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Bowerman announces resignation from Lake Oswego City Council

Longtime educator cites philosophical issues, but says 'health drives the decision my family has reached'


BOWERMANA tearful City Councilor Karen Bowerman announced Tuesday night that she will resign from the council ahead of its August recess.

Bowerman cited concerns about the direction of the city, saying "village character is not reflected in our decision-making processes, and we are not addressing all the issues, the real issues, of quality of life."

But she said her reasons for resigning were more personal than philosophical.

"As an individual, health drives the decision that my family has reached, and that decision affects where we shall live," she said. "Accordingly, I will be submitting my resignation from council."

She did not elaborate.

Bowerman, whose term was set to expire at the end of 2016, is the first councilor to resign from office since Mike Kehoe departed for California in August 2013. But she will be the fifth councilor to leave Lake Oswego altogether, either during or after the end of their current term.

In 2014, Bowerman ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, losing to Paul Savas. She made the decision to seek that seat after spending less than a year on the City Council.

Still, she brought decades of experience in the public and private sectors to the job, including more than 30 years in higher education as the Dean of the College of Business and Public Administration at California State University, San Bernardino, where she was named Dean Emeritus.

Bowerman earned a Ph.D. in Administration from Texas A&M University and a Masters in Speech Communication from Kansas University. She is the co-author of several textbooks on business leadership.

Her successor will be recruited through notices on the city's website, in city publications and in newspaper advertisements, which will posted after the council's July 21 meeting. If 10 or more applications are received, the council will appoint a three-member committee to recommend a final list for the full council to review.

After interviewing each of those candidates, the council will vote to appoint a replacement to fill out the rest of Bowerman's term.

Her fellow councilors seemed shocked by Bowerman's decision, reacting to the announcement with stunned silence. On Wednesday morning, Councilor Jeff Gudman told The Review that Bowerman "will be missed," a sentiment echoed by Councilor Skip O'Neill.

"She was a champion for the conservative cause," O'Neill said. "She held steadfast to her ideals, and I always appreciated that."

Councilor Joe Buck said Bowerman "had no qualms about sticking her neck out to sometimes be the lone councilor taking a certain position or asking pointed questions. The amount of time she spends preparing for her duties is evident in her intimate knowledge of agenda topics, and it is evident she digs well below the surface of every issue.  That attention to detail, dedication to the community and fearless leadership will certainly be missed."

Councilor Jon Gustafson said he wishes Bowerman and her family "the best of health and good luck with the next chapter of their lives," but he disagreed with her contention that the city is not addressing quality-of-life issues.

"In fact, those issues are front-and-center in every decision we make," Gustafson said. "The definition of 'village character' will continue to be debated, and although Karen does not believe it is reflected in our decision-making process, I am confident that Lake Oswego will continue to thrive and that quality of life will do nothing but improve."

Here is the complete text of Bowerman's announcement, which came in the final three minutes of a very busy council meeting:

"My family chose Lake Oswego as truly our dream community. Upon my retirement, when we could relocate, we were here the next day, literally.

"We had purchased a house with its own story to tell, because this year that home is 100 years old. We’ve invested to transform it into a home we dearly love. It is to us no longer just a house.

"I sought to contribute and give back to my community by being part of the City Council, (to) nurture what is best for the health and well-being of the city. We know there are passages in life, the life of a community and the life of an individual. Life in Lake Oswego is taking a character of a more dense profile, and from my vantage point, village character is not reflected in our decision-making processes and we are not addressing all the issues, the real issues, of quality of life.

"To those following council, it comes as no surprise, I’m sure, that there is a wide range of issues for which I have concerns, and in the proper forum, I’m very happy to discuss them — which is not tonight — and I will speak from my own experiences.

"But as an individual, health drives the decision that my family has reached. And that decision affects where we shall live. And accordingly, I will be submitting my resignation from City Council. Given council’s August recess, I bring it to public light tonight in the interest of courtesy to my colleagues and that also transitions for next fall will be well-planned.

"My personal ties with Lake Oswego are profound and shall continue. I intend giving heart and soul, for example, for development of a veterans’ memorial park that brings people from many walks of life together for a place of celebration and honor of family members and friends.

"Most of all, to the voters of Lake Oswego, I thank you for the opportunity to represent what I know and what I saw in your vote was the resounding mandate of the 2012 elections. And I thank you for that."

Reporter Saundra Sorenson contributed to this report. Contact Gary M. Stein at 503-636-1281 ext. 102 or gstein@lakeoswegoreview.com.

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