Congressman talks to LO business owners about economy

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, right, gets the lowdown on Lake Oswego business at Vic's Auto Center from Vic Keeler, left, and his brother Michael.Any sighting of a U.S. congressman is welcome in a local business.

Lake Oswego businesses had that opportunity on Monday when U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, of Oregon’s 5th District, stopped at several businesses in downtown Lake Oswego and Lake Grove.

“It was great to see him,” said Lisa Martinsson, co-owner of Glance Optics in Lake Oswego. “We were flattered he came.”

All of the warm greetings were appreciated by Schrader, who has seen public approval ratings of Congress sink to 15 percent. He was in Lake Oswego and West Linn to prove he was on the side of “the little guys.”

Schrader said, “The stupid sequester cuts were very harmful. They hurt schools and cities. I would like a chance to make a difference. There is a growing dissatisfaction with all of the partisanship in Congress. The rank-and-file guys are coming out against the leadership that drives us to left and right positions.”

One of the nicest things about a visit from a congressman is that you can put him on the spot. In a friendly way, of course. Steve Green at Alpine Outfitters asked Schrader about the chance for Congress to address the needs of small-business owners. Mainly money.

“The large corporations have (an estimated) $45 trillion in assets,” Green said. “Money is just flying off-shore into their bank accounts and they aren’t investing it in capital improvements or hiring more people. They don’t have any incentive now to start spending money in this way. The little guys like me would like to have access to credit.” by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Joe Buck, left, tells Congressman Kurt Schrader about the delicious hot waffles offered at Babica Hen in Lake Grove.

Schrader answered: “Regulators are applying too much scrutiny to Main Street, not Wall Street.”

At one business, the owners were even more glad to see Lake Oswego Mayor Kent Studebaker, who accompanied Schrader on the tour. They think he can have much more of an impact on their future than a member of Congress.

“We need to have a joint effort of private development in tandem with civic leadership to help produce the outcome we want,” said Bob Martinsson, co-owner of Glance Optics, which came to Lake Oswego a year ago. “We’re not concerned about the next year or two. What’s on the horizon for the next 10 to 15 years is more important. We need the same vision by our civic leadership that produced Lake View Village and Millennium Plaza Park.”

Schrader’s advice to the Martinssons was to “provide continuity so the game is not changed overnight.”

“He said it was up to business people here to have a vision of the future,” Bob Martinsson said.

Before his sojourn in Lake Oswego, Schrader made a stop in West Linn. He surprised sixth-grader Alex Wilson at Rosemont Ridge Middle School by showing up to respond to a letter Wilson wrote. As part of earning a Boy Scout merit badge, Wilson wrote a letter to Schrader outlining concerns about the threat of North Korean nuclear missiles. Schrader decided to answer the letter in person, much to the delight of Wilson and his classmates.

Schrader also visited Babica Hen and Vic’s Auto Center in Lake Grove.

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