At the risk of losing my readers by quoting a journalist, I’m going to do so anyway, because it makes a point I want to expand upon. Edwin Heathcote of The Financial Times, writing about “livable” cities, said that “If everybody is where they want to be, no one is going anywhere.”

That quote came back to me recently, as I filled in yet another one of the myriad of questionnaires. This one asked what would make Lake Oswego more “livable.” I answered by saying that this “livable” city is at a crossroads, and that it has the potential to become not just livable but a “great” city, if it matures with purpose. Just being “livable” must not cause us to become complacent and to not choose a “great” path forward.

To mature and become great, we must move forward responsibly, and without city government leaving huge credit card debt with current citizens and with the next generation of Oswegans. Our city can become great if we prioritize and excel in doing the fundamentals that attract families to our community. It will be a great city, if we work in tandem with our citizens and respect their rights and their views. Lake Oswego will be a great city if its leaders have a clear idea of the costs of all projects and where they fit into a big picture plan. A great city should have a city government that will have the courage and judgment to say yes to the best and no to the rest. Lake Oswego will become a great city if it projects an attitude of being a willing partner with business. It will be a great city if it has the right transportation systems delivering service to the existing population centers.

I am very excited about the future potential for a “great” Lake Oswego. I know it can become a dynamic city, known throughout the region as a city with a strong, independent voice. It should not be a shy suburb of Portland. I know that this city can have a great, fiscally stable future with a sustainable population and environment. With all of that will come some tough choices and, yes, probably some disagreements.

Recently a drumbeat seems to have started in our city that tries to suggest that choices divide us and disagreements are divisive. I think disagreements and differing views should all be part of a healthy debate — especially when one is talking about something as important as not just a “livable” Lake Oswego but the future of a “great” Lake Oswego. Respectfully sharing and listening to diverse views will result in creative options and fresh new ideas. I am not only very comfortable with differing views — I welcome them.

Let me close with another quote, this one from Winston Churchill. He said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.”

Lake Oswego’s future greatness relies on responsible leadership. Its greatness will need the combined judgment of many. Its future path to greatness will indeed stir up differing opinions and preferred choices. All should be heard and respected — then we will be going somewhere.

Kent Studebaker is a candidate for Lake Oswego mayor.

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