I usually always feel sad when someone leaves - family, friends, neighbors, pets and old houses. Never knew until the election that I feel sad when we lose our seasoned city council members, but I am, I'm sad, downright sad! Sometime within the last decade I realized that council members are like friends, neighbors - human, real, interesting, sometimes even vulnerable. I've been with most of them at the first-Saturday LONAC meetings where we active neighborhood citizens talk back and forth with our elected officials and city staff in order to learn about each other, our issues and what's going on. I noticed we have so much more in common than we have differences. Also notice that they are at the LONAC meetings to listen to what we all have to say - listen, respond and often to take action on our behalf.
The city council is made up of citizens like all of us who live and work and love this community. The difference is that they make the brave and difficult decision to give their time and effort to a job that most of us are unwilling to do. They forfeit the opportunity to sit back, observe, judge, criticize, discount and belittle the rest of us. Instead, they put themselves out there and take responsibility for making bottom-line, governing decisions that must be made - there is no other choice. We keep them alert, knowing almost every decision provokes as much anger as appreciation.
I've observed seven mayors, three or four city managers and I'm not sure how many councils since the 1960s. I was mad at them most of the time and sent them letters to that effect. But I wasn't brave enough to face them, tell them, talk with them, most of all listen to them and try to understand. It's different now. We are all grappling with change that has to happen - there is no other choice. The infrastructure of our city cannot accommodate the increasing population, and so we either have to limit growth or make room for it. Haven't heard anyone say they want to limit growth these days, so accommodating it is apparently majority rule.
I first heard the term 'makeover' on Oprah's show when she took 'frumpy' ladies, like me, and made them into something else. Am noticing that 'makeovers' aren't limited to ladies because cities and countries seem to be getting made over as well. My neighborhood is getting made over fast - each week little houses disappear and big houses take their place. I am the proud co-owner of brand new aqua blue sewer pipes in my alley and, who knows, perhaps my lead pipes will get a makeover in a few years, too.
Lake Oswego's makeover is bringing people into the community who have no problem affording it. Our mayor and council must represent them. On the other hand, there are those of us who can't afford it but we don't want to leave our community. There may never be a more difficult issue to face. It is a serious dilemma, and I see our mayor and council trying hard to find ways to accommodate our needs. The last thing I want to do is shoot them down now when what they need most is help, patience, encouragement and some good, creative ideas.
Thank you, Mayor Hammerstad and councilors, for your tireless attention to this community. Thank you for the impossible job of listening and trying hard to accommodate all of us at the same time. Thank you for moving ahead with what may be best for us even if we don't get it! Please accept my gratitude, patience, kindness and forgiveness for your infrequent mistakes. Thank you Jack Hoffman, Gay Graham and Lynn Peterson - I will miss seeing you on TV and feel sad. May your council experience give new skills for continuing public service. Wishing you all well-earned peace, joy and a Happy New Year.
Norma Edythe Heyser is a resident of Lake Oswego.