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Casey Ryan would bring untarnished vision to Troutdale

Our choice: Casey Ryan -

FILE PHOTO - Casey RyanWe’ve heard the arguments against Casey Ryan’s run to become the next mayor of Troutdale, and find it amusing that those arguments actually showcase why he’s the best candidate for the job.

The most common criticisms are that Ryan has never served in an elected capacity and that he’s never attended City Council or Budget Committee meetings. (True, he has not served in elected capacity; though, he has attended City Council meetings as an advocate for nonprofit organizations.)

But in this race, at this time, we prefer a candidate with minimal involvement in Troutdale politics over a candidate tarnished by the negativity that has defined this existing group of city councilors over the last several years. When elected, Ryan won’t be bogged down by the disruptive baggage that would follow his opponent, City Councilor Rich Allen.

Allen, as most people know, is a central figure in the fragmented culture of the existing City Council. He’s aligned himself with a voting bloc of three other city councilors in a ploy to control the decisions that are being made at the council level.

A vote for Allen is a vote in favor of continuing the negativity that defines the culture of this council. If that’s what Troutdale residents want — more of the same — they should vote for Allen. But if those same voters have grown weary of the “us vs. them” tone of Troutdale’s council members, if they’re serious about moving this town forward on economic and community developments, then Ryan is the clear and obvious choice.

He’ll bring a collaborative approach to city government, one that gives people a chance to be heard without fear of reprisals or personal attacks. And he’ll be successful because he isn’t a member of a voting bloc; he owes his allegiance only to the citizens of Troutdale.

Ryan’s reputation as a positive force in his community has captivated the attention and support of regional leaders who agree that he’ll deliver the type of civic leadership you would expect of a mayor. He’s earned the endorsements of the mayors of Fairview, Gresham and Wood Village, Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel, as well as the support of business interests through the West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce and East Metro Association of Realtors.

While true that Ryan has not been a frequent guest at city meetings, he’s no lightweight when it comes to leadership positions. He played a prominent role in the reversal of the business culture at Gresham’s MBank, which went from near bankruptcy to profitability with his help. And he’s participated in leadership roles with the Mt. Hood Community College Foundation, East Metro Economic Alliance and many nonprofit and civic organizations.

Under his leadership as mayor, Ryan would help move along the development of the Troutdale urban renewal area — along the Sandy River behind the Columbia Gorge Premium Outlets mall — by working to repair the council divisions that have stalled this project for far too long.

But Ryan is not a single-issue candidate. In fact, Troutdale’s urban renewal project doesn’t even grab the No. 1 spot on his list of priorities; that position belongs to partnering with the Port or Portland to attract the best industries — and jobs — possible to the Troutdale Reynolds Industrial Park.

Ryan says he would take charge in the critical decision on the hiring of Troutdale’s next city manager, leading the council in the selection of the person who will embrace the council’s mission and provide the best professional management of the city staff.

Ryan also has a vision for building upon the city’s arts culture; addressing a scarcity of activities in town for youths; completing the downtown development; and, at some point, figuring out a solution for a permanent City Hall.

We believe these things will come to pass, but only by ending the combative culture that has come to define this council. A new culture won’t come about by electing part of the problem to the top leadership role.

Moving Troutdale forward requires a mayor with strong leadership skills and untarnished vision. The Outlook’s recommendation: Elect Casey Ryan as Troutdale mayor.