West Linn has a reputation for a great quality of life, good schools, nice parks, and oh yes, the theft of 1.4 million dollars in what has been described as one of the largest cases of public corruption in Oregon history, and politics that are so polarized that people continue to attack the person instead of the position the person is taking.

I am running for city council because I believe that I can make a difference. My long term vision of West Linn includes maintaining our quality of life by continuing to enhance our city's parks and trail systems, making sure there are adequate playing and practice fields for all of our youth sports, and building strong relationships with neighboring cities, Metro, and the county to protect our regional interests.

Unfortunately, before we can move forward with the long term vision we must fix mistakes that have been made over the last five years. We must restore financial accountability and responsibility to City Hall. Our bond rating has been lowered because the fiscal year 2004, 2005 and 2006 state mandated audits still have not been completed and most likely will not be completed for at least another nine months. The forensic audit field work is complete, but the written report is still being prepared. These audits are long overdue and it is apparent that the yearly audits will not be released before the election, which is unfortunate. Every citizen should know what is in those audits before they vote for someone that may be sitting on the council for four years. At the very least, the forensic audit should be released before the election.

My short-term goals for West Linn are to get the audits done as quickly as possible and release the results to the public immediately. Nine months is too long of a timeframe. The longer these audits go without completion the longer we have to live with a lower bond rating. Furthermore, I would make sure the Finance Department is properly funded and staffed with qualified individuals that have the experience needed to make sure there are proper internal controls and that they are followed rigorously.

My vision of the political process of West Linn would be one of transparency and civility. We are a diverse society with many different views on how public policy should be shaped. We need to have a healthy debate on the issues that have a direct impact on our quality of life. We can address a broad range of issues more effectively if we do away with the destructive ways in which the issues are being addressed. As a city councilor, I would be committed to serving the citizens of West Linn through an open door policy of communication. I will encourage participation in the political process and be easily accessible to all citizens that want to voice their opinion. Obviously, we will not always agree on every issue, but I will listen with respect and serve all citizens with honesty and integrity.

West Linn is at a crucial stage in its history. We are approaching maximum build out within the current city limits, future growth depends on whether the Urban Growth Boundary is extended, how far it is extended, and when and if the city annexes any of this new area. All of these factors will determine the livability and type of city we will live in for decades to come. I am running for city council because I want to have an active role in the policy-making decisions that affect our quality of life.

Mike Hughes is a resident of West Linn and candidate for city council in the Nov. 7 election.

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