Olson runs for spot on council

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A sixth candidate has announced plans to run for the Lake Oswego City Council, raising the stakes in an already competitive race.

Mary Olson, a frequent civic volunteer active with the political group Ask Lake Oswegans, recently announced her candidacy for one of the three available positions on the city council.

She joins five other candidates - Sally Moncrieff, Jeff Gudman, Bill Tierney, Russell Jones and Justin Luber - in the race. Additional candidates may still seek office by declaring their candidacy by Aug. 26.

Those who garner the most votes in the open election Nov. 4 will serve as Lake Oswego's next city councilors.

They replace John Turchi, Frank Groznik and Ellie McPeak, who will end their terms on the city council Dec. 31, 2008. Both McPeak and Turchi are ineligible to run again due to term limits; Groznik has announced he will not seek re-election.

Lake Oswego's next city council will tackle planning for the future of the city's West End Building, oversee construction of the one-of-a-kind floating sewer interceptor in Oswego Lake and lead the city through a review of its governing land-use plan.

A quick look at the latest candidate:

Mary Olson

Age: 55

Family: husband Rick and two children

Career: Business management, accounting and financial analysis

Hobbies: Cooking, gardening, politics, reading

Currently Reading: 'Theodore Rex' by Edmund Morris

Mary Olson thinks a lot about money management.

As the former chief financial officer for Northwest Permanente, the physician's group for Kaiser Permanente, Olson has a long history of blending business with finance.

So when the city of Lake Oswego bought the $20 million Safeco building at 4101 Kruse Way in April 2006, Olson was energized.

Already a community activist who served twice on the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Olson put her years of service, civic and school committees into the Ask Lake Oswegans campaign.

The campaign, active leading up to the general election in November 2007, promoted greater fiscal accountability on the part of city government and called for voter approval of city property purchases of more than $2 million. The measure failed but, if approved, would have forced a public vote on whether to keep the Safeco building.

As a city councilor, Olson would oversee a permanent plan for the West End Building and said she would base that plan on majority sentiment. She would also continue to promote fiscal accountability and a more transparent city government.

'I would really want the council as a whole to foster a collaborative, open relationship with our fellow citizens,' said Olson.

She thinks her business approach to politics and her proven ability to work with parents and seniors in the community will have appeal with voters.

In addition to being treasurer of two school parent clubs and the Pacer Football Organization, Olson has also served on an advisory committee to the Lake Oswego School Board and was recently appointed to the Lake Oswego Planning Commission.

'I think our city has been through a rough couple years and I think we need to move forward positively and I really think the next council has a lot of crucial decisions to make. I would really like to contribute toward that positive progress,' she said.

Whether looking ahead toward the pending review of Lake Oswego's comprehensive plan, updates to the city's infill ordinance, ongoing work on neighborhood plans and future growth in Stafford, Olson wants to help steer Lake Oswego's course.

She would promote greater support for small business development and be a better partner to the Lake Oswego School District. She would also work to block an extension of the Portland Streetcar if it took the train through downtown Lake Oswego.