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Decide what leadership you want for our community

Local elections in cities our size are perfect settings to witness the working of our Constitutional Republic. We are not electing officials to legislate but to guide city staff in the administration of citizens’ priorities. The result is an election where citizens are asking neighbors to run the city in a way consistent with the city charter.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t different philosophies of governing or the role of city government among the candidates. Our issues are focused on property rights, core services, infrastructure and the efficient use of our money. Administration of these city services is more black and white than the gray areas of legislation. It is when a council moves beyond the administration of staff to expanding policy that divisiveness may surface. The question becomes is this policy consistent with the city charter and being driven by citizens’ desires and priorities, or of forces outside the community?

After attending the candidate forums, this election, as in 2010, has developed two philosophies that are widely different and the candidates have fallen into one of the two groups. They both want a beautiful, safe community but it is the difference in policy on how to arrive at these visions that are critical.

In 1986, the LO Downtown Redevelopment Plan was approved. It took 13 years of careful planning before Millennium Plaza Park opened. During this same time Lake View Village was proceeding with final plans approved in 2001 and doors opened in 2003. This was policy that was driven and approved by the citizens of LO. During that time city debt was held low and LO received the highest bond ratings available.

What have been the policies of the 11 years since 2001? First, there was the completion of prior administrations’ careful work endorsed by the community. Policy continued with the decision without community agreement to bring a streetcar into town at a cost of over $400 million. For the streetcar to make sense, council had to completely change the character of LO and propose high-density, affordable, subsidized housing in Foothills. If that planning direction was to be realized more water was needed. Now we are faced with unchecked spending and debt on the water project with Tigard that threatens bond ratings.

Yes, a new sewer interceptor was brought in under budget. That should have been a high priority with council as safety of the city is a primary responsibility. Yet, it was the state that had to threaten the city with non-compliance for a number of years that finally forced the interceptor priority over planners’ dreams fueled by Metro’s aspirations.

Now we must choose what leadership style best fits LO. There is no middle road as four candidates exemplify the leadership of the 14 years from 1986 while four believe in the results and leadership from 2001 to 2012. This is clearly seen in endorsements, candidates’ statements and their voting records.

Who we place in office is the first step in showing council our priorities. Decide what leadership you want for our community. Then join me in voting in November.

David Barra, Lake Oswego, is a 1967 graduate of Lake Oswego High School who has lived in Lake Oswego for 40 of his 54 years in Oregon.