Jon Gustafson will run for mayor of Lake Oswego
City councilor vows to prioritize ideas that 'improve our quality of life now and for the future'
City Councilor Jon Gustafson announced Monday that he will run for mayor of Lake Oswego in November.
Gustafson, who was elected to the council in 2012, becomes the third candidate to seek the citys highest elected office. At this point, he will face incumbent Mayor Kent Studebaker, who announced in December that he will run for re-election; and Citizens Budget Committee Chairman Dave Berg, who made his intentions known in May.
The filing period for candidates seeking office in the general election ends at 5 p.m. on Aug. 30.
Lake Oswego needs a leader with the experience, vision and enthusiasm to provide a balanced approach that tackles our existing challenges, Gustafson told The Review, but who also prioritizes common-sense ideas that improve our quality of life now and for the future.
Gustafson described himself as highly invested in the community of Lake Oswego. He has worked in the city since 1998 and lived here since 2006. His daughter attends school in Lake Oswego, which he said was one of his main reasons for moving to the city.
I didnt move here until we found out we were going to have a daughter, he said. We moved here, like a lot of people do, for the schools and the quality of life.
Gustafson's first involvement with the citys government came when he volunteered to serve on an Infill Task Force, charged with evaluating code updates that would bring new developments in First Addition more in line with existing houses. After that, he served on the Planning Commission for several years before deciding to run for a council seat in 2012.
The writing was on the wall at that point once you start to see whats going on at City Hall, he said. It really opened my eyes to how much impact the City Council had on the direction the city went.
Gustafson said he ran for City Council in 2012 partially at the urging of other councilors and community members. He describes the election that year as a pivotal one in which several other candidates ran on a platform in opposition to the direction of the city at the time and many of them won.
As a result, Gustafson said he found himself representing the minority viewpoint on a lot of council issues over the past few years. He says its not the position he expected to be in, but he is proud of what he and the council have accomplished.
In the end, Ive found I really have made a difference, he said. Not in as many ways as I wouldve liked, but I think that just being a voice at the table has made a difference on a lot of issues, and there have been a lot of outright successes, too.
Gustafson said that as a city councilor, he has given voice to issues that are important to the citizens of Lake Oswego, advocating for increased or dedicated funding for sidewalks, pathways, bike lanes and other active transportation improvements.
He has also argued successfully for a variety of sustainability issues, including the re-designation of Lake Oswego as an EPA-rated Green Power Community and the establishment of a citywide residential composting program. Gustafson also spearheaded an effort to bring more solar power to the city.
In Lake Oswego, councilors are limited to two consecutive terms as either a council member or mayor, so Gustafson says his decision to run for the mayors office is aimed at making a bigger impact during his second term.
For this round, he said, how can I continue to be effective and ideally be more effective for the next four years? Thats going to be as mayor.
Gustafson said he believes Lake Oswegos future is bright, but he expressed concerned about the current direction of the city.
Although road maintenance is important and should be a priority, it should not be our only priority, he said. I dont know anyone who says they moved to Lake Oswego because of the quality of our pavement.
Gustafson said he supports the construction of a municipal broadband network that would provide super-fast internet access to every resident. Also high on his list of priorities: serving the needs of Lake Oswegos aging population and making the city more attractive to young families.
A community pool is one of those assets that could serve both the needs of our senior community with opportunities for low-impact exercise, as well as young families with swim lessons and sport and recreational opportunities, he said, adding that the city should partner with and support the Lake Oswego School District by managing and operating a new facility.
Gustafson said he believes the city can continue to meet the needs of today while planning and investing for the future. The council has been good stewards of the publics money, he said, and I believe we can continue that stewardship while investing in needed infrastructure improvements and vital community services, maintaining our AAA bond rating, and without raising taxes.
To do that, he said, the city needs to view its public employees as part of the solution and not part of the problem.
There has been far too much discussion on reducing the number of hard-working city employees and not nearly enough discussion on finding efficiencies that help enhance services in the wake of deep cuts made during the recession Gustafson said. Put simply: Its time to reinvest in Lake Oswego.
Gustafsons decision to run for mayor drew quick support in the community.
I was really excited to hear that Jon decided to run for mayor. said school board member Sarah Howell. He has been a distinctive voice on the council, and one that really understands the issues important to young families and our schools.
Lake Grove Business Association Director Mike Buck said Jon is thoughtful and took the time to learn about the challenges were facing, and then worked to find solutions. I think hed be a very effective mayor for Lake Oswegos small businesses.
Gustafson is a businessman himself. He is co-owner of Beals Design-Build, a local remodeling company, and is also a licensed real estate broker with Windermere Realty Group. He studied political science and urban planning before earning his bachelors in architecture from Portland State University.
Gustafson lives in the Old Town neighborhood with his husband, Michael, and their 10-year-old daughter Georgia. If elected, he would become Lake Oswegos first openly gay mayor.
I dont think its a big deal, he said, but I do think it reflects positively on the kind of community Lake Oswego really is. There are all types of families here. We are not the stereotype that some people think we are."