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Letters to the editor on Gresham districts: Sept. 14

Districts would create opportunities

As a point of information to Carol Nielsen-Hood’s guest comment, “Councilor resorts to fear— not truth,” yes, I do live in a more upscale area of Gresham, as does the majority of Gresham’s leadership.

I am the 1 percent.

While my success has not come easy, with many six-day work weeks and 24/7 on-call obligations, that was my choice.

What also was my choice was this: Sink or swim.

Two older sisters and a younger brother grew up with a mother tirelessly working graveyard and with a father who was alcoholic and absent.

We made the best of having no automobile. I still recall a coach noticing that I was the only barefoot runner on the track because tennis shoes were too cumbersome and I could not afford track shoes.

I was thrilled to get a call from OSU track coach Sam Bell who let me pick a pair of Adidas from a stack of shoes in the locker room. I was thrilled.

So in going forward I had the choice of either quitting or of taking pride in my mother’s unequivocal love and support and the encouragement of coaches and teachers, to make something of my future.

I chose to become involved in my church, school and community at every level, to give back because I had been given an opportunity, and to pass those values onto my children.

I think that is the obligation of the 1 percent.

While using Rockwood and minorities as examples, in my citizen comments, “Gresham’s voting process could lead to civil rights lawsuit,” I was writing broadly about disenfranchisement. That occurs when — because of time or circumstance — a city grows and we lose touch with the changes that are happening right in front of us.

I have been blessed in so many ways. Advocating for Measure 26-141 is a way of giving back. Re-establishing district representation provides another form of opportunity.

In fact, one definition for “district” is “community.” So it is the Gresham community, through the smaller size and scale of districts that provides the opportunity for the 99 percent to run for public office, not just those who can afford to.

John H. Kilian

Gresham

Districts could eliminate best candidates

I love Gresham. Ours is the second largest of five regionally connected cities. When you think of Gresham in that context, our city serves as one district.

• Our staff is dedicated to citywide services.

• Our issues are often regional and sometimes national in scope.

• Our safety is based largely on mutual aid between our neighbors and shared intelligence.

• We will need cooperative work to see us through national, regional or citywide disasters.

We need our council to be made up of citizens who are elected to serve our city, not individual districts.

Join me in voting to keep councilors elected citywide. Our future needs to be managed by a team that has the best possible individuals. Councilors elected citywide will do that.

Thomas Griffith

Gresham

Editor’s note: Griffith served as a Gresham city councilor from 1983-89.