Joe Buck kicks off run for Metro
Lake Oswego City Councilor Joe Buck officially kicked off his campaign this week for a seat on the Metro Council at an event held at his Babica Hen restaurant in Lake Oswego.
Addressing a crowd of approximately 60 supporters — including numerous city officials and other members of the community — Buck talked about his experiences growing up in Lake Oswego and helping at his family's restaurants. He said that assisting customers became the foundation of his drive to continue serving the community.
"I knew I wanted to take that service and do more," he said.
Buck is seeking an appointment to Metro Council District 2, which includes Lake Oswego, West Linn, Milwaukie, Oregon City, Gladstone and Happy Valley. The nonpartisan seat was held by former Metro Councilor Carlotta Collette until Jan. 2, when she stepped down to move to Corvallis.
The remaining six members of the Metro Council must choose an appointee to replace Collette by April 2, three months after her departure. Applications are due by March 1, and the council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the vacancy at 6 p.m. on March 8 at the Willamette View Terrace Auditorium (12705 S.E. River Road in Milwaukie).
Collette's term expires at the end of 2018, so the seat will also be on the ballot in this year's election. The appointee will need to run in the May primary and win the November general election in order to retain the seat for a full term starting in 2019.
Buck has said his current campaign is intended for both the appointment and the primary election in May, and that he will continue to campaign in the primary regardless of whether he secures the appointment.
So far, three other candidates have filed to run for the seat in the primary: Betty Dominguez of Oak Grove, Carol Pauli of Oregon City and Christine Lewis of West Linn. All three are also seeking the appointment to serve out the rest of Collette's term.
At the kickoff event, Buck outlined an agenda that includes affordable housing, improved roads, safe communities, reliable public transit and support for small businesses. He placed a particular emphasis on ensuring that residents in the Metro area can secure good-paying jobs close to where they live.
Those opportunities are becoming harder to find, Buck said, citing his own experience as an employer. Many of his restaurant employees now commute to work from places as far away as Salem and Vancouver, he said, and the lack of frequent and reliable bus service to Lake Oswego makes the trip increasingly difficult.
When prospective new employees ask for directions to reach his businesses by bus for interviews, Buck said he's sometimes at a loss for what to tell them.
"I say pack a toothbrush and an overnight bag, because you're never going to make it (the same day)," he said.
He also talked about the importance of ensuring health care access for all Oregonians, including for mental health care, and the need for greater environmental protections.
Three current or former elected officials also spoke at the event and endorsed Buck: former West Linn City Councilor Jenni Tan, current Lake Oswego City Councilor Jeff Gudman and former Lake Oswego City Councilor Jon Gustafson. Mike Buck, Joe Buck's father, also addressed the crowd.
Tan outlined several of Buck's accomplishments as both a local business owner and a city councilor, including employing more than 100 people, pushing for the development of a residential composting program and spearheading the creation of the Lake Oswego Youth Leadership Council.
Gudman noted that he and Buck come from opposite sides of the political spectrum, but he said Buck "plays well in the sandbox" and listed a number of achievements that he said Buck and other councilors brought about by working as a team, including a new Operations and Maintenance Center, a replacement for Lake Oswego's aging City Hall and an upcoming Climate Action Plan for the city.
Gustafson served concurrently with Buck on the council in 2015 and 2016, and the two were frequently on the same side of issues. He praised Buck's record on the council and urged the group to support his Metro campaign in order to help spread his message.
Mike Buck thanked the Lake Oswego community for its support of his son, whose defining trait, he said, is "an abundance of common sense."
Joe Buck was raised in Lake Oswego and currently operates two restaurants in city, Gubanc's Restaurant and Babica Hen Cafe, as well as a second branch of Babica Hen in Dundee and a boutique inn in Oregon's wine country.
A veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, he earned a degree in business administration from the University of Portland. He initially worked in public accounting and also helped manage Gubanc's, which was founded by his grandfather and later run by his father. He eventually took over operations at Gubanc's, making him the third generation of the family to run the restaurant, and subsequently opened his other three businesses.
Buck was elected to the Lake Oswego City Council in 2014. His tenure has focused on advocating for progressive policies, including environmental protection, public transportation and engaging youth in local politics. He helped found Lake Oswego's Youth Leadership council in 2016 and serves as the group's liaison to the City Council.
Buck was among the candidates who sought an appointment last summer to represent Oregon House District 38 after former Rep. Ann Lininger was appointed to serve as a judge on the Clackamas County Circuit Court. He was selected as one of the Democratic Party of Oregon's finalists for the position, but the appointment ultimately went to Rep. Andrea Salinas.
If Buck is appointed to the Metro Council, the Lake Oswego City Council would need to appoint a replacement to serve out the remainder of his current term, which expires at the end of the year.