Beach Pace is running for Hillsboro City Council, Ward 1 Position A. That position is currently held by Darell Lumaco, who is term limited. Pace’s opponent in this race is Eric Muehter.

We set out to ask every city council candidate the same five questions. Here’s what Pace had to say.

Why do you want to get involved with city politics?

I see it as a continuation of my service. I went to West Point, I served in the army, I worked in corporate America (which is not service), and I’ve been in social change work for ten years. (I don’t like to say nonprofit, because that says what we don’t do; I like to say what we actually do, and that’s social change.)

I have executive level experience—I’m the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Northwest. And I already volunteer here in Hillsboro, and I serve on the Planning Commission. City council seemed like the natural next step, and a whole lot of people were asking why I’m not running—neighbors, colleagues, friends that I’ve volunteered with. When I started thinking about it I reached to Councillor Kyle Allen, and he met with me.

I’ve been working with Emerge, which encourages women to run for office. I heard an interview with the woman who runs Emerge Oregon as I was sitting in traffic on 26. She was asking the question: why do more men run than women? I’m sitting there, dying of heat, and she goes, “because men just wake up and say yeah, I should run,” while women have to be asked. And I had been asked over, and over, and over again. So I’m sitting in my car, and I’m like “There is no excuse. There’s no excuse.”

So it was a bunch of things that came together. Before I moved to Hillsboro I lived in California, and people there told me then that I should run. I saw women run and they were getting raked through the coals, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through that. It was a full on, month long family discussion. If somebody has an issue with me, because I’m gay, fine. But it’s another thing if you go after my kids. I have a sixth grader and an eight grader, so they’re the ones who might have to bare the brunt of this. I was worried about that.

What do you think is the biggest problem facing our city right now? What would you do about it?

I think the biggest concern is housing. I’m on the Planning Commission, so I’ve learned a lot. Our housing inventory is very low. We need more housing at all levels; affordable housing obviously, but mid-level housing as well, senior housing, just the gaunlet. The inventory is ridiculously low, so that puts the pressure on renters and buyers. 51% of Hillsboro residents are renters. I think that’s our biggest concern right now.

I come from an area, San Jose, where they had the nation’s highest percentage of fully employed homeless people. They lived in shelters, with their families, they get up, get their kids dressed and ready for school, then go to work. If we don’t get any inventory, we’re going to go there. We’re going there right now. A person making minimum wage can’t get an apartment right now. That’s not okay.

I believe this has a trickle down effect. Let’s take a family of four. If they have pressure on themselves for housing, the first inclination is to not move, it’s to get another job. So now you have parents working two jobs. They’re not home, so the kids are unattended after school. That’s the must vulnerable time for a kid. They’re not going to be engaged in after school programs, like soccer. They’re stuck in the apartment, the parents get home late, the kids eat later, there’s no one there to help them with homework, they’re eating terribly, they go to school the next day, they’re disruptive.

I think it connects to the housing, it connects to transportation. When housing prices go up, staying or moving is the question. Eventually people have to move, further and further out of Portland. If they keep their job, their commute time is increased, and you’re adding cars to the road. Transportation, education, business, the quality of your employees. It’s like an octopus. It’s all connected.

What do you think Hillsboro should be doing in order to offer more affordable housing?

I think there’s a couple things they can do. The city could buy land, and deal with social change organizations. I think there could be a public-private partnership. I endorse Measure 102 and the Metro bond.

The other thing: we should implement inclusionary zoning. On the planning commission a builder came to the city, and they proposed a 445 unit apartment complex, in SoHi (South Hillsboro). None of those units were put aside for affordable housing units. If we had inclusionary zoning we could say a percentage of affordable units is required.

Under this policy a certain percentage of housing projects would have to be affordable, but it’s also about working with the businesses, the developers, maybe giving them tax breaks to offset the costs. We want to work with people. I think people vilify business, but small business employs 95 percent of Oregonians. It’s super easy to say “we go to the builders and say you have to have a certain percentage,” but the builders have to make a profit. My mom was a small business owner…it’s stupid and short sighted to not work with businesses.

The current housing market is great for the Intel folks, but what about everyone else? We need to make sure people who make minimum wage can live here.

Would you prefer to serve on the Finance or Transportation committee? Why is that?

I’m very interested in both. I love tracking the money, I love following it, and I think transportation is a huge piece here. If I have to pick right now I’d say finance.

Every time I follow the dollars I find a reason for something. When I was with a social change organization in San Jose I took over a site, and I was conveniently not told that the site was $775,00 in debt. I was not told this during my interview process. So in the first week I find this out, and I went home and I told my wife “I have to quit.”

No, she said. You go back to work and you fix it.

So I did, I dug deep, I saw where some money was going and it wasn’t toward the mission. There was money going to headquarters that didn’t have to be, and there was money not coming to us from headquarters. The more I dug, the more money I found. I’m not saying I solved the problem, but the more I dug the more I learned. I realized what we needed to cut, I realized what I needed to bolster, I realized all those things. I had five years to pay off the debt, and I did it in two.

What you see isn’t always where all the money is going. And so I’d like to know more about where the money is going. Not because I think anything nefarious is happening, I’m just curious. I like to do my research.

Is there a question I didn’t ask that you wish I did? Answer it!

Why I think I’m more qualified than my opponent. And the answer is preparation, experience, and my endorsements. The entire city council has endorsed me, the Mayor has endorsed me. My sign is in Fred Nachtigal’s lawn, right alongside Bob Terry.

That crosses party lines, but I don’t care about that. I went to West Point. There’s an Annapolis grad running in Virginia and she was asked about partisan politics. She said, “whenever anybody got in my helicopter, I didn’t ask them about their party affiliation.” My mission, as a city councillor, is to make policy that serves the residents of this city. Period. Partisanship is not relevant. Service is.

I think it’s very insulting to a constituency that people think they can show up at the 11th hour, run for this position without any preparation, and do a good job. It’s like showing up to do surgery and saying “Well, I know how to cut a steak.” You’re not ready.

I sat down with every sitting city councillor, I sat down with the mayor. I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing, and I was making the right decision. It gave me a chance to learn, and to make an informed decision about running.

More about Beach Pace