Pendleton clerk-treasurer candidates outline priorities

Nov. 6—PENDLETON — Stabilizing utility costs, maintaining adequate funding for infrastructure and quality-of-life measures, and ensuring that continued growth doesn't generate adverse financial consequences for the town's residents are among the priorities shared by both candidates for Pendleton's clerk-treasurer office.

Democrat Joe Noel is challenging incumbent Republican Willie Boles for the position, which is charged with overseeing the town's finances and keeping public records current. Noel said he sees the job as independent from any political concerns town officials or residents may have.

"Issues are not at the core of the clerk-treasurer's job," Noel said. "It's about tone setting. I want to be a diligent record keeper, kind of a guardian of transparency, and doing that means setting a tone for communication with the public. That tone should be open and transparent, with civility."

Boles, who is running for a second term as clerk-treasurer after being elected in 2019, said he would like to update procedures in his office to streamline the process of providing financial and other information to residents.

"We would like to get all the material and everything we have that people call for...available online so they can check records and anything else they need to check," Boles said.

He noted that the town's leaders have prioritized planning for growth responsibly, and doing so carries financial considerations.

"We have to figure what it's going to cost to furnish people with the amenities we need," Boles said. "The added growth increases traffic and affects everything that we do. You've got to keep your eye on the money and make sure we grow at the right pace and make sure we have the money that's needed for these new developments."

Noel, a co-founder of the Friends of Falls Park, a nonprofit group that lobbies for local park improvements and upkeep, said he was glad to see a 16% increase in funding for the town's parks and recreation department including in the recently adopted budget for 2024.

Falls Park, he said, "has been a catalyst for growth and identifying what the town is all about."

He said he also supports the town's ordinance mandating impact fees totaling approximately $13,000 for each new residential lot developed in designated impact zones. The fees are collected to offset infrastructure costs and fund park improvements.

A federal lawsuit filed by the developer of two housing additions near town alleges that state laws pertaining to those fees were not followed when the ordinance was passed.

"I think we should stay pretty firm with the impact fees that we have in place now," Noel said. "I think people who are wanting to move to the town should bear the burden of the impact it would have on the town. That burden should not go to the current residents."

Follow Andy Knight on Twitter @Andrew_J_Knight, or call 765-640-4809.