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Citizen's View: Bugs, Daffy and the race for LO mayor

A bit of humor introduced into politics might serve us all well just now. So at the risk of bringing on the ire of my two opponents for mayor and the blogs from their supporters, let me quote a funny truism and how I think it applies to leadership of Lake Oswego.

Television journalist Jeff Greenfield said, “In politics, Bugs Bunny always beats Daffy Duck. Daffy’s always going berserk, jumping up and down, yelling. Bugs has got that sly smile, like he always knows what’s up, like nothing can ruffle him.”

Here is the application to the mayor’s job in Lake Oswego: I’m more like Bugs than Daffy. My friends comment that I need to react more. That’s not my style, and I don’t think angry reaction serves Lake Oswego very well at all. But over the next several months, you are going to see a lot of jumping up and down and strong critical words from my opponents.

On one side of me is an opponent who will loudly try to persuade you that the sky is falling, all is darkness in this city and only he can lead you into the sunshine. On the other side is an opponent who thinks the City budget is like elastic, and that his pet programs should be in the budget. He will vociferously try to persuade you that they, in addition to everything else, can all be paid for without raising your taxes.

Like Bugs Bunny, I am smiling here in the middle. Three and a half years ago, I knew what was up, and with teamwork and trust from council members, we righted a very shaky budget, invested in priorities this community laid out for us and put this city in a position to go forward into a great future.

Opponent Jon Gustafson says he doesn’t know anyone who moved to Lake Oswego because of the quality of our pavements. With a smile, I reply that a first-rate city needs first-rate infrastructure in order to attract new taxpaying residents and businesses to support our schools. Prioritizing infrastructure, police, fire and operations may sound boring, but we still generously supported parks and the arts and set aside $400,000 for bikeways and pathways without raising taxes.

Opponent David Berg criticizes our efforts on Sensitive Lands and the Tree Code. But we pushed as far as we could on Sensitive Lands; our only other recourse would have resulted in a costly lawsuit that would have to be paid by taxpayers and potentially result in increased taxes. I would have gone further on the Tree Code, but successful governing is about compromise. We have loosened the code, and I smile and say that being mayor of Lake Oswego is not a dictatorship — consensus must be built with the council.

So back to ducks — but this time, not Daffy! Judge and humorist Jacob Braude said, “Always behave like a duck — keep calm on the surface, but paddle like the devil underneath.”

I look forward to four more years of paddling like the devil underneath and heading a team of responsible, dedicated councilors. Lake Oswego is headed toward a very bright future.

Kent Studebaker is the mayor of Lake Oswego. He is seeking re-election to the office in the November general election.