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In a time of uncommon divisiveness,Lake Oswego needs Buck, Gudman, Manz

There are a lot of angry people in Lake Oswego.

They are angry about the handling of the West End Building and the redevelopment of the Wizer Block. About Common Core curriculum in their schools and zoning conflicts in their neighborhoods. About urban density and water projects and Sensitive Lands. And about what many see as a disconnect between the City Council, city staff and the citizens they represent.

The result has been a period of uncommon divisiveness. Despite the admirable efforts of Mayor Kent Studebaker and the current Council to restore civility, political discourse here has devolved into a series of accusations, insinuations, interpretations and, at times, intimidation. The idea of compromise — of not needing to always be right but simply to be heard — has all but disappeared.

That has to stop. And there is perhaps no better time to make it stop than Nov. 4, when Lake Oswegans have a chance to elect three city councilors who believe, as we do, that there is value in collaboration and that it is still possible to listen to all sides, filter the discussion through personal experience and expertise, and make decisions based on what is best for the entire community.

Joe Buck, Jeff Gudman and Jackie Manz all believe that.

“We may not see eye to eye, but we can work together,” says Buck. “It’s not about having the last word, but about coming together.”

Manz says her mantra is “Listen. Learn. Lead.”

“I am a firm believer in the idea that if you sit people around a table,” she says, “you can find consensus.”

Gudman says that people sometimes confuse “being heard” with being agreed with. “But I like to spend more time talking with people who disagree with me,” he says. “It forces me to clarify my thinking. It challenges my assumptions. And I need to be prepared to change my mind.”

The bottom line, Gudman says: “Don’t personalize differences, and live by that example.”

Their backgrounds are wildly different — Buck is a third-generation business owner, Gudman a sitting councilor, Manz a neighborhood activist. But all have proven through years of public service that they believe, as Buck says, that “we represent everybody, and we have to get things done.”

All three deserve your vote.

Jeff Gudman

Gudman is by far the most qualified candidate, and at times it seems as if he was born to be a Lake Oswego city councilor. He loves public service and thrives on civic engagement, whether it’s at back-to-school nights, neighborhood association meetings or after introducing the band at Wednesday-night summer concerts.

But if his infamous colored sweaters aren’t enough to win you over, his almost wonkish knowledge of the intricacies of city government surely should. Gudman is the acknowledged Council leader on all things related to the budget, and he is quick to tell you that his first filter when looking at any issue is a financial filter: He will challenge assumptions; he will seek options and alternatives; and he will insist that the city live within its means by prioritizing spending to avoid raising taxes.

Gudman led the charge to build a much-needed operations and maintenance center using existing resources, crafting a plan that trimmed costs by $5 million; new police/911/LOCOM facilities also will be completed without asking taxpayers for more money. For Gudman, fiscal responsibility isn’t posturing; it’s critical thinking.

He has taken a leadership role in transportation issues, with the goal of reducing unfunded road maintenance projects to zero within five years and converting the trolley line into a bike/pedestrian pathway. And at a time when many citizens are suspicious of a staff-driven agenda, Gudman has nurtured a relationship with city planners and analysts built on mutual respect. That makes him a key ally in the debate over density and redevelopment.

Joe Buck

Buck will be a key ally, too, especially for those who often feel that their voice is not heard at City Hall: small-business owners, the Lake Grove community and, perhaps most importantly, younger generations of Lake Oswegans. “I will make sure that we look forward,” Buck says. “I will always think about what will keep Lake Oswego relevant to future generations. I will be a voice for the people who aren’t even here yet.”

Buck grew up in Lake Oswego before leaving for college at the University of Portland and a job at a small accounting firm. But he says he always knew he’d come back to the family business, and he is the third generation to run Gubanc’s Pub and now its Lake Grove neighbor, Babica Hen Café — restaurants that provide jobs for 65 employees in Lake Oswego. “My whole life is here,” he says.

Buck is a member of the Chamber of Commerce board and its government affairs committee. He also serves on the board of the Lake Grove Business Association and has played a key role in the development of the Lake Grove Village Center plan. As a member of the Lake Grove Urban Renewal Task Force, he sought out the best financial tactics for funding large projects.

Buck understands not only how to run a successful business and keep it profitable, but also the role small businesses play in keeping a community vibrant and alive. At City Hall, he will work to make sure the city lives within its means, but he will also seek out ways to increase the tax base in what is essentially a built-out town. That means creating a clear and objective development code that isn’t confusing and open to interpretation, of course, and Buck is the right person to play a key role in that critical effort.

Jackie Manz

You can expect Manz to take a close look at development codes, too, if only because conflicts based on misunderstandings of code have played a direct role in her life.

Manz is vice chair of the neighborhood association in Hallinan Heights, an area that has been rocked in recent months by redevelopment plans that have pitted neighbor against neighbor. But in the midst of the anger and divisiveness, Manz has been a voice of calm and reason. She is a consensus-builder, and she will use that skill to help clarify and simplify the code and make it more user-friendly.

Manz also intends to play a lead role as the Council works to modify the Sensitive Lands program and find a balance between individual property rights and the need to protect legitimate natural resources. With expertise gained from her service on the city Budget Committee and as the owner of her own business, she also will work to meet the current and future financial needs of the community while maintaining fiscal restraint.

Perhaps most intriguingly, Manz has an impressive background in the tourism industry, having served as a member of the Oregon Tourism Commission and its Sustainable Tourism Advisory Committee. With so much of the recent debate over the Wizer Block centering around the need to attract new residents, diners and shoppers to downtown Lake Oswego, Manz’s expertise could prove invaluable.

Uniting Lake Oswego

But what will prove even more invaluable is this: Jackie Manz will listen to all Lake Oswegans and then make what she feels is the right decision. Joe Buck will have an open mind and not let the loudest voices dictate policy. And Jeff Gudman will always believe in the importance of nurturing relationships, because he knows that his opponent on one issue could be his ally on the next.

No matter how angry you are about any of the issues facing Lake Oswego, you have to admire that. And on Nov. 4, you should elect Buck, Gudman and Manz to the City Council.

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