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Hoffman will not run again

Mayor says he feels it's time 'to pass the torch' in Lake Oswego
by:  Jack Hoffman

Lake Oswego Mayor Jack Hoffman will not run for re-election in November, he announced early this week.

He said after 12 years as a local elected official and 16 years of involvement in city affairs, he feels it's time to 'pass the torch.'

'I think it's time for somebody else to step up and run for mayor, to run for that leadership position in the community,' he said. 'My hope and expectation is whoever runs for council and for mayor will move the projects forward that we have continued to move forward: The comprehensive plan, the library and the First and B (North Anchor) project.'

Hoffman was elected mayor in 2008 after serving two four-year terms on the council, from 1998 to 2006. He said his decision not to seek a second term as mayor follows more than a year of contemplating today's political climate.

'The announcement has nothing to do with the streetcar or Foothills,' he said. The council unexpectedly pulled out of the regional streetcar project last week, putting the future of the Foothills redevelopment plan - closely linked to the transit effort - in question.

'Probably the thing that crystallized it the most was the December 2010 sensitive lands meeting at which we had to call in the police,' Hoffman said. 'That was kind of a defining moment for me. The tone of public discourse has become very negative and very personal; it doesn't speak well for our community.'

He feels the use of social media and online comments on newspaper websites and blogs have 'exacerbated the issue.'

'I think we need to get back to the issues as opposed to personalizing every disagreement,' he said. 'I don't know if the tone and tenor of the debate will change. I'm ready to pass the torch on to somebody who thinks he or she can do that.'

But while some people might accuse the council of being 'dysfunctional,' Hoffman said, he feels the group has actually accomplished a lot over the past few years: Digging up funding to buoy local public schools; finishing construction of downtown's Sundeleaf Plaza; installing the dock at Foothills Park; maintaining a high bond rating; finishing the Lake Oswego Interceptor Sewer project; delving into another major public works endeavor, the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership; and creating a long-term development plan for the Foothills district.

'The city's finances are in great shape,' he added. 'I think the council should be pleased or proud we affirmed that we protect natural resources and, at the same time, provided flexibility for certain property owners.'

Yet Hoffman is aware many of those property owners remain unhappy about the city's more than decade-old sensitive lands program, which sets stricter land-use rules on properties that contain tree groves or water resource areas.

'The biggest issue that seems to have generated the most unhappiness and discord and hard feelings is natural resource protection,' Hoffman said. 'We really worked hard at civic engagement and community engagement, and in the end it didn't satisfy the people who wanted to have the restrictions removed from their land.'

He maintains that the streetcar project, now suspended, is 'a good project, but in a bad economy.' And he has high hopes for the city's future.

'I think it's a great community, and I think the community needs to move forward,' Hoffman said. 'One of the concerns we hear is that people are concerned about change. And yet there's this inherent conflict in that. If you want to stay the same, to maintain the quality of community, you have to change, because the world changes.'

Hoffman lives in the First Addition neighborhood. He is an attorney at Dunn, Carney, Allen, Higgins and Tongue; he also has a bachelor's degree in zoology and a master's in environmental science.

His decision not to seek re-election opens up what could be a heated race.

Local election campaigns usually ramp up in mid-summer, with the official filing period typically in August.

As for councilors, Sally Moncrieff, Mary Olson and Bill Tierney are also coming up for re-election this year. The city's six councilors serve four-year terms and are elected at-large, with those receiving the most votes winning vacant seats.