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Five face off for 3 council seats

Five people are set to run for the Lake Oswego City Council in November in a mix that includes three frequent civic volunteers, a local campaign director and an activist from the rim of the lake.

All five met the Tuesday filing deadline to run for election to the city council Nov. 7. The candidates will vie for three four-year terms. The three with the most votes are elected to serve at large, rather than by wards.

The available positions will be vacated in December by Gaye Graham and Jack Hoffman, both phased out by term limits, and by Lynn Peterson, who is running for Clackamas County Commission.

Those vying for the positions are Roger Hennagin, J.T. Tenneson, Donna Jordan, Kristin Johnson and Douglas Reiter.

Reiter, a lake resident and a member of the Concerned Shareholder group of the Lake Oswego Corporation, is known locally as a party to a lawsuit against the corporation filed in December 2005.

Reiter's claim, among other things, charged the Lake Corp with failing to protect shareholders from pollution from city sources, including sedimentation from the watershed and sewage overflows. The suit also charged the corporation with failing to force the city of Lake Oswego to improve creeks and other waters that drain pollutants to Oswego Lake.

Reiter said he isn't certain whether his views on lake pollution would weigh into his campaign for city council but sees the corporation and the city as being on a collision course.

'I'm a private sector guy who's decided he's going to put his mouth where his money is,' he said. 'I'm going to see, with all the complaining I've done over the last 25 years, whether I can make a contribution that actually makes sense.'

Reiter has no previous public service experience and currently works as an executive search consultant, recruiting executives and building teams in the private sector.

He said the central issue in this campaign is one of accountability in government. He wants more focus on infrastructure, police, fire and utilities and less time spent on projects like the city's proposed community center.

He's not alone.

Jordan, Tenneson, Johnson and Hennagin all cite infrastructure as a major concern for Lake Oswego and will likely bring those issues to a debate about the city's future.

Johnson, a recent University of Oregon graduate, said she also wants sewer problems addressed and surface water pollution curbed.

'I think that's an important issue, not only environmentally, but also for livability, making sure that Lake Oswego stays a great place to live,' she said.

Johnson brings a youthful perspective to the campaign - she was a youth councilor on the council in 2000 when the city began that program to bring youth input into policy-making.

She recently returned to Lake Oswego after graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in political science, with emphasis on land use planning. Johnson said she plans to bring that learning to discussions about affordable housing in Lake Oswego. She said she sees a lack of housing as a serious issue for the city, not only for senior citizens but for returning residents as well, and wants to explore solutions.

'Particularly for people who are trying to move back into the community … so all members of the community can remain members of the community,' she said.

Johnson has previously worked as a campaign director on national and local campaigns, including David Wu's 2000 campaign against Goli Ameri. She has also volunteered locally.

Jordan, who also cites sewer and storm water infrastructure as top goals for a possible council term, brings the most public service experience to this batch of candidates. She currently serves on the Lake Grove Village Center Implementation Advisory Committee and Lake Oswego's Transportation Advisory Board.

A homemaker, Jordan's public service history includes stints on the Portland Public School Board and on the board of directors of the Multnomah County Educational Service District.

She said infrastructure is a key issue, which she regards as 'the kind of things that go into making a city comfortable and safe for everyone to live in.'

Jordan can also be expected to tackle transportation issues both inside the city and in areas where Lake Oswego links to Portland and other towns. She hopes to bring knowledge from her years of service in the Portland area to public policy development here.

Tenneson, current past president of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce, has also said sewer problems and the possible streetcar extension to Lake Oswego from Portland motivated his run for city council.

Pointing to looming costs for both projects and for a proposed community center in Lake Grove, Tenneson said he thinks Lake Oswego's next city council needs to buckle down and implement the city's last few years of visioning.

'I don't think we need any more ideas,' he said.

Instead, Tenneson said city leaders need to find a way to fund sewer projects and the proposed community center. He thinks federal funding for the streetcar can take pressure off of local taxpayers and ease transportation concerns.Tenneson is the president and chief executive officer of Excel Excavation, Inc., and also serves on a city committee promoting water conservation. He also served on the local task force that recently recommended bringing the Portland Streetcar to Lake Oswego.

Hennagin, a local lawyer and frequent civic volunteer, also served on that committee and brings the most experience on local transportation issues to this campaign. He previously served on a committee to preserve the rail link between Lake Oswego and currently serves on a committee probing transportation problems downtown.

Aware of the variety of different issues facing Lake Oswego in the next four years, Hennagin said he wants to be part of the decision-making process.

In addition to bringing expertise on transportation problems, Hennagin also served on a local committee exploring the rules governing local improvement districts - districts that direct a portion of their tax base to redevelopment projects.

He said, 'issues of preserving open space and infill, which seem to be intertwined, and there's the issue of the development of Foothills' that also present future challenges.

He also sees planning for a community center as a key issue and, like other candidates, expects to take an active role in discussions about sewer repairs.

'That's going to be a big expense that the city has to study to determine what's in the best interest of everybody,' Hennagin said.

The Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce plans a candidate forum Oct. 5 at the Oswego Lake Country Club. The event is open to the public and includes appearances by city council candidates, candidates for the Oregon House and Senate and also by candidates for the Clackamas County Commission.