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Fairview mayor shares his thoughts for 2014

Working together on council and with other cities is biggest priority for Mayor Mike Weatherby


by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - Fairview Mayor Mike Weatherby at Stomping Grounds coffee shop.Fairview Mayor Mike Weatherby will give his State of the City address the first week in March.

In anticipation, The Outlook met with the mayor to get his thoughts on the recent addition of a seventh councilor, proud moments in office and his top priorities for what may be his last year in office.

After serving three full terms — 12 years as mayor of Fairview — Weatherby plans to step down in November in support of Council President Lisa Barton Mullins, who is rumored to run for the position.

Over iced tea and orange juice at Stomping Grounds coffee shop, Weatherby began by saying he’d rather not talk about the past, but will focus on the future.

“We are now working on completing Park Cleone, a real jewel for us,” the mayor said. “It will really help to make historic Old Town a source of pride, and attract more people.”

This summer, the city put in a new play structure at the decades-old community park and plans to install features that will make it more wheelchair friendly.

Weatherby, a former correction hearings officer with a master’s degree in psychology, began serving on the Fairview Council and several local boards in the 1990s before he replaced Roger Vonderharr as mayor in 2002.

During the early part of his mayoral leadership, the council approved the replacement old city street lights and put limitations on obtrusive billboards in the 3.6-square-mile city home to around 8,920 people.

“The only one Fairview has is on the freeway,” he said. As mayor, he helped rename the freeway exit, formerly known as 207th Street, to something a little more city-defining, Fairview Parkway.

Weatherby said he is also the only mayor who has persistently called three- and four-city Mayors’ Business Roundtable meetings, hosting notable guests such as Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton and TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane. “I hope we’ll have more this year,” he said.

“I try to think outside the box and try different things.”

The Mayor’s Visioning Committee, charged with enhancing economic development in the city of Fairview, is one of his creations.

“At the time divisiveness (on the council) was really reigning, I wanted this to be made up of people who were not elected officials, but demonstrated knowledge of what the city is about,” he said. “They see a vision and direction for the city and were willing to listen to people.”

Seventh councilor

An unwillingness to listen and a divisive council has been a point of frustration for the mayor.

“I felt there were likely outside forces that interjected themselves, pushing their own agenda,” Weatherby said, explaining the split on the Fairview council without trying to further fuel tension between sides.

Weatherby said he is proud of the recent decision to appoint Ted Tosterud to the council.

“I am very impressed with him,” Weatherby said. “For one thing, he listens.”

When councilors couldn’t agree on a seventh councilor, the mayor said, “It doesn’t serve our citizens right.” But he thinks the council is ready to move forward.

Things appeared to be more relaxed after Tosterud joined the council for his first meeting. Weatherby would like to think there will be more emphasis on working together, but he’s not entirely convinced.

He hopes Tosterud will be a good neutral player.

Weatherby said Tosterud is thoughtful, asks great questions and has a good background.

“He actually listens to people. He’s easy to work with. If I talk to him about something, he’ll work with me. It’s not my way or the highway.”

Priorities

Among Weatherby’s top priorities for 2014 are promoting regionalism among the three cities — Fairview, Troutdale and Wood Village. Colloborate, communicate and coordinate is the motto for his method.

“I really think we can consolidate services and work together better,” he said.

Without a pact, the mayor is worried that in the future, smaller city governments such as Fairview’s won’t stand a chance against the more powerful forces of the state, county and metro.

At the end of February, Weatherby plans to push a resolution encouraging the other two cities to sign a written agreement between them, “We are going to do our part; I don’t know if anybody else is.”

This year, Weatherby also plans to call a meeting with all the mayors in Multnomah County in an effort to connect with cities on common issues such as gangs, low-income housing, transportation and TriMet.

“As I know, we are all working independently to get better transportation,” he said.

Weatherby would rather learn what each city’s needs are and see how they connect, then approach TriMet with a united message.

“To speak to an agency as big and powerful as TriMet, you have to speak as one voice,” the mayor said. “I think TriMet will listen if it is something that comes from the leaders of all cities.”

Weatherby said he also would like to see the three cities (Fairview, Troutdale and Wood Village) working toward a better fire services contract with Gresham.

The mayor said Fairview likely will stick to receiving fire services from Gresham. “It looks best to stay with Gresham because they are trying to amend things,” he said.

Stepping down

Weatherby said he’s not sure if he has the energy to serve another full term as mayor of Fairview.

He is convinced Council President Lisa Barton Mullins is best suited as his successor.

“I don’t see anybody other than Lisa who could provide the direction and the vision for this city,” Weatherby said.

However, the mayor said he likely would stay involved with city government.

He aims to hold a position on the budget committee and continue attending the Mayors’ Business Roundtable (which Barton Mullins plans to keep alive if elected).

And if for some reason, Barton Mullins didn’t run for mayor, Weatherby said, “I would step in in a heartbeat.”

He said, “I believe I have a real vision for Fairview and the whole area.”



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