Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Meet the city council candidates

Councilor hopefuls respond to our questionnaire


Karen Bowerman

Age: 65

Job and education: Dean emeritus, College of Business and Public Administration, California State University system; former financial company manager; former executive director of Texas Commission on the Status of Women. Ph.D. in administration from Texas A&M University; M.A. in communications, human relations from Kansas University; B.A. in political science from Wichita State University

Political philosophy: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable rights of Americans. These rights are neither given by government nor are they to be taken by government. This philosophy combines all citizens, with differing perspectives, into a vibrant and ‘thinking’ community.”

Neighborhood: First Addition

How long you’ve lived in Lake Oswego: Purchased home in 2009 and began incremental move-in while remodeling

What role should the city play with local businesses and economic development?

The city should, as partners, work to fill empty retail and office space and foster privately funded construction where zoned for consistency with city character; keep (utility) fees and taxes under control so local businesses aren’t driven away by fixed costs too high to thrive; and form advisory board of businesspersons. To help ensure a sound base for LO’s economic vitality, the economic development department should assertively attract businesses and then serve them effectively, including for retention and through eventual expansion. With dedicated service, the attitude communicated is supportive rather than what could be seen as a dense regulatory environment.

How should the city prioritize spending on infrastructure and other projects?

Top prioritization of infrastructure should be based on analysis of the safety and well-being of our citizens. Sound infrastructure benefits all citizens. Infrastructure is a core service and should therefore receive top prioritization along with fire and police protection and safe, plentiful water that we enjoy. The city has responsibility for providing safe roads and sidewalks, and I would help ensure that all budgeted funds for that purpose are utilized well. Additional projects can be prioritized from both this election’s outcome of a citizen vote (library bond and Boones Ferry bond) and from fiscal analysis for responsibility in spending.

What should the city’s role be in regional issues such as planning for transportation and urban growth?

The city is an advocate and spokesperson for its citizens and businesses in communicating on regional issues. To serve as an effective advocate with Metro, the city council needs to have worked through our preferred plan for maintaining LO’s character. This is true whether the issue is transportation, urban growth, zoning or sensitive lands. The city must distinguish when Metro is representing actual requirements versus aspirational opinions and respond accordingly, because the city council should not relinquish its authority but rather act for primacy of our own agenda — not a regional agenda that overrides LO’s values and family-friendly community.

What’s one project the council tackled that you wish had turned out differently, or what is a project you feel turned out well? What went wrong, or what worked out well?

The largest capital project in our history, the LO-Tigard Water Partnership, is unfortunately represented by increasing water/sewer fees that are problematic for citizens as costs mount. Fees are like taxes without citizens’ vote, in this case until 2038 when project debt is scheduled to retire. Outdated assumptions caused capacity and scope overages yet we plunge forward without re-evaluation — needed now — before a shovel is turned. Many do not realize miles of pipes will be replaced. Search for cost-effective alternatives. Millions are being spent before obstacles are resolved including water rights the city is defending in Oregon Court of Appeals.

The city council faces a number of looming issues and potential projects. What should it deal with now, and how? Which should be priorities for later?

First, priorities should be collectively established so projects and funding can be sequentially planned for a fiscally responsible result. Ensure adequate funding of core services including police, fire and roads. Next, determine appropriate follow-up on Boones Ferry Road and the library, because results of the November citizen vote on bonds will be known for those projects. All the while, evaluate the LO–Tigard Water Partnership because of its stressful impact already felt on business, young families and those on fixed incomes. Continue finding balance with environmental stewardship and respecting citizens’ property. Then turn to calendar the sequence of remaining projects.

What should voters know about you?

On a personal level, I stand for integrity and leadership. On a professional level, my experience brings disciplined spending combined with strategic innovation for results. I can be counted on to work hard for all Lake Oswego citizens — from seniors to students, from pre-K to adult education levels, from any neighborhood and from any walk of life. I have a heart for the quality of life offered in our city and am dedicated to working for you. After all, it is your tax money that the city council uses for bringing progress based on prioritized projects consistent with citizens’ values.

Jon Gustafson

Age: 40

Job and education: Owner/partner of Beals Design-Build Inc. B.S. in architecture from Portland State University

Political philosophy: “Independent-thinking Democrat that believes local politics transcends party lines.”

Neighborhood: McVey-South Shore (previously First Addition and Lake Forest)

How long you’ve lived in Lake Oswego: Six years (worked in Lake Oswego for 14 years)

What role should the city play with local businesses and economic development?

We should support the attraction, retention and expansion of local businesses and enhance the overall economic vitality of Lake Oswego through the city’s Economic and Capital Development Department. Investments made toward vibrant commercial zones and a strong local economy pay back with an increased tax base, an improved quality of life and increased property values. Larger redevelopment opportunities, such as underutilized industrial lands in Foothills and the SW industrial area, should be planned and zoned by the city for the highest and best use and should be accompanied by public investment in infrastructure necessary to facilitate private development.

How should the city prioritize spending on infrastructure and other projects?

Core city services should be the city’s highest spending priority. Along with our first responders (police, fire and maintenance) the city’s No. 1 priority should be a safe and adequate water supply. Another important spending priority should be investments that will repay the city over the long term. Investing in urban renewal districts doesn’t cost the general taxpayer and over the life of the district can dramatically increase our tax base while improving our quality of life at the same time.

What should the city’s role be in regional issues such as planning for transportation and urban growth?

Lake Oswego is not an island and we cannot ignore the reality that forces beyond our border can and will affect our quality of life. Whether it’s increased traffic on Highway 43 from West Linn, traffic on Stafford Road from Wilsonville or traffic on Boones Ferry Road from Tualatin, what happens in the region affects Lake Oswego. That is why it is critical we contribute to regional planning efforts so we can diligently safeguard our interests and quality of life. Being a partner in a region does not mean we lose our character, it means we protect it.

What’s one project the council tackled that you wish had turned out differently, or what is a project you feel turned out well? What went wrong, or what worked out well?

Lake View Village and Millennium Plaza Park were urban renewal projects that effectively demonstrated how the city can take a leadership role in partnering with private developers to improve our built environment. In addition to providing space for restaurants, shops, the farmers market and other recreational opportunities, the redevelopment spurred other private investment in the area. Thanks to the council’s vision and use of urban renewal, our downtown is now a more vibrant and valuable community asset. All this was done without cost to the general taxpayer, and without compromising our city’s unique character.

The city council faces a number of looming issues and potential projects. What should it deal with now, and how? Which should be priorities for later?

Issues that have plagued councils of the past should be dealt with and put to rest so we can begin to come together as a community and focus our time and energy on the many things that we all agree on. A clear plan to utilize and/or sell the West End Building and sensible revisions to our sensitive lands ordinance will go a long way toward bringing our city together. Major capital improvement projects need to be planned and prioritized so funding strategies can be developed in advance to complete the projects over time.

What should voters know about you?

I’m optimistic about Lake Oswego’s future. We’re a fantastic city that is on track to get even better. We are a well-managed municipality on sound fiscal ground with an outstanding AAA bond rating, which is independent verification of our financial strength. Our civic identity and community character are unique and recognized in the region. My experience on the planning commission has taught me the important impact citizen involvement plays in policy decisions made by our leaders. As a city councilor, I’ll work to build bridges and build consensus, so where we can’t find agreement, we can find compromise.

Terry Jordan

Age: 55

Job and education: Health educator; small-business owner; martial arts instructor. B.S. in health education from Northeastern University in Boston

Political philosophy: “When citizens are knowledgeable about issues, collectively they have the wisdom and ability to choose what is best for themselves and the community. Elected officials need to be closely attuned to what citizens think about various issues in order to vote in ways that reflect what the majority of citizens want.”

Neighborhood: Marylhurst

How long you’ve lived in Lake Oswego: Since 2003

What role should the city play with local businesses and economic development?

The city should maintain and administer a regulatory environment where businesses are welcome, know the rules and are encouraged to prosper.

How should the city prioritize spending on infrastructure and other projects?

The city should move the Lake Oswego–Tigard Water Partnership project forward not only for capacity, but also for the reliability and seismic security. The Boones Ferry Road improvements are needed to create a safe area for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

What should the city’s role be in regional issues such as planning for transportation and urban growth?

The city should work together with Metro and other regional planners to control and develop while keeping the unique characteristics of Lake Oswego.

What’s one project the council tackled that you wish had turned out differently, or what is a project you feel turned out well? What went wrong, or what worked out well?

The development of Lake View Village and Millennium Plaza Park is such a beautiful example of urban renewal and private development working together. When we moved here, the project was not finished and it was a very different scene than what we have today. Now we have a thriving, beautiful downtown, a place where we stroll through, shop, attend concerts and the farmers market and the place we bring our visitors.

The city council faces a number of looming issues and potential projects. What should it deal with now, and how? Which should be priorities for later?

City hall, which houses staff, police and 9-1-1 (LOCOM), is deteriorating and has mold in the walls. LOCOM needs a seismically sound location. South Shore Fire Station needs an upgrade. We must decide the West End Building's best uses (e.g., temporary site for city hall while it’s repaired, potential LOCOM site on back parking lot). Additionally, the maintenance building needs upgrading. How the city supports Boones Ferry and the library will depend on upcoming bond measure votes. Other priorities include Foothills redevelopment and the tennis center. There are many more projects looming. I look forward to learning about them one by one.

What should voters know about you?

I bring a fresh perspective to city council free from past issues and agendas, ready to listen to my fellow citizens and collaborate with city councilors on every issue that comes before us. I have an open mind and a deep desire to serve our community. I represent the people who love Lake Oswego, and together we can work to keep Lake Oswego thriving and adapting to the needs of our current and future generations. If elected, I will be ready to hit the ground running in January and look forward to this opportunity to serve as your city councilor.

Skip O’Neill

Age: 54

Job and education: 25-year Lake Oswego business owner. B.A. Michigan State University

Political philosophy: “Middle of the road. Lake Oswego first.”

Neighborhood: Blue Heron

How long you’ve lived in Lake Oswego: 30 years

What role should the city play with local businesses and economic development?

We must ask what we can do differently to keep business and to entice new business. The planning department must become customer service oriented so investors consider Lake Oswego a good place to do business. Currently, the sophisticated investor thinks Lake Oswego is just too difficult to deal with — it takes too long to make decisions, the planning department is inconsistent in decision making and the building code is too open to subjective interpretation. A job description for city manager should be written, independent of staff, and we must get the city council to sign off on it.

How should the city prioritize spending on infrastructure and other projects?

We first must stop chasing dream projects with money that should have been used for maintenance of infrastructure. There is enough money in the budget for infrastructure but no money put aside for maintenance of infrastructure buildings or vehicles. City government has so neglected to budget for basic maintenance that we now have to resort to bond measures. Let’s do basics well and then prioritize with citizens the projects that are viable and affordable.

What should the city’s role be in regional issues such as planning for transportation and urban growth?

We should consider other regional entities as equal partners — not as our bosses. One of our regional entities, Metro, has said Lake Oswego does not have growth issues yet there seems to be a tendency by city government to misrepresent this fact. Lake Oswego’s natural topography, because of its hills and the river, causes transportation problems. Mass transit should be where the population is — Mountain Park, West Lake, River Grove, I-5 corridor — and those areas would benefit from increased bus service. Lake Oswego would benefit greatly from its own city bus service when we can afford it.

What’s one project the council tackled that you wish had turned out differently, or what is a project you feel turned out well? What went wrong, or what worked out well?

Lake Oswego Interceptor Project turned out well. There was neighborhood outreach, listening to citizens and giving solid factual answers to concerns. Lake Corp. and its neighbors worked together to help citizens understand the project was for the greater good. Community outreach and educating led to the buy-in. The city finally learned to work with Lake Corp. and a dozen neighborhoods.

The city council faces a number of looming issues and potential projects. What should it deal with now, and how? Which should be priorities for later?

We must first hire a new city manager. Currently the mayor and council are acting as city manager and are getting bogged down in details, which a good manager should be handling. After city manager, the council must deal with the police/9-1-1 call center, the West End Building, the maintenance facility and the water facility. After these, the council must face the Tigard water project and, working with its citizens, should be looking at the bigger picture and some visionary projects like the Boones Ferry Road project.

What should voters know about you?

In 1985, at age 27, I started a high-tech company that eventually employed 290 Oregonians. I’ve lived in Lake Oswego for 30 years, have been married for 30 years, and all three of my daughters have gone through k-12 with great grades. For the last 25 years I’ve run a small construction company, and I’ve coached sports in Lake Oswego for 20 years. I bike ride, snow ski and am a runner. I will bring a breadth of understanding to the council, not the least of which will be an understanding of the value of commercial buildings and city property.

Bill Tierney

Age: 62

Job and education: Manager at Portland General Electric; former president at North Sky Communications Inc.; VP and GM at TCI Cable. M.P.A. from University of Connecticut; B.A. from Fairfield University in Connecticut

Political philosophy: “Moderate.”

Neighborhood: Palisades

How long you’ve lived in Lake Oswego: 12 years

What role should the city play with local businesses and economic development?

The city should continue to encourage business and economic development. This starts with city staff taking a customer service mentality. During my term, we have improved greatly, which is illustrated by increasing same-day permits from almost none to more than 65 percent. Second, the city should update the development code to bring in more business. We did this in the Jean Road-Pilkington area by changing code, working arm in arm with the business community. Third, the city should continue to bring in private investment in Lake Grove and downtown through the judicious use of public dollars.

How should the city prioritize spending on infrastructure and other projects?

We need to continue to fund a capital reserve fund to replace firetrucks, police cars and public works trucks. With my strong support we got this started, but we need to be disciplined to continue to fund it. We need to house our first responders, police and public works in seismically designed buildings. Since these will require us to borrow money, our citizens will establish the priorities.

What should the city’s role be in regional issues such as planning for transportation and urban growth?

Simply stated, we need to actively participate — use the process to our advantage while promoting what is in Lake Oswego’s best interest. I recognize our success is inexorably linked with the Portland metropolitan region. My experience shows in most cases what is good for the region is good for LO. So, be at the table and influence decisions to help our community.

What’s one project the council tackled that you wish had turned out differently, or what is a project you feel turned out well? What went wrong, or what worked out well?

Our award-winning Lake Oswego Interceptor Sewer project worked out well. It was extremely complex, greatly impacted the community, was expensive and got done on time and under budget. Its success is a testament to our professional staff, oversight on the part of the city council and close working relationships with the community, particularly the Lake Corp. It is a model we will use as we proceed with other big capital investments.

The city council faces a number of looming issues and potential projects. What should it deal with now, and how? Which should be priorities for later?

We must finish the Lake Oswego-Tigard water project on time and on budget to ensure clean and reliable water for years to come. We took advantage of a partnership to update our system at the lowest possible cost to us. We are five years and some $25 million in. Simple contract law says we cannot just change our minds, as some suggest, without incurring responsibility for what we’ve spent and damages Tigard will claim. Finishing is the only reasonable course. Maintaining the city’s financial strength is another priority. So far I’ve focused on financial matters, which I’ll continue if re-elected.

What should voters know about you?

Serving the past four years on the city council, I am proud of how I approach the issues. From large to small matters, I do my homework, I listen, I weigh the facts and then I decide, in that order.

Dan Williams

Age: 51

Job and education: Wood products executive at Do-it Best Corp; president of nonprofit Neighborlink Inc. B.S. in business finance/administration from University of Oregon

Political philosophy: “Local government should listen to and respect citizen input and reflect their priorities.”

Neighborhood: Bryant

How long you’ve lived in Lake Oswego: 22 years

What role should the city play with local businesses and economic development?

The city should actively promote local business and facilitate economic growth by making it clear that Lake Oswego is business friendly. We can do this by clarifying our existing code, establishing zoning consistent with citizen expectations and streamlining our permitting and business services processes. Improvement in these areas would signal to the business community that we can compete and are in fact the best place in our region to grow business. We must avoid lowering our community standards to attract business. We have everything needed to support, attract and retain top-flight businesses and housing for their employee families.

How should the city prioritize spending on infrastructure and other projects?

Citizens have made it clear that before we fund the “wants” we must fund the “needs.” The deteriorating condition of our streets is concerning. We still need to provide safe pathways and bikeways for our school children as well as our citizens in general. A new maintenance facility is important to improving and protecting the existing infrastructure investment made by generations of Lake Oswego residents. An earthquake-resistant 9-1-1/LOCOM center is a priority investment in public safety. Also, improved facilities for LOPD and South Shore Fire Station would benefit and strengthen our highly valued public safety network of first responders.

What should the city’s role be in regional issues such as planning for transportation and urban growth?

The city‘s role in regional issues should be one of providing clarity that while we respect the value of coordinated and thoughtful planning, we are unique within the region. Citizens are not interested in degrading our quality of life to facilitate outside interests. Our city must not sacrifice our prized livability standards; indeed, they are foundational in keeping LO schools, businesses and community at the top of the list for families and businesses evaluating location options. Planning for transportation and growth plans must be consistent with, and enhance, existing livability standards. Solutions for other areas may not fit LO.

What’s one project the council tackled that you wish had turned out differently, or what is a project you feel turned out well? What went wrong, or what worked out well?

The LOIS project went well. The staff and council are to be commended for completing this project within the specified time frame and under budget. It is also important to acknowledge the cooperative role of the Lake Corp. They provided valuable information, which saved our city significant time and money.

The city council faces a number of looming issues and potential projects. What should it deal with now, and how? Which should be priorities for later?

The vote on the two ballot measures will provide insight regarding citizens’ priority of the Boones Ferry and library projects. Pending the decision of voters on these important issues, my priority issues and potential projects are as follows: hiring a new city manager, getting a proposed use of the West End Building on the ballot for voter approval, improving streets and pathways, reviewing payroll/PERS and establishing a consultant registry. Capital projects include a new maintenance facility, earthquake-resistant 9-1-1/LOCOM and LOPD facilities, and South Shore Fire Station. I am committed to supporting schools through facility sharing options that do not burden taxpayers.

What should voters know about you?

As a longtime resident of LO, father of two LOSD student daughters and past citizen budget committee member, I have the opportunity to ensure the Lake Oswego of today is protected for future generations. Through prudent attention to finances and careful investment, we can preserve and enhance our schools and community. The community’s strength is the incredible knowledge and talent of our citizens. Government should protect but not overshadow citizens. I will work to promote Lake Oswego as the premier place in Oregon to live and do business. I believe that we are indeed stronger together.