What is important to Lake Oswegans? What issues are on your minds and what do you want of the next Lake Oswego City Council? As a candidate for city council, I always ask myself these questions and mulling in my own mind, do I bring the qualifications, acumen and experience that matches up?
Starting on hot summer weekends and continuing through election day, I have knocked on doors throughout the city. I have stood outside Farmers' Markets, music in the park concerts and football games. I have appeared along with other candidates at neighborhood and civic meetings. I tried to convince people to vote for me, but I also spent a lot of time listening.
What I heard is Lake Oswego is a great place to live, citizens want us to continue to improve our community, put the sewer in, on time and on budget and finally to make decisions about the future of the West End Building.
Not surprisingly, these observations align with the most recent citizen's survey released this spring. People are positive about the quality of life in our city but there are concerns with some government decisions with the singular hot issue being the West End Building.
Most people I talk with are concerned with the process used to buy Safeco Building. There are strong supporters of the purchase and equally strong detractors but the vast majority are concerned with the process. It surprised people we made such a large purchase without more community input and broader community support. They do not hold intractable views but are concerned we make wise decisions as we determine what to do.
We need facts and community participation to resolve this issue. Fortunately for the next council, the city is working on gathering information and starting more community outreach. Come January, the council can start immediately to bring options to the community and to develop the solution. Community participation will be the key factor. The normal lineup of nighttime public hearings and formal meetings needs to be supplemented by new means. I will attend neighborhood association meetings, I will go to school meetings, I will stand outside the grocery stores all in the interest of getting your input. I support the survey and focus groups already under way.
This issue has shown itself divisive and the new council must be committed to healing that quickly.
Financial projections, potential uses and options shared with the community will provide the basis to make an informed decision. I think it can be made within six months of a new council taking office.
The sewer interceptor is on everyone's minds as well. It is a complex, expensive project which brings a natural concern. We are all too familiar with cost overruns on public projects and this underlines most people's comments. The actual construction, no matter how well planned , will disrupt people's daily activities particularly on the south side of the lake. The new canal bridge was only a small indication of what is in store.
If I am fortunate to be on the council. I will actively oversee the project. I will ask for updates at every council meeting in sufficient detail to know if we accomplished the tasks planned to date as well as if expenditures are aligning with projections. In this way, we can see problems early and seek to have them corrected as well as to confirm those tasks that are on plan and on budget.
To answer my questions, I think I have a solid grasp on the issues of concern to you and the foundation and understanding of how local government operates to bring clear thinking, analytical skills and a concern to do it right and keep it within budget. I appreciate your support.
I will end thanking and congratulating my fellow candidates. It is an impressive group. Best to all.
Bill Tierney is a candidate for Lake Oswego City Council.