Mayor Sue Wilson was appointed mayor of Rockaway Beach at the May 8 city council meeting by a vote of the council. Mayor Wilson has plans for the small town, which include keeping the feel of a small town. Since she was appointed mayor, she has learned a lot and plans to do more as her time as mayor.
Wilson moved to Rockaway Beach in 2005. In 2007, she entered politics. She was elected to the council and ultimately ran for reelection four years later for the next term. She was subsequently voted president of the council, which is the person who steps up to lead the meeting when the mayor is absent. This helped Wilson step into the role of mayor.
“There is a learning curve,” said Wilson. “I’m learning more and more every day.”
There are always two sides to everyone story, says Wilson. She likes to look for the reasoning behind people’s opinions and decisions. If a council member abstains from voting, she always asks them why.
Wilson says that she acts as a referee at times. She can’t use her personal opinions to make decisions. She has to make decisions for the people. She has to remain neutral. The only time the mayor is allowed to vote is if there is a tie. Wilson hasn’t had to do a swing vote yet.
The mayor position will be up for reelection in November 2020. The mayor before had finished about half of her term before Wilson took over.
Wilson mentions some events coming up in the town. There will be the kite festival at Rockaway Beach Wayside in August. It is a chamber of commerce sponsored event and the city will be 100 percent behind it.
One of the city’s major concerns is the Wayside’s parking. People park RV’s and trailers and think it is an appropriate place to park. Wilson says they are going to be dealing with this issue with signage in the near future.
There is a concern of children dashing out into the street and parking in general. Parking in Rockaway Beach is limited. The town has one parking lot which can’t be accessed by vehicles coming from the south. Wilson’s hope for the parking lot is for people to be able to park for an hour or so, enjoy the beach, and leave so others can find a parking space. The city isn’t able to manufacture any more parking because the space for it isn’t available.
“We think we manage our resources well. There is always room for improvement no matter where you live or what you do,” said Wilson.
The council passed an ordinance in 2016, indicating that no one would be able to request usage of the Wayside three weekends of the year. These holidays are Labor Day, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July.
“We want to give people a place to be,” said Wilson.
People go to Rockaway Beach for the Fourth of July from the north and south. The train from Garibaldi this year was packed. Wilson thinks the train ride was a great idea because people didn’t have to worry about the parking situation and could even stay on the train to watch fireworks if they wished.
At the end of her time as mayor, Wilson wants to believe that she made a difference. One of her major goals is the completion of the Nature Preserve Trail. The Walkway just had their grand opening on June 15. A grant from the Department of Land Conservancy and Development paid for a deck to be built around the giant Western Red Cedar, which helps protect the tree and its roots.
Working with the department heads is Wilson’s favorite part about being the mayor. She likes being on the ground floor on making decisions. She meets with the City Manager the week before a meeting so that everything will be ready for the next meeting.
The next election for mayor is in November 2020. Wilson isn’t sure if she will reelect or not. She owns a business in the town and is just beginning a new adventure with her daughter: a waffle food truck that will serve different variations of waffles. She will be serving these at the Tillamook County Fair this year.