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New PAC launches in Lake Oswego

To ask a group of civic-minded volunteers, Lake Oswego has a lot to be proud of. Great schools. Top notch cops and firefighters. One of the nation's best libraries.

But with political discourse feisty over rising costs and the future of the hastily-acquired West End Building, some worry nay-saying has overshadowed the community's strengths.

So a dozen of the city's most ardent champions of schools, libraries and businesses formed a political action committee recently. Called Keep Lake Oswego Great, it's designed to steer the local conversation about politics, and politics only, in another direction.

Organizers include Linda Brown, a member of the Lake Oswego School Board; Linda Kerl, a past member of the Lake Oswego Corporation Board of Directors; George Benson, a former superintendent of the Centennial School District in Southeast Portland and Gresham, now a leadership services consultant; and Colleen Beneett, president of the Friends of the Library and past chair of the Lake Oswego Library Advisory Board.

They also include Jerry Wheeler, chief executive officer of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce, and neighborhood and business organizers Chuck O'Leary, Kay Rhoney, Chris Schetky, Karen Jacobson, John Hanan II and Linda Adlard.

In the short term, their political action committee has set its sights on the general election Nov. 4. Organizers of the political action committee are currently interviewing candidates in the race for Lake Oswego City Council and mayor. They plan election endorsements in mid-October and say their support will go to candidates who share their core set of values.

Those values include achieving a healthy local lifestyle, citizen engagement in politics, healthy businesses, a clean environment, smart public investments and improved community institutions.

After November, organizers say their aim will be to bolster civic programs that also underscore those goals.

'I think a lot of us have been disturbed by the increasing negativity we're seeing in the press in the last couple years and I think there's a lot of good things going on in the community,' said Rob Le Chevallier, a local attorney and director of the political action committee.

'I think our goal is to change the conversation about Lake Oswego. We really want to focus on the institutions and the programs in the community that we think keep Lake Oswego great and build support for those,' he said.

So far, organizers are spreading their message by passing out stickers at the Lake Oswego Farmers' Market and talking about their goals.

They raised $300 in contributions before registering with the Oregon Secretary of State's Office in August. At an upcoming fund-raiser, they intend to draw $100 from 100 people, broadening their political base as well as capital for their efforts.

Le Chevallier said none of that money will flow directly to political candidates. Instead, the group will spend its contributions on literature promoting the candidates they endorse. Money will also flow to programs and institutions supported by the political action committee.

To better explain their goals, organizers of Keep Lake Oswego Great are currently writing a series of letters to the editor and citizen's views in the Lake Oswego Review, focusing on Lake Oswego's strengths.

Calling the group's stance 'the 1,000-foot-view,' Le Chevallier said the political action committee plans to look past the current political environment toward building a better community.

'I think part of what we're doing with Keep Lake Oswego Great is asking citizens to focus on what they think is important to our community. What are the institutions and the programs that keep a community valuable?'

To learn more about the political action committee, visit www.KeepLOGreat.com .