Hoffman eyes mayor's post

Former city councilor is running for the post that becomes open in 2009
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Former Lake Oswego City Councilor Jack Hoffman announced Tuesday he will run for mayor in the Nov. 4 general election.

The position will be vacated by Judie Hammerstad at the end of 2008. Hammerstad, who has served two consecutive terms as mayor, cannot seek re-election due to term limits.

So far, Hoffman is unopposed in the race. Anyone living within Lake Oswego city limits can declare his or her candidacy up until Aug. 26. Those candidates must collect 20 signatures from Lake Oswego voters to be eligible to run.

The mayor's position is just one in four on the Lake Oswego City Council that will be vacated at the end of this year.

Councilors John Turchi, Frank Groznik and Ellie McPeak will also end their current terms as city councilors. Both McPeak and Turchi are ineligible to run again, also due to term limits. Groznik has not yet said whether he will run again.

Whether Hoffman takes the lead in the mayor's race or another candidate emerges, Lake Oswego's next mayor is likely to lead a diverse group of city councilors.

As a vocal group of Lake Oswegans gains political standing - one that has called for greater focus on fiscal responsibility and less emphasis on projects with curb appeal - one city council candidate, Russell Jones, has already stepped into the race.

Though Jones faces at least one contender in David Jorling, his conservative message is likely to translate into a more tempered city council, if not a victory for Russell or another conservatively minded candidate.

Among the challenges the city's next mayor will face, one may be to lead a group of relatively new city councilors with potentially divergent personalities and political goals.

A former city councilor himself, Hoffman said he chose to run for mayor because he will likely be most effective there.

'I think I can guide the next city council because it's going to be relatively new,' Hoffman said.

He served two terms on the city council between 1998 and 2006. After a two-year break from public service he is now eligible to run for public office again in Lake Oswego, though he served two consecutive terms as a city councilor and was previously prevented from running because of term limits.

Politically Hoffman's legacy has been an initiative that brought the first public art projects to Lake Oswego in 2002.

But he is also known as a land-use attorney that's helped local communities implement state land use laws and tackle potentially sticky land-use debates in Lake Oswego.

Hoffman is a partner at the Portland office of Dunn Carney Allen Higgins and Tongue, LLP. While a city councilor, he represented Lake Oswego as a regional representative at Metro, where he was charged with advising the regional government on planning and growth issues as a member of the Metro Policy Advisory Committee.

The committee is composed of local elected officials throughout the Metro region. Hoffman was a member and alternate from 2000 to 2006 and served as chair of the committee in 2005.

Through the position, Hoffman led an effort to implement Metro's approach to goal five, a state land-use rule aimed at protecting sensitive lands and riparian habitat.

In Lake Oswego, it was also a Hoffman's initiative that brought about the creation of Lake Oswego's Infill Task Force, the committee that crafted design standards for infill construction in 2001.

A 32-year-resident of the city, Hoffman lives in the First Addition Neighborhood, the neighborhood most impacted by infill, or new construction in existing neighborhoods, during his years of service on the city council.

With the task force idea, Lake Oswego became one of the first in the nation to craft standards aimed at curbing the impacts of 'McMansions,' or large new homes that were out-of-scale with the neighborhoods in which they were built.

Hoffman balanced his ideas about conservative architectural design and sensitive land use with support for commercial development as a city councilor, primarily by supporting Lake View Village and other downtown development projects.

A former youth sports volunteer and chair of the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, he also advocated for parks, including the purchase and development of Foothills Park and construction of the Old River Road Pathway and Headley Walkway.

During Hoffman's years of service on the Lake Oswego City Council, the group also purchased more than 90 acres of parkland in the Stafford Basin, along Iron Mountain Road and in the Glenmorrie Neighborhood. The council also renovated the city's athletic fields and constructed artificial fields at both high schools during that time.

Hoffman was also involved in the controversial decision to purchase the building from Safeco Insurance in 2006.

As mayor, he said he would make advancing the city's sustainability initiatives a priority, along with a new look at infill.

But chief among the next mayor's priorities are the construction and financing of the city's new sewer interceptor and an expansion of the city's water utility, possibly in partnership with the city of Tigard.

Lake Oswego's next mayor must also lead a public process about whether the city should keep or sell the West End Building - formerly Safeco - on Kruse Way and how the property should be used.