We make choices every day. Most are trivial, some important. Rarely are they life or death. It was the latter that makes me a solid leader. During the eighth year of my life, along with five other family members, I sailed the South Pacific aboard a 50-foot sailboat. Much later, I followed this experience with an eight-year career as an engineering officer in the United States Merchant Marine.

Today's world requires leaders to understand the lessons that I learned at sea: live within your means; work to increase your means; be helpful; get along with others; and remain vigilant at all times. I came to value integrity and hard work, for those were the attributes that best served my fellow crew.

I am inspired to be your leader and am excited to announce my candidacy for West Linn City Council. This endeavor is heart-felt, and I am committed to winning the election on Nov. 4 and joining the leaders of a city engaged in positive transformation.

The main challenge facing West Linn is its ability to pay for services required of its citizens and businesses in an environment of declining federal, state and county support. This challenge is being played out in different ways throughout the country and is particularly acute in rural counties like Clackamas that have the added burden of providing rural services in the face of declining federal timber payments.

There is no easy fix to this problem, and it arises at a time when deferred maintenance on city streets has become a serious liability. It will be my top priority as a city councilor to ensure that the city is financially strong. I will draw on my experience as a financial consultant and certified financial planner to help citizens fully understand all of their options when it comes to having a fiscally sound city.

West Linn is the most beautiful city in the county. I am committed to keeping it that way. Parks are an important asset to the city and have been significantly improved over the past couple of years to accommodate the busy youth sports sector.

This important use must be balanced with maintaining natural areas with safe, well-marked walking trails. I will continue to collaborate with the West Linn Parks Board, Clackamas County Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Clackamas County Cultural Coalition and West Linn Trails Advisory Group to make sure visitors to our parks experience our natural and cultural heritage with ease and comfort.

When the Willamette Falls Locks funding crisis spurred the Governor's office to get involved, I attended every stakeholder meeting facilitated by Oregon Solutions because I saw it as an opportunity to address the larger issue of access to the Willamette riverfront. This is a complicated issue, with a diverse set of stakeholders that will require a level of collaboration not yet seen in Clackamas County.

By the time this letter goes to press, the West Linn-Oregon City Regional Tourism Planning Group, a spin-off from the Oregon Solutions group, chaired by mayors Norm King and Alice Norris, will have had its second planning meeting with Oregon State Parks regarding development of a master-plan for the stretch of Willamette River between the Clackamas and Tualatin Rivers. I intend to remain intimately involved in this process to ensure that West Linn's interests are protected.

While many people associate my leadership with business interests due to my long tenure with the West Linn Chamber of Commerce, my focus has been on building community. Under my leadership, the chamber embraced the mission of bridging community and business and accomplished it. Now, with your help I can make bridging the community and government my next mission.

Mark Buser is a West Linn resident and former chamber of commerce president.

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