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Citizen's View: Who should be in charge of LO? Someone who listens to citizens

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope” — Robert Kennedy

Voters in 2012 elected a new administration with very high hopes for reform. I had hope that the system was once again righted on the side of the citizens of this great community. Unfortunately, many citizens are now telling me they are disappointed with the results after four years, and that the community elected leadership which did not listen to their concerns.

A resident told me, “It used to be that the city worked for us. Now it seems like it is the other way around.” This unsolicited comment illustrated a belief that many residents communicate to me as I meet with them throughout our town. It represents that our leadership has a top-down attitude rather than listening to the needs of those whom they serve and represent.

This doesn’t apply to everyone. We have some excellent departments and staff members in Lake Oswego. They listen to our citizens and do their best. I am proud to work with them, because they get projects done and provide services which improve our quality of life. Unfortunately, staff doesn’t always get the best guidance from our elected leadership. Why? They use their office to further their personal social agenda rather than caring for the priorities of the community.

This difference between the hope of 2012 and the current feeling many citizens have revolves around the simple question, “Who should be in charge?” Is an elected official elected to listen, reflect and execute the objectives of our citizens? Or are they elected to implement their personal agenda based upon their popularity?

The difference between these two views is stark. The answer determines how you view your duty as an elected representative and your obligation as a long-term member of this community. It also translates into whether you believe in listening to our community or feel that because you were elected, your listening days are over, until the next election.

It’s the City Council’s obligation to always listen to our citizens, act to improve the lot of our community within our means and prioritize a well-defined direction — not to act as members of the political elite or any social order, but as citizens’ representatives to promote good governance through each decision.

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with this role once elected. This was made very clear to me by a call last month from a sitting city councilor who asked me to drop out of the race “to preserve the status quo.” I am, however, a qualified citizen, and I said quite vocally that I will not drop out of this race!

I would like to thank all the people I have met since my announcement who continue to provide open, honest and insightful feedback. It’s a humbling experience when you actually listen to our residents. If we all stand for the ideal of Lake Oswego, and create a thriving environment for the benefit of every citizen, then we have created an optimistic and stable future.

That is the reason I am running for mayor.

Dave Berg is a 26-year resident of Lake Oswego. Currently a candidate for mayor, he was recently elected to his third term as chairman of the Citizens Budget Committee.