The questions keep coming in the Lake Oswego Mayor's race:

* Is John Surrett a polarizing force?

* Is Jack Hoffman too aligned with the old guard?

* Is Surrett a single-issue candidate?

* Does Hoffman have time to do the job while maintaining a full-time legal practice?

We hear these concerns - and others - and wonder about them as well.

The two mayoral candidates couldn't be more different in style and background. Make no mistake, both men want the best for Lake Oswego. How they get to that place - and what that place might look like - is at the heart of their contrasting points of view.

Hoffman, a land-use attorney, served on the city council for eight years, going out of office because of term limits. Surrett, retired from a career in heavy construction, environmental policy analysis and small business, has a long history of involvement in Lake Oswego.

The ground zero issue that separates them is the purchase of the Safeco Building, which is now known as the West End Building. The decision to buy - and the process of how that happened - took place during Hoffman's time on the council. Surrett opposed it and eventually helped form the Ask Lake Oswegans group, which attempted to change the rules under which the city could make major real estate purchases.

This issue, more than any other, has created a divisiveness in the community that is palatable, almost measurable.

We don't think the council acted appropriately in the purchase of the WEB. We don't think the Ask Lake Oswegans' ballot measure was the right response.

Hoffman brings experience and a proven track record to the position. We believe that overall, that Lake Oswego is better off today than when he first took office. This was made possible because of a visionary mayor and a council that could work together to make things happen.

Unfortunately, a tidal wave of significant projects has sullied some of the many good things achieved under the Hammerstad administration - the WEB being a primary example.

Though Surrett seems more than capable of doing a fine job as mayor, we wonder if he would even be running if it were not for his strong stance on the WEB. We also have concerns about his ability to collectively work with other members of the council to problem solve.

We also have concerns about how Hoffman helped to seemingly shut out public comment on the WEB. This effort is a key part of the reason why the city is in the mess it's in today.

We wish Surrett had opted to run for one of the three council positions. We think his voice would be a good addition to the conversation. While we don't think a mayor without council experience is a must, it certainly would help.

With the future of Lake Oswego unfortunately linked to a variety of tough decisions and expensive projects, it's going to be a difficult time for the mayor and council that begin work in January.

While we thank both men for running for this tough job, we are supporting Jack Hoffman for mayor. We do so with an asterisk. We ask that he be very sensitive to the increasingly louder voices in Lake Oswego - on the WEB and other subjects. It no longer can be business as usual. And we sincerely hope that the voices that worry about him having enough time for both the mayor's job and his legal practice don't turn out to be right.

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