Spencer Boudreau and Tom Lee outlined their plans to address homelessness, small business development and other local issues to the Longview Rotary Club on Wednesday.
Boudreau and Lee are running for Longview City Council Position 7, replacing outgoing councilmember Steve Moon. Their discussion was the second candidate forum held by the Rotary Club in the lead-up to the November general election.
Questions about homelessness dominated the forum as much as it had during the event last week with Angela Wean and Chet Makinster. Boudreau said it was the most common priority he heard about while canvassing voters throughout town.
Boudreau opposed the current plan for a hosted and monitored campsite that would be done in partnership between Longview and Cowlitz County. Boudreau said the city should be limiting its support for residents who were not actively seeking change. He also criticized the state programs and service groups which did not have the space or funding to help the people who were trying to leave the camps.
“There are too many people working two or three jobs to make ends meet, but they don’t qualify for the programs that they should,” Boudreau said. “They enter a program for six months, which strings them along to the next and the next.”
Lee said the city should lean on public-private partnerships and ministerial services to take the lead on supporting homeless residents who were seeking improvements. He supported the hosted site plan in theory, but wanted to see a detailed proposal for how the program would operate.
“I would really like to see what it’s going to have. How is it going to help folks that want help and how will they be distinguished from those that don’t want services?” Lee said.
On the peripheries of the discussion, Boudreau and Lee shared more overlapping thoughts. Both agreed mental health resources would be a benefit for many of the residents currently staying at the Alabama Street campsite and were optimistic about the mental health professionals now working with the Longview Police Department.
Questions about the city’s water system also drew similar responses from the candidates. They agreed any change should not be made unilaterally by the City Council, like the transfer to the Mint Valley pumping location had been in 2013, and should be driven by residents who understood what the additional cost might be.
“We need to let the ratepayers decide,” Boudreau said. “There could be a survey on everyone’s water bills asking about this change.”
The candidates cited different forms of experience that prepared them for joining the City Council. Lee was an attorney for landlords and residents in Seattle and he was a city attorney in the Tri-Cities area before returning to Longview.
“We are lucky to live in a community where young folks like myself actually do come back home to support and help serve our community,” Lee said.