School is back in session, the leaves are turning gold and the election season is upon us. It seems to be starting late this year; perhaps this is for the better. However, this does not release us from making an informed vote when our ballots arrive in a couple of weeks.
Our current leaders, Mayor King, and councilors Burgess, Carson, Eberle, and Gates have been leading with common sense and persistence. They are guiding the city through a complicated time addressing problems with the city's finances, and have put in a solid City Manager who is repairing the morale and leadership within the city. The mayor and councilors are all of strong common sense, but they are not all of one mind - there is a healthy discourse on most issues with the final outcome benefiting from the perspective of everyone.
All of our current leaders are up for re-election. They are joined by seven others on the ballot. As an active citizen at the city and neighborhood level, I urge you to re-elect our current leaders. They have committed many hours and late nights to bettering our city the past two years, and with your vote, voluntarily commit for 2-4 more years of service. Your votes in earlier citywide elections this year showed that you agree with the current council by almost a two-to-one margin on common sense issues like the water pipe and small-parcel annexations. Let's support them as they make us proud of West Linn again.
I am disturbed by two candidates … David Tripp and Curt Sommer. Tripp, running for mayor, is a former counselor from the Dodd's era. He voted with the Dodds' 'slate' 93 percent of the time over his last two years in office including the $789,000 of ongoing taxation for fire services that we already pay for with a TVF and R tax. He did not run in the last election but has jumped back in this time.
Tripp's role in the recent PERS 'crisis' was educating potential PERS retirees on how to maximize their take from the system.
Curt Sommer has no prior governmental experience although he has run as a Green Party candidate for state office fighting for public utilities (PUDs).
Sommer's 'title' of chairman comes from the misnamed League of West Linn Neighborhoods, an organization that has absolutely no affiliation with the city, neighborhoods, neighborhood associations, or citizens at large of West Linn. It has a paid membership of 26 or so and was named to make others feel like they represented more people than they do. Sommer has set the agenda of the LWLN to follow the Peak Oil fear tactics and to encourage what they call a relocation philosophy - moving all of the citizens to live where local farms can be reached by bicycles after all of the oil is gone. On the other hand, he thinks that the choices for the Stafford triangle are the extremes of 'no change' and 'Las Vegas or L.A.'
Tripp and Sommer are aligned with another group of citizens that many of you will recognize from many letters on these opinion pages. This small group of vocal citizens has lots of bark but little bite … Thomas, Sommer, Schwartz, Fox, Rittenhousen, Dodds, Lytle, Eden, etc. This group has taken over the Hidden Springs Neighborhood Association to try to give their message credibility. They 'instruct the president' to speak with 'official authority' by voting at meetings with less than 10 in attendance. The HSNA represents 3400 people and only 47 of them have 'official standing' to be able to vote, and the HSNA will vote on behalf of all 3400 residents with a quorum of only 4. Representation by 0.1 to 0.3 percent of the residents is misleading and hardly speaks for the majority. With issues like OHSU saline tests, running out of oil, and Metro on their agenda instead of their neighborhood association charter being a public organization providing advice and recommendations about neighborhood issues, these neighbors are overstepping their bounds. Imagine if Trip and Sommer were elected - how far off track would they take city government? Does this sound like 2001-2004 déjà vu?
I recommend a vote to re-elect the current mayor and council; King, Burgess, Eberle, Gates and choose either Babbit or Carson for the remaining seat. Let common sense reign!
Dean Suhr is a resident of West Linn.