Candidate Profile: Bruce Jones

Reprinted from The Daily Astorian

Published on September 28, 2018 12:01AM
Last changed on October 16, 2018 11:37AM

Candidate for mayor of Astoria.

Biographical information

A Coast Guard officer from 1983-2014, I retired in Astoria as a captain and the Columbia River Sector commander. Earlier, I led the USCG’s aviation rescue operations over New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. After 2.5 years as a Columbia River Bar Pilots helicopter pilot, I was elected to the Astoria City Council. I am the deputy director of the Columbia River Maritime Museum. I live with my wife Linda, who coordinates the County Master Gardener program, in a 130-year-old Alderbrook home with our dog, 3 cats and 4 hens. We have 3 sons and 4 grandchildren.

Public service or volunteer positions

Commander of Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, 2011-2014. Chief of Strategic Planning, Washington D.C., 2009-2011. Commander of Sector Lake Michigan, 2006-2009. Commander of Air Station New Orleans, 2004-2006. Various other Coast Guard positions, 1983-2006.

Elected to Astoria City Council, Ward 4, 2016.

Volunteer positions: Board of Directors, Friends of the Astoria Armory since 2014 (two years as president). Board member, United Way of Clatsop County, 2011-2014. Board member, Friends of the Astoria Column, 2014-2016 (resigned to avoid a conflict of interest with the city). Board member, Columbia River Maritime Museum, 2014-2017 (resigned to assume the full-time position of deputy director). I have volunteered at the Lower Columbia Hospice’s annual Race to the Bar fundraiser for 6 years. When my sons were young, I volunteered as a Scout leader.

Why did you choose to run for public office?

My passion for public service was nurtured over three decades as a Coast Guard officer, and a belief that we all have an obligation to give back. I was asked to contribute my experience and skills in leadership, planning, and governance as a city councilor. I did, and it has been a richly rewarding two years volunteering my time and attention to our city’s administration and policy-making.

I’m honored to have been asked by many Astorians to seek election to the critical leadership position of mayor, and contribute my experience and abilities to ensuring Astoria remains a great small city for decades to come. As a Coast Guard leader I learned to listen, collaborate, find common ground and prioritize action with limited resources. I enjoy the challenge of finding workable solutions to complex problems. Governance isn’t easy; if it were, more people would be willing to vie for elected office and face thorny issues for which every solution has both ardent supporters and determined detractors.

Governance is an arena I’m comfortable in. I know I can make a positive difference in the future of our great city, and I’m excited to take on the challenge of serving as mayor.

How would you make a difference if elected?

I intend to lead the City Council in clarifying a vision of what the community wants Astoria to be — and not be — in 25 years, and take deliberate steps to achieve the vision. Astoria has been discovered, and while continued change is inevitable, a proactive and community-engaged city leadership can help manage and guide that change so that we don’t lose the qualities that make us all love Astoria.

The priorities I will focus on as mayor include:

  • Diversifying our economy, aligned with the city’s “Advance Astoria” economic development strategy, and attracting new, living-wage jobs.
  • Adding more housing that Astorians can afford.
  • Preparing for the aftermath of an inevitable, devastating Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami.
  • Ensuring sustainable infrastructure, programs and services for Astorians.
  • Responding to the increase of homelessness.

Focusing on these priorities will contribute to preserving our quality of life. Additionally, I’ll work with community partners to seek ways to encourage and incentivize home-grown business development and discourage outside, corporate, chain-type development that would fundamentally change the unique, working waterfront nature of our city.

Importantly, the mayor must be first and foremost a leader. City Council is Astoria’s policy-making body. The mayor sets the council’s meeting agenda, and thus determines what issues council focuses on. The mayor makes appointments to vital committees, commissions and councils (e.g. the Planning Commission) which play significant roles in shaping our future.

Historically, the mayor’s ability to reach out within the community and, with leverage and influence, to state and federal agencies and the private sector, has been key to progress. The transformation of the abandoned, toxic waste-filled Astoria Plywood Mill site to today’s thriving residential neighborhood is an example of what committed, experienced leadership and partnership can achieve.

The mayor’s representational role is important, but the least consequential of the mayor’s roles. Leadership is what will ensure Astoria doesn’t become another cookie-cutter coastal town. I have spent my professional life learning and practicing the skills required to work effectively with my fellow councilors, community partners, and neighbors, and I am honored to ask to serve as your mayor.