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In the four-way race for Position No. 3 on the Gresham City Council, the best choice is to return incumbent Karylinn Echols, who has the best mix of abilities to serve on City Council.

Echols brings to this election a collaborative approach to leadership and a depth of knowledge that comes from serving in the trenches of city government. These qualities make her well suited to work in partnership with other councilors, the city manager, and with regional and state governments.

These are difficult times for Gresham, which is leaving no stone unturned as it looks for ways to reverse deep cuts brought on by years of declining revenues — all while expenses are skyrocketing. In recent years, Gresham has slashed public safety, parks and other important programs. Echols didn't create this funding mess, but she is well-suited to help lead the city back to prosperity.

Echols ranks public safety as her top priority, which is why she's thrown her support behind Mayor Shane Bemis's proposal to charge a $7.50 monthly fee to households and businesses in order to maintain police, fire and park services. She also supports the idea of a citizen oversight panel to review the fee and advise the council on future changes.

And she understands that any financial recovery must be accompanied by economic development. Echols will continue to support a partnership between Gresham and the Port of Portland, and support the highly successful Garage to Storefront Program that has attracted dozens of businesses to commercial areas throughout Gresham.

Echols also boasts a strong resume of professional, government and volunteer involvement, all of which help sharpen her focus on the needs of East County, Gresham in particular.

Inside baseball

The casual observer may not know that two of Echols' opponents — John Deer and Richard Strathern — are actually friends. One might want to ask, then, why would two friends line up against each other in this race? Why wouldn't one of them have filed for Position No. 1 or No. 5, both of which also are on the November ballot?

This has led some to wonder if these two candidates are stacking the deck against Echols, hoping to divide the vote and give each other better odds of winning the council seat. (Or, more importantly to them, remove Echols from office).

The casual observer also may not have put two-and-two together: Strathern is the mastermind behind the districting measure that also appears on the November ballot. If approved, Gresham city councilors would no longer be elected to at-large positions, but instead to specific districts of Gresham. Echols is among the city councilors who have outright opposed districting.

Maybe that's too much inside baseball — maybe not — but we felt it important to point out that this race isn't as simple as four random people lining up for a shot at this one council position. There are underlying motives, and not all of them are pure.

Dick Strathern

Strathern was a member of the Gresham City Council from 2007-10, a time when he demonstrated a great willingness to antagonize his fellow councilors; often furociously debating an issue, only to wind up voting with the very people he argued against. One of those people was Mayor Bemis, with whom he says he shared a strikingly similar voting record.

Interestingly, Strathern said districting would rank No. 2 on his list of goals if elected to the council. Frankly, on the list of highly-important issues facing Gresham, districting ranks about dead last. It's a distraction.


Gresham residents need serious councilors who are willing to vote their conscience, but who also work in unison as they advance the shared mission of making Gresham a better place to live. Strathern would interfere with that mission for the sake of a good argument. Echols, however, would simply work for solutions that benefit this community today and in the years to come.

The wise person will vote for Karylinn Echols.

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