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Citizen's View: Council should pick a like-minded replacement for Karen Bowerman

Our City Council is about to decide on a replacement for Councilor Karen Bowerman. Is this a chance to play crony politics, as happens with judicial appointments, and appoint a philosophy rather than a character replacement? Is this a chance for six people to change the makeup of a council that had been decided by more than 20,000 voters in 2012?

With this vote, we the voters will see which councilors vote to replace Bowerman with a like-minded citizen, and which try to bend the council to an agenda that voters rejected in 2012. We will be able to see and judge who respects the will of the people regardless of his or her own agenda, and who feels this is a chance to play kingmaker by telling the voters they were wrong in 2012 and replacing Councilor Bowerman with someone who does not share her values.

What are those values that gave Bowerman 20.2 percent of the vote in 2012, when she outdistanced Skip O’Neill by 803 votes and Jon Gustafson by 902 votes?

Bowerman concentrated on fiscal responsibility, rights of property owners, maintaining the character of our neighborhoods and focusing on what the citizens of Lake Oswego want for their town, not what Metro would like beyond the letter of the law and cooperative agreements. She wanted a town people of all ages could afford to come to and stay in.

Her fight was to make sure utility rates were as low as possible, considering the enormous debt we had been given by the previous administrations of Mayors Judie Hammerstad and Jack Hoffman; that City Hall worked efficiently; and that it was time to rein in the out-of-control spending on consultants prevalent in prior administrations.

Bowerman believed in private property rights and not capricious Sensitive Land mapping on our backyards. We were not to be another South Waterfront with a $400 million streetcar into Foothills, or six-story buildings that stuffed people into high-density living that only benefited the city’s tax base and allowed city officials to tax and spend more.

She believed the character of our neighborhoods were to be defined by those who lived there and not by what degreed planners thought was best in theory.

The Review has given us resumes of all the applicants. There is one or two who obviously share the same goals of Councilor Bowerman. There are several who have different views of spending priorities and a different vision of the role citizens play in defining our city.

A change of direction by the council should be left to the voters in 2016, not the six people on the current council. Councilors’ ethics will be on full display. We need to hold their feet to the fire and remember their vote here when they ask for ours in their re-election campaigns.

Let us not get lost in the argument of who is the best replacement, but instead choose the replacement who most shares the goals of Councilor Bowerman, who the voters elected.

David Barra is a longtime resident of Lake Oswego.

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