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New councilor channels civic engagement into action

Mark Fagin joins City Council at Jan. 8 meeting


by: TIMES PHOTO:JONATHAN HOUSE - Mark Fagin, who starts his official term as a Beaverton City Councilor at the Jan. 8 meeting, discusses his new role in a City Hall conference room in December. As a longtime civic-minded volunteer and advocate for Beaverton, Mark Fagin recognizes the fluid nature behind informed decision making.

“What you want is for elected officials to continue to educate themselves,” he says. “And that might mean they change their minds.”

Fagin plans to bring along the pragmatism and open-mindedness he’s honed as an engaged Beaverton citizen since 1995 as he officially steps into the Beaverton City Council Position 3 seat this week. He was elected last May to fill the position Cathy Stanton held for 19 years before she decided not to seek another term after 2012.

President of Gaston Sales Inc., a silicon and semiconductor component business, Fagin has been a constant Tuesday night presence at council meetings for the past several months. After absorbing volumes of information and opinions regarding a new public safety facility, urban renewal, mixed-use developments and numerous other plans, Fagin says he’s ready to hit the ground running on long-range decisions the council will consider in 2013.

“The way we run elections in Beaverton for the council and mayor, it can be a long wait,” he says of the gap between his May election and inauguration to the council on Jan. 8. “There’s been a lot of time to prepare, which has been great. There’s a lot going on.”

A former longtime member of the city’s Visioning and Steering committees as well as the Planning Commission, Fagin says he’s learned to pick up and draw out conversation-changing nuances from fellow committee members and citizen spectators.

“I like to listen to everybody,” he says. “On the Visioning Committee, I learned to pick up on changes in body language, someone moving in a certain way. When I notice that, I try to say, ‘What did you want to add?’ I like having input from a lot of people.”

New blood

Coming into his first elected role, Fagin feels the council is a logical next step, with many of the topics and issues he helped work through in other venues now coming before the council.

“It feels like a natural progression from volunteering,” he says. “(The council) is working on some of the same projects and plans that came out of the Visioning Committee.”

While he acknowledges his presence on the council dais will likely be lower key than his outspoken predecessor, Fagin praises Stanton’s legacy.

“As far as filling in for her, I don’t really look at it that way,” he says. “We all bring our own way of doing things. She’s done an excellent job over the years.”

Stanton, who publicly endorsed Fagin in his successful run against Rob Solomon, says she looks forward to seeing how her successor applies his own style and approach to governing in her old seat.

“I hope he will be his own man and look at each issue on behalf of the entire city,” she said in December.

Mayor Denny Doyle has known and worked with Fagin on various committees and organizations for the past six years or so. He says he appreciates having a business-oriented person as part of the council.

“He will be a great addition to council. He joins with other councilors with business backgrounds, and that’s always exciting. Mark’s always asked tough questions and works to get the right answer. I’m excited to see him launch his political career,” Doyle says.

Councilor Cate Arnold praises Fagin for taking advantage of the long gap between his election and swearing in as a city councilor on Tuesday.

“It was smart of him to have been coming to meetings,” she says. “He understands the issues he’s looking at, and he should be able to step in and hit the ground running.”

With many issues hashed out in detail in the past year, Arnold imagines Fagin as part of a freshly proactive governing body in 2013.

“I think he’s a very positive person,” she says. “I really expect him to be part of a good shift toward being a more productive council this year.”

Support systems

In addition to following the council through agendas and meetings, Fagin has spent recent weeks meeting with various staff members in City Hall.

“I’ve been meeting with individual department heads to have a better understanding of their day-to-day duties,” he says. “One of (council’s) roles is to support the staff. I’m working hard to make sure we communicate effectively and operate on a ‘no surprises’ concept. “We’ve got a really good staff here.”

Fagin says his wife, Shelley, who serves on the Beaverton Arts Commission, has been supportive of his run for office. The couple, who have two children each from previous marriages, are used to working their partnership around evening meetings and other civic-minded endeavors.

“I’ve been to a lot of meetings already,” he says. “Now at least she can turn on the TV and see me.”



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