Woodruff reflects on an eventful four years
During her term the council tackled growth issues, hired multiple city managers
Outgoing Newberg City Council member Lesley Woodruff joined city governance in a similar manner as her replacement, although with more prior experience on city committees.
She had served on the Traffic Safety Commission for six years, joining in part to advocate as a pedestrian and bicycle commuter. Then, during the summer of 2012, she learned nobody had filed to run for an upcoming council vacancy in her district, which covers the downtown core.
"Thus began my political career," Woodruff said with a laugh. "There was a need and I thought, well, I could fill that need."
Four years later, what stands out to her as noteworthy about the council is primarily the demeanor and respectfulness of her fellow councilors. Even during contentious hearings and disagreements, after the vote was over the council would turn the page and start fresh, Woodruff said.
She didn't come to the table with specific issues she wanted to address, although pedestrian and bicyclist safety were still topics she wanted to promote.
But any notions she had about what she was getting into were likely different than the reality. The four years of her term saw plenty of unexpected events that the council had to deal with. Woodruff said she wasn't expecting to be part of so many hiring processes (after former city manager Dan Danicic resigned in the summer of 2013, the city went through a process to hire Jacque Betz; when she resigned in 2015 the city hired interim manager Steve Rhodes, who took the reins while the city conducted a manager search that ended with the hiring of current City Manager Joe Hannan).
"The city's really had to focus on other issues," Woodruff said, which meant it sometimes didn't seem like the right time to bring up the transportation and community improvement issues that she was interested in.
Still, there were plenty of non-personnel-related topics the council tackled during Woodruff's tenure, and she got an early education in the kind of difficult decisions she would be asked to make.
"One of my very first meetings as a councilor we had a massive decision on the (urban growth boundary)," Woodruff recalled, "this issue that's gone back for years and years, and has years of future significance."
Issues like the UGB raised a quandary that would be repeated many times over the course of her term.
"I found often that some of those biggest decisions were the hardest ones, because both sides were right," Woodruff said. "There was merit for both sides, but I could only vote yes for one, and I couldn't not vote. So it was really hard to make a choice, what would be my personal choice for me and my family, and what's going to be the best for the whole community."
Besides the UGB, Woodruff identified the various Newberg-Dundee bypass dilemmas, the downtown re-visioning process and most recently the Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue trial contract, as some of the most important issues the council tackled during her term — all of which, she noted, are in some way related to the city's growth.
As other outgoing councilors have said in the past, Woodruff agreed the job is "definitely more than just two council meetings a month." With her own research and asking questions of city staff, attending events outside of council meetings, and being active in the community, it's a substantial time commitment.
Between those responsibilities as well as raising two children, serving as president of the parents club at Edwards Elementary School, and working almost full time at Joan Austin Elementary School — which involves attending work-related evening meetings as well — Woodruff decided not to run for re-election to the council this year.
But she stresses that her public service is not coming to an end.
"It's certainly not like I'm leaving community service," Woodruff said, adding that she's kicking around some ideas for what she will get involved with in the future, but hasn't decided just yet.