Jeanette Shaw, Tigard City Council – Candidate Interview
Jeanette Shaw loves to go walking in her local park. When she does, she wears her “Jeanette Shaw–Tigard City Council” mask and she finds that when people see the mask, they stop and chat with her about their concerns. “They feel engaged and able to communicate,” she says. This is no surprise–Jeanette’s campaign is all about listening to her community.
What inspired her to run for Tigard City Council? “Really, it’s to listen, to listen, to listen, and to really help minimize this divide between the folks on the left and folks on the right.” Jeanette believes that dialogue and conversation is the way to find solutions for making the City of Tigard a thriving and successful place.
But in a time of such intense polarization–with everything from GOP walkouts in the state legislature to a President who seems to enjoy dividing Americans–how do you bring people together across political and social divides? “Start at the local level. Provide examples of how you can have communication, and that’s not by walking out, and it’s not by speaking over the other person. People on the left and the right can come together and provide opportunities so that Tigard can prosper over the next 30-40 years. You have to know how to create compromise, which will lead to success. The outcome may not work for everyone, but it’s not a lose-lose situation either.”
“Our job is to reach every corner of Tigard,” Jeanette notes.
Here is where an unexpected silver lining of the lockdown comes in. “Who would’ve thought you could attend city council meetings on Zoom, where people can call in about an issue that’s important to them, and then just drop off the call when they need to.” Jeanette is aware that Tigard is mostly a bedroom community with busy residents who may not have the time to participate in their local government, and her main goal is to make sure that people feel included. “When people don’t know something, they feel afraid, so it’s important to make them feel comfortable. When they feel comfortable, they will engage. Now, we can reach so many people who couldn’t take the time to join previously or who did not have transportation to get to City Hall.”
“Those folks have unique ideas and lived histories that other people don’t have, and that’s where I get really excited, that’s where I can work with them to come up with creative solutions.”
So what are the most pressing issues that her Tigard neighbors want to talk to her about? “When will there be a cure or vaccine for COVID? How do we ensure economic stability if we have an administration change–or when the current administration doesn’t want to admit it’s lost?” Jeanette states many people she talks to are worried about that second scenario, because it would affect our economic stability. But there are other concerns as well. “Ensuring that we can be inclusive and not be exclusive–that really resonates with folks. They want to be friendly, they want to be neighborly. There’s a fear that that may not continue. Tigard has a small-town feel and people want to maintain that as we grow.”
And that desire for inclusivity is one of the things which connects Jeanette closely to the Democratic Party. When asked how her values and the values of the party align, she states: “The need and appreciation of diversity, equity, inclusion–gender, racial and age-related, the inclusion of people with disabilities–that everyone feels included. And that should be the same for the city of Tigard.” Again, it’s about dialogue. “Mutual respect–that’s how you have communication. Not, I don’t know you and I don’t wanna know you, so I’m gonna put my hand up and not wanna talk to you.”
Jeanette’s political career started as a legislative aide working on transportation issues, and transportation is still one of her main policy interests–specifically, transportation electrification. “Within Oregon, and within the US, transportation is the second-highest cost for families, and it’s 40% of fossil fuel carbon emissions,” she explains. “This is how you boost economic development for the city and reduce health care costs like treatment for asthma. Electric and fuel cells (hydrogen) reduce dependency on gas, and help us keep more money in our pockets.” She is very excited about the Tigard Triangle, which is a new development project investing in affordable housing, office space, and transportation improvements in a 550-acre area in the northeastern corner of Tigard. Among other things, the Tigard Triangle will give drivers on 217 and I-5 the option to use charging infrastructure for hybrid or electric vehicles. Jeanette is also interested in electrifying city vehicles, and giving drivers incentives to use charging infrastructure, much like the state of California does.
What are her thoughts about policing and public safety in Tigard?
“Police are vital. We are fortunate–we have an excellent chief who is willing to reframe the approach to policing, so there can be more emphasis on training. I look forward to working with her to reframe policing so that everyone can feel safe in our community. The chief has done a phenomenal job in acknowledging that the current state of affairs is not where it should be and that her profession has been harmed by the actions of a few.” Once again, it’s important to her that the process of making change brings the community together rather than creating a new divide.
And what are the most crucial issues facing the Tigard school system?
“Certainly the immediate one is student resource officers/SROs, which is something that has concerned the community.” She is also looking forward to the end of the pandemic–” where we can get back to the classroom, where each child regardless of race, and whether they identify with a white affiliation or a BIPOC affiliation, can get the same education and get it in person, which would be terrific.” Jeanette believes that bringing students back to in-person schooling helps level the playing field, helps them learn communication skills…and helps turn them into future problem-solving city councilmen and women.
We live in difficult times, but Jeanette will keep walking and keep talking to her neighbors. These days, she says, “I’ve noticed people taking more time to speak to other people, putting their electronic devices down.”
“We can take what has turned out to be this turbulent time and turn it into something positive.”
Learn more about Jeanette Shaw, Candidate for Tigard City Council, at her campaign website.