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Did Lake Oswego get the council we voted for in 2012?

“A fool and his money are soon elected”

— Will Rogers

During the past year, I have received emails, phone calls and comments regarding the outcome of the 2012 election. It’s been interesting to hear from so many citizens about their views on the priorities within our community.

In 2012, there was a lot of hope and a very real expectation for dramatic change from the City Council. I often use the term “reform council” to express voters’ expectations for the group elected in 2012. It’s clear our community was very unhappy with the direction and the attitude of previous administrations. That resentment resulted in a clear vote for change and an optimistic view of the potential for a new direction in Lake Oswego.

I took over as chair of the Citizens Budget Committee with the new 2012 administration. I admit that I shared the optimism within our community. It was clear that fiscal responsibility was paramount in the minds of voters, and it is a core value with me. I had championed this term before it became de rigueur, and it’s been quite humorous to see some “tax and spend” officials take up that mantra, despite their consistently opposite behavior.

I do believe we have made progress in redirecting the course of our local government. But is it enough? Many are now telling me we still have much more to do. We have reduced positions, redirected funds to streets, established a debt policy limiting our total debt and added to our reserves. Still, the core issues like Sensitive Lands, water rates and the WEB have not been resolved. It seems that our leadership cannot find a clear pathway to closure on these key issues. That’s something for all of us to reflect upon, because resolving them requires decisively committed transformational leadership.

That is what many thought we voted for in 2012.

Today, residents quietly express disappointment, not only in terms of the resolution of core issues, but also in the inconsistent positions of some on our council. My perception is the community wanted a true “reform council” that would implement transformational change and avoid the negative controversial issues often driven by outside interests. The consensus opinion is that we aren’t there yet.

Over the past two years, we have observed some change, a slightly different attitude and several controversial issues driven by regional interests. How these issues are resolved will tell us a lot about what is needed to ensure we preserve our community character. The next few months should be very enlightening for most residents in Lake Oswego.

Will we see closure on the unresolved issues? Did we get the council we voted for in 2012?

The answer is that we only got some of it, some surprises we didn’t expect and some enlightenment regarding our elected officials. Maybe this council hasn’t gone as far as we wanted, but as one citizen put it, “Just look at the alternative.”

While reform never really comes swiftly enough, 2014 offers voters the opportunity to hold our elected officials accountable for their decisions. Let’s ensure we elect candidates who will continue the redirection toward a local government that respects its citizens and resolves issues to preserve our exceptional community.

Dave Berg is a 23-year resident of Lake Oswego, chair of the Citizens Budget Committee and a board member of COLA LO.

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