was not retrofitted. And so we’ve done both those things. I’m very confident the bond issue will pass, because, realistically, all we needed was to get a three-point swing. The things we did in response should convince the voters that this is the best thing we can do for the future of the City of Salem.
FSP: Do you believe the O’Brien Auto site is the best of all locations for the police headquarters? And what impact will it have on the surrounding neighborhoods?
TA: I do. It’s centrally located. It is in area that needs some rejuvenation. And I think it is going to make the area more attractive to businesses and maybe even some mixed-use or housing developments, because you’ll have the police station right there. That’s normally a safe space. It will provide a big boon by transforming what is now just a big empty lot. It will be a terrific area for the police station, and its location will provide easy access to all parts of Salem.
FSP: What has been your answer to critics who ask, “Why take a piece of property like that off the tax rolls?”
TA: There’s no city property that we own now that has the location, the size and other things you need to build a police station. Any place we go we’re going to have to be taking property off the tax rolls. But I think what will happen is that as the area develops, we will more than make up the property tax revenue that we’ll be missing from the new police site by the development of the other sites all around it. So the money we collect from taxes will actually go up because of the police station.

How volunteers can help

Volunteers had a fun time Friday waving campaign signs and raising the visibility to the commuters about the proposed Salem police center. Lots of thumbs up from drivers and passersby. We will be sign waving again this Friday, May 5. Please join us.

Thursday evening May 4 we will be phone banking, and we need five more volunteers to round out our team. We will be making calls to high propensity voters encouraging them to vote Yes on the public safety center and return their ballots on time. A script will be provided for the calls, along with some nibbles and beverages. We could sure use more volunteers. Details are below.

Phone Banking Thursday, May 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m.; Windermere-Pacific West Property Management, LLC, 4285 Commercial St SE, Suite 100. Kelly Greens Office Park, across the street from Natural Grocer.

Sign Waving Friday, May 5, 7-8 a.m.: Ferry and Liberty streets (corner of the Grand Hotel) and
Trade and Liberty streets (corner of Bentley’s)
Sign Waving Friday, May 5, 4:45-6 p.m.: Wallace Road and Glenn Creek Rd NW (parking lot of US Bank) and Wallace Road and Edgewater Rd NW (corner where Crown Realty is located)
Phone Banking Wednesday, May 10, 5:30-7:30 p.m.; Amerititle, corner of Chemeketa and Church streets NE
Sign Waving Friday, May 12, 7-8 a.m.: Market and Lancaster NE (park in the Fred Meyer parking lot and walk to intersection) and Mission and 25th streets SE (park in the Kmart parking lot)
Sign Waving Friday, May12, 4:45-6 p.m.: Owens and Commercial streets SE and Owens and Liberty streets SE
Sign Waving Monday, May 15, 4:45-6 p.m.: Marion Street Bridge (TJ Maxx parking lot) traffic headed west into Polk County; and Center Street Bridge (TJ Maxx parking lot) traffic headed east into Marion County; Kuebler and Commercial streets SE (parking on Boone Road near Arby’s); and Vista and Commercial streets SE (parking in Roth’s)
To volunteer and help with these activities, contact Raquel Moore-Green, volunteer coordinator, at 503.362.5021 phone or text or email to mooregreenrc@gmail.com.
Ballots are in the mail! Be sure to vote Yes on 24-420 and return ballots by May 16. Ballot drop sites are listed on pages 4 and 5 of the Marion County Voter Pamphlet, or they may be mailed in.