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City faces tough road as voters reject 3-295

Overall, Tuesday's primary will generate some new faces into political landscape

You could almost sense this one coming.

With little opposition, a few stern letters to the editor here, a few passionate Web comments there, the silent ground storm boiled over in Tuesday's Oregon primary and sank the hopes of the Lake Oswego City Council.

When the counting of votes was completed, Lake Oswego Ballot Measure 3-295 failed convincingly as 57 percent of city voters said no to the $20 million refinancing proposal for the West End Building.

Had the measure passed, it would have paid off the temporary line of credit used to buy the building, one that's pulling $1 million annually from city reserves just in interest payments. So far, the city has yet to pay any principal on the loan.

The defeat begs the obvious question: What now?

That answer will be a delicate, troubling one for the city to figure out.

Opponents have and will continue to say that the solution is to put the building and its 14 acres up for sale. Prior to Tuesday, city officials pointed to last November's election in which voters narrowly supported a measure saying the city should keep the facility. Voters back then also rejected a related measure by the Ask Lake Oswegans group that would have limited the spending authority of future councils.

We don't have a good suggestion for how to find a positive solution out of this mess. We wish we did. With four new faces coming onto the council, our druthers would be that those yet-to-be-announced candidates will run on a platform that will generate good solutions.

Lake Oswego, as a city, has made remarkable gains in recent years. Just look around the downtown core, Luscher Farm and other parks, the Lake Oswego Farmers' Market and other endeavors to see why this city stands heads and tails above the rest of the region.

Unfortunately, for the city, taxpayers, worried about the prospect of higher fees and taxes, voted with their wallets and shot down the refinancing plan.

Tuesday's primary held a variety of intriguing races. Noteworthy, of course, were Barack Obama's convincing statewide win, the defeat of state Rep. Greg Macpherson, Lake Oswego, in his bid for Oregon Attorney General (probably aided by some of the most negative TV advertising in any of the campaigns) and the surprisingly strong win in the Republican Congressional District 5 primary by Lake Oswego's Mike Erickson (overcoming another negative campaign launched by Kevin Mannix).

Two other Lake Oswegans competed in an overall positive statewide campaign: Linda Brown, chair of the Lake Oswego School Board, lost to attorney Chris Garrett in the Democratic primary for House District 38. Garrett goes on to face Republican Stephen Griffith.