Our community is built on trust. We trust that the family next door will act 'neighborly.' We trust that our garbage and recycling containers will be emptied on the scheduled day. We trust that when we see the flashing blue and red lights in our car's rear view mirror, the local police officer who approaches will fairly enforce our local laws. We trust that our local firefighters will be at our door when we frantically dial 9-1-1 in the middle of the night. We trust that our votes will be counted when we mark and mail in our ballots.
Trust is the glue that binds us to one another. It is what defines us as a community.
But, the proponents of Ballot Measure 3-269, which would amend our city charter, do not trust. They do not trust future elected leaders to act in the best interest of the community when property becomes available for purchase by the city. The proposed charter amendment, Measure 3-269, would require future local elected leaders to schedule a time consuming and expensive special election requesting that community voters decide whether the elected leaders can purchase a piece of property for a park, a pathway or a public facility.
Ballot Measure 3-269 is about trust, not about Safeco. The purchase of the Safeco property is not the central issue facing our community in the upcoming November election. If we as a community disagree with the Safeco purchase, we will vote no on the city council measure, 3-273. If we want to keep the property for future public use, we will vote yes on 3-273. It is fairly straightforward.
Rather, the more important community issue is the message behind the proposed charter amendment. If passed, the 3-269 message will be that as a community we have agreed that in the future we will not trust those of us who may consider volunteering their time to run for and serve as a community elected leader. We will not trust them to make wise choices about property purchases.
This lack of trust, which is the cornerstone of Measure 3-269, raises a critical question for us as a community. If we do not trust our fellow Lake Oswegans who may contemplating running for local elected office in 2008, 2010, 2012, and beyond, which one of us will volunteer (his or her) time to run, to serve? If one of us decides to run, but we do not trust them to act in the community's best interest, how can we trust them with our vote? Or will we turn in blank ballots?
And how will that define us as a community?
Jack Hoffman, Lake Oswego, is a former Lake Oswego city councilor.