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John L. Cook is Tigards next mayor

Son of former mayor rises to city's top job in general election


by: JAIME VALDEZ - Newly elected Tigard mayor John Cook greets supporters at an election night party Tuesday night. Cook, the son of former Tigard mayor John Cook Sr., who served in the 1980s.At a campaign party with supporters, John L. Cook fought back tears as he thanked his family, volunteers and everyone who donated money to his campaign.

“Whether you gave $20 or $2,000, every little bit of it helped,” he said.

Cook, a lifelong Tigard resident, defeated longtime City Councilor Nick Wilson Tuesday night to become Tigard’s next mayor.

Cook claimed about 1,000 more votes than Wilson, securing 53 percent of the vote over Wilson’s 46 percent based on early returns Wednesday morning.

The two candidates were running to fill the remaining two years of Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen’s term after Dirksen steps down in January to take on his new role on the Metro Council.

The two candidates waged a strikingly similar campaign, agreeing with each other on nearly every major issue, including the city’s plans to build a new water system with Lake Oswego by 2016, redevelopment in the Tigard Triangle and downtown and plans to develop the River Terrace area — an undeveloped part of the city west of Bull Mountain along Southwest Roy Rogers Road.

Cook said, in the end, it was his involvement with the community that gave him the edge in this election.

“I think that (the voters) like my commitment to the community and being born and raised here,” Cook said. “I still have a lot of roots here, and people can associate with Cook Park, my dad’s 25 years of service and my own involvement.”

Cook is the son of former mayor John E. Cook for whom Cook Park is named. Cook said his parents’ commitment to the community is what drove him to become active, serving on committees across the county, as well as being heavily involved in the Tigard Area Chamber of Commerce, coaching local sports teams and leading local Boy Scout troops.

Cook wasn’t sure what to expect going into Tuesday night’s general election, but knew many Tigard residents were pulling for him.

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Tigard mayoral candidate Nick Wilson checks early results at an election night party at Max's Fanno Creek Brew Pub in downtown Tigard. Wilson, a decades-long staple of city government, was endorsed by current mayor Craig Dirksen, lost the election to John L. Cook.
“People knocking on doors for me would come back and say, ‘John, these people already know you. They know you because you were their Boy Scout leader, their Little League coach and everything else along the way.’”

Cook, a certified public accountant in Tigard, called himself the underdog in the race, having never served on the Tigard City Council or the city’s Planning Commission like his opponent, Wilson.

“I saw it as a toss-up between me and Nick,” Cook said. “Until the votes came in, I really had no idea which way it was going to go.”

Wilson, who has served in various roles for the city for 19 years, said Wednesday that he wished Cook the best as he takes the helm of the city.

“Of all the people in Tigard, John is the only one who could have done what he did,” Wilson said. “He is so well known, and he put himself out there. He had been able to really make an impact on people, and that shows.”

Cook called himself a “consensus builder” and said he wants to make city government more accessible for residents by starting monthly community get-togethers to discuss issues informally with residents.

Plans for River Terrace and the Tigard-Lake Oswego Water Partnership will take up much of the discussion over the remainder of Dirksen’s term, as will plans for eventually bringing high-capacity transit to Tigard and beyond to Sherwood.

Wilson and Cook both supported a referendum before voters that asked whether voters should, or shouldn’t, have a say in plans for light rail.

That measure was easily approved by voters Tuesday. The measure would require the city to take a public vote before it raised taxes to build a light-rail line through town.

For Cook, the win is a long time coming. Cook said he knew growing up he would someday run for mayor. After Dirksen announced his run for Metro Council, Cook stepped up to the plate.

“For me, it was all about timing — it had to be the right timing,” he said. “If there was an incumbent running, I probably wouldn’t have run.”

Cook plans to run for his first full-term in 2014, when the remainder of Dirksen’s term ends.

As for Wilson, he said running for either City Council or the mayor’s seat in 2014 seemed “unlikely” the day after the election.

“But I have a history of going at things for awhile and then taking breaks,” Wilson said. “Would I run in two years? It seems sort of unlikely right now, but I have a lot of signs leftover, and I’m going to be keeping them. Let’s put it that way.”



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