Challenger emerges in race for Tualatin mayor
Jan Giunta steps up to challenge Mayor Lou Ogden for Tualatin's top job
Jan Giunta never had intentions of running for mayor she never really had intentions of being involved in politics at all.
Until she turned her petition in last week, shed been holding out hope that someone else would step up to race against incumbent Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden, so she wouldnt feel compelled to.
Hes just been too long in office and hasnt had an opponent, 70-year-old Giunta said. Its healthy for our democracy. Lou (Ogden), for the first time in 20 years, is going to have to talk about issues, and hes going to have to defend his record. Hes going to have to talk about what his future is.
An active community member, Giunta ran for City Council in 2012, marginally losing to Monique Beikman. Since its formation, Giuntas been the president of the River Park Citizen Involvement Organization, a concept she helped spearhead in Tualatin about five years ago. The CIOs began as a response from Giunta and others to what they felt was a lack of conversation between city officials and the people they serve. Tualatins CIOs were born as a way to bridge the gap between citizen and leader, with the goal that enough conversations would ensue for officials to understand what the community wants and needs.
Its with this mindset that Giunta is approaching her run for mayor. She believes in conversations first, detailed planning later. Not thrilled about the idea of competing for the position, the reason Giunta feels prompted to run at all stems from two decades of watching what she feels is a lack of citizen-first governing. Giunta has seen numerous plans, such as one for a town center and another for a recreation center, be completed only to fall at the hands of voters. From her perspective, this was wasted money and resources. If the city had conversed more with citizens about the scope of each project, they might have known it wasnt something people wanted, Giunta said.
When we have a major issue, (when) its expensive, and it will impact the community, it needs to go to the public, and they need to be educated on the different issues, she said. We need to understand, we need to have them reach a consensus so we know what the majority wants. Will they support a bond, or are we going to spend $10 million in planning and then have them reject the bond?
Giunta is worried that issues such as light rail, new city hall and a potential water source transfer wont be brought to the publics attention in time for an informed decision to be made. Her concern is not that putting energy into planning something is bad, but that its wasted if the public hasnt been asked if itll even support it in the first place.
Her concerns with light rail go a step further. Shes come up with a plan she thinks will be cheaper and ultimately better for Tualatin. Giunta is worried not only about the money it costs to build high-capacity transit, but with the minimal space Tualatin has to work with. She thinks a SMART bus system, such as that in Wilsonville, would be cheaper, easier and work better with Tualatins needs.
I believe (light rail) will bring in more traffic. My solution is to go with a local transit system. It could be a combination of the larger buses and the smaller buses, Giunta said. It would begin to solve our problems. Because youre going to have to have multiple solutions to solve the traffic problem.
Giunta knows her solution isnt the end all be all, but she thinks its a viable solution to a difficult traffic problem. At the very least, she wants to see discussions about potential solutions, instead of the ultimatum she feels has been given.
Lou (Ogden) has a vision of Tualatin, and his vision is high density. Thats not the vision that I have of Tualatin, and thats why Im running, Giunta said. Right now, Im just trying to protect my little part of the world.
She moved here in 1991 to pursue a job in commercial real estate, a field she stayed in for 30 years. Two of her children and her three grandchildren live in town, and you might have seen her on one of her twice-daily walks through the parks with her Pomeranian, Tater. Giuntas life isnt consumed with the possibility of mayorship.
Im going to work as hard as I can to win, but it wont shatter my life if I lose. It wont be the end of my life. she said.
For nearly the entire time Giunta has lived in Tualatin, Ogden has been in office. Whether she wins the race or loses, Giunta hopes her political participation will encourage others to do the same.
After all, she said, this is a democracy.Add a comment