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In a letter to the editor, Frank George says Drinkwine should answer questions to keep constituents informed

The question of who will be Estacada's next mayor is hard enough for many voters. But it is made harder when the current mayor, Sean Drinkwine, has not made his position clear on key issues affecting Estacada voters. Two major opportunities have arisen for Mayor Drinkwine to share his thoughts on ballot measures, bonds, and social issues in our community, but he has declined each. Mayor Drinkwine was not inclined to answer Estacada News' mayoral candidate questionnaire, which concerned the proposed fire department merger, the 2020-2021 Estacada School Bond, the effectiveness of city council, and the city's recent progress in addressing racism. The mayor was also invited by the Nicole Gardner Austin for Mayor write-in campaign to participate in a moderated, open-platform debate in which voters could have heard candidates discuss the issues in greater depth and exchange policy platforms. However, without explanation, Mayor Drinkwine did not agree to this debate.

These two opportunities provided a chance for Mayor Drinkwine to express his views in the most non-partisan venue, Estacada News. Instead, he chose silence, and it has harmed both the trust of our constituents and their ability to make a sound, informed vote. The primary concern in our nation is whether we, the governed, can trust our government to have our best interests at heart, and whether we can trust them to uphold their oaths in the face of complications or outright defeat. It's a question we should never have had to ask ourselves, but nevertheless, we must. And in a town where so many live to escape the madness of urban and national life, it should go without question that all candidates are open and honest with the public. The mayor of our town, by definition of the office, is the face of the community. Just as someone would not ignore their neighbors at the grocery store, the mayor should not ignore direct, fair questions directed toward him. Drinkwine's main goal as mayor since elected is to be, "always available to answer questions and strives to solve problems as they occur." Instead, 2020 has shown a mayor who consistently avoids questions from the public and who downplays controversies created under his leadership.

Further, it is clear that Mayor Drinkwine is only willing to campaign when the crowd supports him. To date, the mayor has participated in a city-sponsored rally celebrating firefighters, now facing complaints and citations for its lack of adherence to COVID-19 regulations, and a non-political parade where a majority of participants campaigned for his re-election. Neither events provided legitimate accountability from constituents critical of his leadership. Paired with his campaign's lack of adherence to city policy on political signage in city-owned natural spaces, his strategy is clearly to campaign only on his terms, to play by his rules, and to avoid constituents who don't support him.

Estacada had many opportunities to hear from both candidates, but was denied those opportunities without explanation. In an election year filled with distrust, Estacada now has its own doubts about who can effectively lead the community through hard times. Time will tell whether voters will re-elect Mayor Drinkwine or put their faith in the underdog write-in, Nicole Gardner Austin. But it is certainly clear that the choice is made no easier by the mayor's campaign strategy.

Frank George

Estacada


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