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From candidate to city councilor

Nov. 7, the day after the election, brought an odd sort of emptiness replaced for only a few days by the job of collecting lawn signs. Campaigning was a joy, but it was over. It would be two full months before being sworn into office. Waiting seems like time in slow motion. Bowerman

Attending city council after the election and sitting at the back of the chambers takes a different aura than it did as a candidate. My mind first wandered to the mundane: How will I ever organize for later retrieval the hundreds of pages of paper that arrive in preparation for every city council meeting? Next, my mind wandered on the pragmatic trail traced below.

Reality struck that these two months before being sworn in (on Jan. 8) offer precious time for transitioning from campaigning to governing. I certainly do not presume to have the answers, but at least there is time for reflection on what it means to be responsible for helping set public priorities, policies and strategic goals.

More than 10,000 Lake Oswego residents voted “Karen Bowerman.” Thank you for your confidence, and I recognize your trust is not for a candidate, but for a councilor.

We identify a loose connection between campaigning and governing because we know superficially that governing involves setting direction and policy for the city relative to the many campaign issues. The reality, however, is that campaigning has more to do with connecting to voters than it has to do with serious consideration of the leadership role one should play as an elected official.

Still watching from the back of chambers, I began reflecting on what governing really means and how history speaks to its meaning. Rousseau, for example, called for political entities to direct policies according to the general will, or in other words, to the community of citizens and not to the most powerful or aggressive minority. He also called for political entities to ensure that economic and social powers are responsive to the general will and not simply to build themselves. The general will would not ebb and flow with minority interests as they vary from week to week, but would become embodied for stability.

President Lincoln modeled to public servants the ability to use common sense in governing, drawing from disparate and sometimes-capricious interactions. A writer during the volatile time in history when Lincoln was president noted that for stability of direction, he did not attack every hazard. He appreciated what he called his public opinion baths that invigorated his perceptions of responsibility and duty, and on that basis moved forward assuredly.

A councilor in Lake Oswego has the benefit of well-structured neighborhood associations and multiple advisory boards for learning what people are thinking. We enjoy a well-educated and informed citizenry that appreciates common sense actions from city hall. These factors can benefit our city’s governance, and ultimately the test is how effectively the transition is made from candidate to councilor.

Happy New Year to you individually and to Lake Oswego’s community of citizens as a whole. I look forward to working with you as city councilor in 2013 and beyond. It is my desire to represent you well.

Karen Bowerman is a Lake Oswego City Councilor-elect.




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