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Marketing consultant says community 'at a pivotal moment in its development'

When I think back to my first moments here, I remember how much I loved Forest Grove from the very start. I felt grateful for the opportunity to live in a close-knit community surrounded by pastoral beauty. That was over ten years ago, and when my husband and I started our family, we moved back here because we knew Forest Grove would be the ideal place to raise our child.

Now a resident again, this time as a business owner, mother and volunteer, I see even more things to love, preserve and improve upon within our community. This is why I am applying to serve as a Forest Grove City Councilor, for the seat created by the resignation of Councilor [Matt] Vandehey.

As a member of the Committee for Community Involvement, I'm helping plan our Annual Town Meeting and work to engage the community in civic and political life. I'm helping plan the next Latino summit. Through my business, I work closely with our elected officials in Salem to pass laws that improve public health, our transportation infrastructure and create Clean Energy Jobs for Oregonians. I work with communities across Oregon on both sides of the political aisle, to create understanding and consensus on laws that move Oregon forward. I hone in on our shared values, and build upon the things we all care about to bring people together.

Our community is at a pivotal moment in its development. We are growing rapidly; many new residents are drawn to the area and wish to make a life here, while others are part of families who have lived here for generations. Some community members think Forest Grove is big enough, while others encourage the growth in population, businesses and yes, hopefully a second grocery store! In the coming years, City council and city staff must decide how best to bridge these viewpoints. How do we deal with growth, while also not losing the natural beauty, small town charm and other special characteristics we love most about the Grove? How do we involve the community so that Forest Grove continues to represent our shared values?

We can accomplish these things by first ensuring that city council represents the whole of our community, that all feel empowered to work with us. Empowerment comes when we acknowledge and honor the many cultural perspectives, languages, generations, political beliefs and life experiences of everyone in our community. If appointed to city council, I would bring an important bicultural, bilingual lens to city governance, working to represent the segments of our community who need a stronger voice, while ensuring I represented everyone in our community. I would bring the perspective of a young parent (as Councilor Vandehey did), of a business owner, and of someone who cares deeply about Forest Grove's traditions, its increasing diversity, and its dynamic future.

Serving on city council requires knowledge, dedication, time, and expertise. I also believe it requires compassion, thoughtfulness, a collaborative spirit and more than a little humility. I don't claim to have all the answers to the challenges the city faces, but I am ready, eager and passionate about serving, if the city council will entrust me with the responsibility of joining their efforts.

Devon Downeysmith, a marketing consultant, lives in Forest Grove with her family. Learn more here: downeysmithcreative.com.

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