Former Mayor John Kovash wrote a letter of support published in the West Linn Tidings on March 5, 2015:
In just over two months we the voters of West Linn will elect a new mayor. There are two people running. I have worked with both of them and they could not be more different and who is elected mayor will impact the life of every citizen in this city.
The recently approved Arch Bridge Concept plan shows the contrast between the two men.
The current zoning of the area is mostly commercial and the current owners can develop their property at any time. But the area is poorly used, and what should be a great gateway to West Linn overlooking the Willamette just isn’t. Many residents think this should change.
So, starting more than two years ago, hundreds of citizens were involved in re-imagining where and how they would like to see development in the city. One area they chose was the Arch Bridge area.
Our city staff pursued and won a $220,000 grant from Metro for developing, with citizen input, a professional plan for the area. The consultants brought together professionals from various fields: transportation, economics, construction, financing and planning.
Those professionals worked together with citizens from all over the city. They had open houses, walks and a citizens committee: anyone who wanted to participate could do so. These citizens expressed what they wanted built in the area and there was much discussion with ODOT about traffic, land owners about structures and construction and finance folks about what was possible. They presented updates on their work to the city council and the planning commission on several occasions to unanimous approval.
After months of hard work the citizens committee presented their concept plan to the council where the concept was approved by all council members including one who is currently running for mayor: Thomas Frank. The plan now goes to the planning commission for additional citizen review, and much further work to flesh out and detail the plan.
In January the second person running for mayor, Russ Axelrod, became a councilor and started presenting his plan, or should I say plans. His first presentation was to council and our planning consultant where he thought buildings should be constructed over the freeway. The consultant calmly told him the Federal Government would not allow such construction. His second plan was to build a plaza that he likened to Trafalgar Square. That magnificent square is in London, England and was built in 1845 by the British Empire. Councilor Axelrod didn’t mention where he would get the money and land for such a grand enterprise. His third and latest plan seems to involve a plaza and shorter buildings.
Finally, he has also suggested that West Linn give the $220, 000 in grant money back to Metro. He has not mentioned how we, the tax payers, are going to come up with the $220,000 that he wants to give away.
It is evident that while Thomas Frank takes a collaborative, professional approach to governance, Russ Axelrod does not appear to think problems through, seems careless with public funds and dismissive of the work of citizens and professionals.
The city is a $35,000,000 a year business and I hope in the coming election we elect a mayor who is thoughtful, competent and experienced. I hope we elect Thomas Frank.