May 2019: An In-depth Look at Heidi Edwards
By Clayton Callahan, Washington County Democrats Communication Committee Member
Heidi Edwards is running for Position 4 on the THPRD Board of Directors.
With numerous awards and a history of community-based leadership, Heidi Edwards is now tackling the challenge of becoming one of our next Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation Directors. This talented woman has already achieved a lot in her career as an educator at Portland Community College. So far, she’s earned a Faculty Ally Award, the Nancy Hargis Award for Leadership in Career Development and most recently the Academic Professional of Distinction for Community Engagement. But taking on the responsibilities of an elected official is new ground for her, so I was delighted when I got the chance to ask her some questions about that.
CALLAHAN: What made you decide to run for the position of THPRD Director?
EDWARDS: Being a patron of the parks system for over twenty years I decided it was time I gave back. I strongly believe in volunteerism and the value of supporting your community. Additionally, I want to bring a fresh, new perspective to the board. I chose to run for Board Position #4 knowing that this position has been held by a 20-year incumbent and that my perspective as a long-time THPRD patron, single parent, educator and community organizer are needed on the board.
CALLAHAN: Among your long list of endorsements, you include the Washington County Democrats. Why did you seek their support?
EDWARDS: I believe strongly in the values of the Democratic Party and have been involved as a Precinct Committee Person and Neighborhood Leader. My first introduction to politics though was through my labor union, AFT-Oregon, so seeking the best for people in my community and holding governmental organizations accountable are positions I’m very comfortable in.
CALLAHAN: Sounds great. On your Facebook page , you advocate for expanding natural space for the parks. How do you intend to go about that?
EDWARDS: I intend to be proactive and partner with Metro regional government, City of Beaverton and Washington County to continue to connect existing natural spaces and expand our opportunities to acquire open and green spaces wherever possible. As we have in the past, THPRD has significant opportunities to partner with Metro in the next few years as they seek to pass bonds that will address transportation, trails, parks and natural spaces. I am proudly endorsed by Metro’s President Lynn Peterson, and Metro Councilors Juan Carlos Gonzalez and Christine Lewis, all who I look forward to working with to make sure THPRD can leverage such opportunities to benefit our community.
CALLAHAN: That’s a straight forward answer. But improvements usually cost money. How do you intend to be a good steward of tax dollars?
EDWARDS: First, I intend to look through the existing $60+ million budget with a fine tooth comb. Serving on the Beaverton School District Budget Committee, which is a little over $1 billion, and administering state and federal grant programs has provided me with the experience to measure costs verses benefits and work toward positive results. Also, I intend to seek out opportunities to combine THPRD resources with other local government and community agencies to leverage our tax dollars, so we get the most bang for our buck.
CALLAHAN: Okay, but things don’t always work out as planned. If you could get just one thing done during your time in office, what would that be?
EDWARDS: I want to see all 250,000 residents in our district become connected to a THPRD program, facility, park or trail that they believe enriches their lives. This includes our low-income and under-served residents. This means we may need to offer new and unique programming, connect with and engage specific communities that have not been accessing THPRD, build our scholarship program, and most importantly keep our activity fees affordable. We have an exceptional parks and rec system that everyone in our community should benefit from and I want to make sure we are providing access and service to all.
CALLAHAN: I think you’re on to something there. But tell me, do you have anything you’d like to add?
EDWARDS: The decision to run for this office has been a long time coming. I’ve been in the process of working toward this seat on the THPRD Board for over a year. We need a board member who will listen to residents, including those who do not use THPRD, and be visionary about our parks and rec district. In the end, I, as do many residents, believe we are blessed to have a well-funded, unique park and recreation district. I intend to do my best to see that the foundation is laid for a great parks system that will serve this community now and for generations to come.
CALLAHAN: Well, that sounds great. I wish you the best Heidi Edwards and good luck on election day, May 21, 2019.
If you are interested in connecting with Heidi’s campaign, visit her website.