After years working on policy issues from opposing sides, we decided to sit down, have lunch and get to know one another. It was time to find some common ground. It turns out we — a libertarian-leaning talk show host and a former Legal Aid lawyer — have a lot more in common than just a taste for Vietnamese food. KremerLininger

We both grew up in Oregon. We were both raised by school-teacher parents. We both left home to attend school in the East and came back to Oregon because we love this state. We educated our kids in the Lake Oswego schools. We also both believe that charter schools, such as the Clackamas Academy for the Industrial Arts, are a crucial part of a top quality public school system.

Over the last few years our community has dealt with some divisive issues. Lake Oswego residents have sparred over how to protect sensitive lands, the right level of density for our neighborhoods and how to use scarce transportation dollars. Robust disagreement is OK; it can even be a sign of community strength — particularly when it is paired with an equally zealous search for ways to work together.

That is the opportunity in front of us now. On Nov. 5, voters will decide whether to renew the Lake Oswego local option school levy. This levy, which the community has approved in several prior elections, provides around $7 million per year, or 10 percent of our school budget, to employ teachers and keep class sizes down.

Lake Oswego’s schools have a proud history of serving the community well. The simple fact is, the state allocation to K-12 education over the last decade has not kept pace with the increased cost of a topnotch school system. That is why Lake Oswego voters decided to pass the first local option levy back in 2000.

And that is why it is important to renew the levy now. Renewing this levy will serve both the families who use our public schools and homeowners who want to safeguard their property values by protecting our town’s reputation for educational excellence.

This vote presents a chance for community members who may have vehemently disagreed on some other local policy issues over the last few years to work together in support of a common goal.

In September the Lake Oswego Review ran an editorial about Clackamas Women’s Services, which, together with many partners, is rallying people in our diverse county perspectives to create a one-stop service hub for families in crisis. (Family Justice Center Finds Common Ground, Sept. 26.) The editorial noted that “when (community) leaders do find common ground, the results can be very powerful indeed.”

This November we have a chance to create powerful results. We can work to renew not just our school levy, but also our community — by affirming there are still more values that unite us than divide us. We may not all have a chance to meet for Vietnamese food, but we can all rally around a powerful common cause.

Rob Kremer, Portland, is an education advocate who formerly served as treasurer of the Oregon Republican Party. Ann Lininger, Lake Oswego, is a manufacturing executive who formerly served as a Democratic Clackamas County commissioner.

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