Former Happy Valley mayor reflects on years of public service
As we delve into 2019, we are all looking forward to some sort of change for the better. This phenomenon of change is certainly true in my case, although the changes for me were neither necessarily expected nor ideal.
As you may know, I ran for state representative of House District 51 in 2018, and unfortunately, I lost that race. Subsequently, I have also decided to step down from my eight-year tenure as the mayor of the city of Happy Valley. However, even amidst the disheartening results of my campaign and departure from this incredible job, I can only reflect upon these past eight years with pride and happiness, particularly for the work of our town's government and the overwhelmingly pragmatic community of Happy Valley, who participated in the communal/political discourse that improved our city.
When I was elected to become Happy Valley's mayor in 2010, I had set a number of goals to accomplish for our community during my time in office. This included a number of matters, like the need for growth in the economic, infrastructural, and communal aspects of Happy Valley. Retrospectively, I have complete confidence in saying that we have achieved success in tackling these issues. I pushed for a fully staffed and equipped police force, which actively handles more than 3,000 calls each year. My initiatives for environmental conservation and affordable housing have also seen great outcomes, from the solar panel plan that saved the city over 127,000 pounds of greenhouse-gas emissions per year to the fight to keep one of the lowest property tax rates in all of Oregon. Lastly, in the last eight years, the Happy Valley Youth Council has flourished and now leads youth councils across the country. The biggest issue in Happy Valley moving forward will be managing the continued growth that is necessary and part of the urban-growth expansion of the city, which cannot be legally stopped. Incoming Mayor Tom Ellis and the City Council will have their work cut out for them in balancing this act and fulfilling their campaign promises.
Furthermore, I am proud of what I helped accomplish outside the borders of Happy Valley. By facilitating the development of a comprehensive strategy to alleviate local transportation funding deficits, we accomplished needed improvements to the regional and statewide transportation system. One significant reason this transportation initiative succeeded was due to bipartisan cooperation. Ever since I first became mayor, I believed in, and still continue to believe in the value of bipartisan action. While I am a member of the Republican Party, bipartisanship is one of the reasons as to why I could accomplish so much as mayor. But still, this past election brought a change of balance in our state's government: We lost three Republican seats in the Oregon House of Representatives, giving the Democrats a 38-22 supermajority, and they also gained one seat in the State Senate for the supermajority. While I advocate for bipartisanship, this new shift may make it harder for universally beneficial legislation to be passed.
As for the future of the Republican Party, I hope for more diverse/inclusive partnerships, and the undying will to swing the pendulum back in balance. Happy Valley will continue to grow with the new leaders at the helm and the state legislature will continue to squeeze municipalities for more dollars. I ask the residents to keep eyes wide open and be involved. I know I will be one of them.
Lori Chavez-DeRemer is a former mayor of Happy Valley.