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Citizen's View: Great things happen in the center

Almost four years ago, I became mayor of this great community, saying that its citizens, its character and its future are all passions of mine. I feel the same now as I did then — only much more so.

In 45 months, we have faced challenges together with transparency and often robust discussion. But in my first term, we’ve turned down the temperature. We’ve come a long way from previous divisiveness and from the former ideological agenda which embraced Metro’s plan and was not one that would fit our community.

With civility and balance, we reset the table and united around what Lake Oswegans care about — our infrastructure, our roads, our first responders, our schools, our arts and our parks. With realignment of spending priorities, this city has regained its financial equilibrium.

I’ve said this before and I’m going to say it again: In Lake Oswego, we elect a mayor, not a dictator. The mayor is not a partisan position, and his or her actions on council should not be based on party politics. No one ideology can apply to all the decisions which must be made for the common good of this community.

We elect a mayor to lead an often diverse six-member council, and that takes building trust, teamwork and consensus. I’ve done that, not by perpetuating rancor or following a right or left ideological agenda. I’ve done it from the center.

There are people who think leading from the center and building consensus — and yes, even having to sometimes compromise — is a sign of weakness. To them I say: Nonsense!

In less than four years, we have stabilized a shaky budget, reduced our debt burden and reduced staff without reducing services, and now save taxpayers $2 million each year. We have managed the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership project within budget and reduced Lake Oswego’s share of the cost.

We have made Lake Oswego more attractive for businesses to stay or locate here. We have increased support for the parks, the arts, the library and, I must point out, we have created more bikeways and walkways than any other previous council. We have revised the Tree Code to make it less stringent and more flexible, reformed Sensitive Lands regulations to the maximum extent allowed by law and lessened the impact on private property. And we have implemented many new sustainability measures.

I led from the center to achieve all this. I didn’t impose a right or left agenda.

We have come far in less than four years. But we still have work to do and more to achieve.

I want to end my second term with a city still attracting people who want to belong and participate in everything this great city can offer them. Energy, synergy, affordability, livability and fiscal sanity must and will go hand in hand.

In order to achieve that, we must not return to the financial instability and the partisan polarization that existed prior to 2012.

I look forward to the next four years working with all Oswegans. It takes a team to get things done, and I look forward to again being captain of that team!

Kent Studebaker is the mayor of Lake Oswego. He is seeking a second term in the November general election. For more on his campaign, go to www.facebook.com/StudebakerForMayor or www.studebakerformayor.com.