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Chamber head to run for council

Mark Buser, chamber president, hopes to win seat on West Linn City Council

Citing nearly a lifelong desire for public service, local businessman and former chamber of commerce president Mark Buser has announced his intent to run for the West Linn City Council.

'I'm really excited and thrilled to be launching this endeavor,' Buser said. 'It's been a long time coming.'

Buser has scheduled a campaign kickoff event Jan. 31 at a location yet to be disclosed. He recently established a contribution fund with Clackamas County Elections.

Buser hopes to win one of the two seats vacated when the terms of Council President Mike Gates and Michelle Eberle expire at the end of this year. Mayor Norm King's term also expires.

'There's no better time to bring my skills, my energy and my time to a city experiencing positive change right now,' said Buser, who is also a financial consultant and associate vice president at the firm D.A. Davidson in Lake Oswego.

The two vacant council seats are at large and filled by the top vote getters in the November general election. Neither Gates nor Eberle have announced whether they will seek re-election.

The direction of Buser's candidacy came first with a twist.

Buser said he wanted a new public sector challenge after his six years at the chamber came to an end at the conclusion of the year. His interest was sparked in the Clackamas County Commission after receiving a call from commission Chair Lynn Peterson asking whether Buser would be interested in running. Buser created, what he called, a Clackamas County Leadership Survey and met with a handful of city mayors, administrators and business leaders.

He soon realized a different path would be more prudent.

'It would have been risky for me to run for the commission without securing an elected office locally first,' Buser said. 'And I identified some nasty problems with the county that I didn't wish upon myself.'

He said his early announcement is just part of his nature. West Linn will not open its mechanism for filing for candidacy until early summer.

'I wanted to start early because I'm all about preparation,' he said. 'Be prepared, be vigilant all the time. And starting early is the best way for me.'

Buser cited the chamber of commerce's growth in membership from 85 to more than 300 in six years during his tenure. He said his experience in the business world and with the chamber has allowed him to understand how business is the backbone of a successful city.

Buser also serves as co-chair of the Willamette Centennial Committee, the organization planning historical events surrounding West Linn's centennial celebration. Buser, a history buff, also is the founder of the Lower Columbia Floods Chapter and the Ice Age Floods Institute.

'If I'm elected, I think the business community will be well represented,' he said. 'It's important for West Linn to sit at the larger table.'