A small-towner at his roots, councilor Drinkwine is hoping to bring four more years of service to Estacada

From his humble roots in rural Utah, Estacada’s Sean Drinkwine has learned the importance of hard work and commitment — two things he hopes to continue bringing to the folks of Estacada.

“I came from a very poor background,” he said. “We were 50 miles from the nearest city, and we couldn’t get to any colleges around, so I took a lot of night classes and anything else around when I could find them.”

With that dedication to educating himself, Drinkwine eventually ended up in the hospitality industry of Nevada. With time spent at the Atlantis Hotel and others in Reno, Drinkwine elevated himself to the position of district manager before deciding he'd had enough.

“I was getting to the point where I could only take the lights, glitter and noise that is 24/7 for so long,” he said. “That was a very busy life, and I was looking to quiet down.”

Yearning for the small-town feel he grew up in, Drinkwine was in contact with childhood friend Mary Whitney about what each of their futures would hold.

Turns out, Whitney had an idea for a mobile sign company in a small town outside of Portland, and Drinkwine was intrigued.

“I moved here and helped her move that, and now we’re married,” he said. “It’s the happy ever after song.”

Together with Whitney, the duo runs Whitney Signs, a company that knows firsthand how hard it can be to survive in a small town during a recession.

In fact, economic issues and the desire to bring jobs and people back to Estacada have inspired Drinkwine to seek a second term on the council.

Drinkwine joined the council in January 2009, and has been involved in numerous other organizations throughout the community as well. He has served as president of the Cazadero Heights Homeowners Association, director of the Estacada Area Chamber of Commerce, director of the Main Street Design Committee, director of the Estacada Development Association and director of the Tourism Board of Clackamas County.

“In the past, I thought I would come in, deal with the county and the state and get things going,” he said. “Then we hit a recession that took everything down overnight as grants through the county and state went bye-bye. Now there is a new set of thinking rules.”

Among the changes that Drinkwine is interested in exploring is the possibility of partnering with Sandy for a police force rather than outsourcing that duty to Clackamas County.

“We might be better off to go with neighboring cities who could use us right now,” he said. “Rather than using the county, which is farther away. I think right now we need to look to neighboring cities to grow stronger.”

While issues such as the police force in town are important to Drinkwine, it’s clear that the mission of bringing new jobs and people to town remains his top priority.

“I’d like to get a promotions crew to talk to folks about the space available,” he said. “We’ve always hoped people would move here, but we’ve never tried going out and getting them in here.”

The group Drinkwine envisions is one that would be a combination of people from across the city — from the chamber, the city council, Estacada Main Street and other organizations.

“It would be a representation of our whole city that would go out and talk to the county about what we have to offer, what we could do for people to move here,” he said. “We have a lot of beautiful buildings here without businesses in them, and we need to focus on things that would make us stronger, more vibrant and more attractive to companies.

“I love the small-town feel, but I want to make sure that we stay here.”

With ideas and plans like that, Drinkwine thought about running for mayor this November, but decided against it when fellow councilor Brent Dodrill entered the race.

“When I thought about what was best for Estacada, I knew a couple more years under my belt would help, and I know Brent is a good, wholesome man, and right now we need that,” he said. “A couple more years of seasoning won’t hurt, but I still want to be mayor someday.”

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