Frank should be West Linn’s next mayor

Published in the West Linn Tidings on May 7, 2015:

Listening to some local partisans it’s easy to get the impression that the upcoming mayoral election is nothing less than a contest between good and evil, and that if their candidate isn’t the next mayor of West Linn the city is bound for ruin.

Notwithstanding the dire, overwrought rhetoric that has often accompanied this election — much of it appearing in letters to the editor published in the Tidings — West Linn is actually fortunate to have two talented individuals stepping up to serve the city. And we commend both candidates, Russ Axelrod and Thomas Frank, for their service to West Linn thus far, and for their desire to continue their service to the city as its elected mayor.

While we believe that both Axelrod and Frank are equally sincere in their good intentions for West Linn, we do not believe that both are equally suited to be mayor.

Thomas Frank should be the next mayor of West Linn.

West Linn just recently emerged from an era of political tumult, during which the city was led by mayors who brought turmoil rather than stability, tarnishing West Linn’s reputation within the region.

In contrast to those dark days, members of recent City Councils have been able to work together, along with city staff, to move forward with city business. We do not share the oft-espoused opinion that councilors being able to reach consensus is a bad thing.

Frank — previously a planning commissioner, a city councilor for two years and council president for the last several months — has contributed to this new stability in West Linn government.

And, Frank told the Tidings Editorial Board, if he is elected mayor he will continue in the same vein: directing and working with city management and staff, as well as working toward consensus with his fellow members of the council.

On the other hand, Axelrod talks about “dysfunction” in city government and says he will work to restore public trust, telling the Editorial Board that there must be either a philosophical change within city management or, short of that, a staffing change in city management.

In this, Axelrod is intent on fixing something that isn’t broken. Worse yet, this talk of dysfunction propagates a skewed and divisive view of reality.

The 2014 West Linn Community Survey, conducted by DHM Research, found that 84 percent of residents polled responded favorably when asked, in general, if West Linn is a good place to live. When it comes to how the city communicates with residents, 80 percent of respondents were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the city’s efforts.

For the most part, West Linn residents are satisfied.

The idea that City Hall is rife with dysfunction, we believe, is the view of a minority of residents — albeit a vociferous minority — many of whom are understandably angry over the city’s approval of the LOT project, which Frank and Axelrod both opposed as planning commissioners. Others within this minority simply seem to have an unyielding opposition to most everything the previous City Council attempted.

Yet, despite the onslaught of opposition, the previous council, including Frank, was able to take a major step forward in redeveloping the arch bridge area, undertake a comprehensive road rehabilitation project and build a new, modern police station, among other accomplishments.

We think these things are significant, and good for West Linn.

We do not, for a moment, doubt Axelrod’s sincerity. His enthusiasm is apparent as he talks about his creative ideas for arch bridge redevelopment and improving the Highway 43 corridor, among others. The city is fortunate to have him on the council and we encourage his fellow councilors to give his ideas a fair hearing.

However, in our view, Frank has the experience and temperament — along with his proven willingness to work well within West Linn’s council-manager form of government — to lead the city toward continued stability and progress.

West Linn is moving in a good direction. Make sure it continues to do so. Vote for Thomas Frank for mayor.


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