Flags.' 'Pointer.' 'Clock.' Another arm is added. Then a leg. I can't ever win a game of hangman against my 8-year-old son. We play often, but this time the words he's chosen are different. And so is the hour on the clock. It's 12:30 a.m., and his words reflect objects in the room. Tonight he is patient, and I am so proud.

We arrived at Troutdale City Hall at 6:30 p.m. to get a front-row seat. He waits patiently for his turn. Over a bowl of Cocoa Krispies, two weeks ago, he asked me if he could speak before the mayor, like so many in our neighborhood were preparing to do. At nearly 10 p.m., it was finally his turn to speak. He addressed Troutdale Mayor Thalhofer and the City Council with great confidence. He pleaded with the mayor to stop a condominium development from being built in, and having access through, our Sedona Park neighborhood west of 257th Avenue. My pride was beaming.

As I looked around City Hall, I found that not only was my pride beaming for my son but also for my fellow neighbors. We have spent the last seven months working together toward a common goal; to stop this development. We had previously pleaded to our city's Planning Commission, but to no avail. So, here we were taking our plight before the mayor and City Council, and we were ready. We came in droves, and we wore badges in opposition.

Then something else happened that I didn't expect. My pride grew even bigger. Our mayor and City Council listened wholeheartedly to the citizens. They were patient, even when the clock approached 1:30 a.m. They genuinely cared about our plight and even made many suggestions on ways to satisfy everyone. Mayor Thalhofer addressed my son and thanked him for speaking tonight. He said that my son would always remember this day and hoped that he would be a leader in his community.

I told my son proudly, 'This is why we live in America, and this is why we live in Troutdale.' I told him this was a fine example of a city hard at work, and this is why it's OK for us to speak up when things in our neighborhood aren't going right. Pride. There! I finally won a game of hangman with my son. But it might have been because it was 1:30 a.m. and he was asleep, possibly dreaming of his next meeting with the mayor in three weeks.



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