Letter: Mayor Drinkwine shows dedication to Estacada
Recently, I have heard the accusation that I am "aligned" with Estacada Mayor Sean Drinkwine. This term made me do a double take. Then I realized how the public perception could be that I am "aligned" with him, but that's only because they don't know the whole story — and that story is exactly why I support him as mayor, will continue to support him as mayor, and why I am most certainly not "aligned" with him.
If you look back on public records, Mayor Drinkwine and I are nowhere near aligned. He and I have disagreed many times, including over the proposed merger between Estacada Fire and Clackamas Fire. It's no secret that he has withdrawn his endorsement of it and I continue to support it, but that doesn't stop us from collaborating or being civil to each other.
I met Mayor Drinkwine in February 2018. I knew I wanted to run for an open council position that November and met with him to learn about council roles, responsibilities, the specific issues our area was facing and shared some of my ideas with him about the change that I wanted to see in our local government. I started attending council meetings for the purpose of learning. We did not have communication outside of those meetings.
Fast forward to January 2019. I was sworn into my seat and hit the ground running. I jumped at the first opportunity to attend a League of Oregon Cities Elected Officials Training. The only two people to attend this training with me were Mayor Drinkwine and City Manager Denise Carey. The mayor and I stayed in Salem for an extra day to attend the League of Oregon Cities "City Day at the Capital." It was just me and Mayor Drinkwine representing the interests of Estacada, but it gave us an opportunity to learn together, debate together and fight for the interests of the city that we both love dearly.
At the time, Mayor Drinkwine was the city representative to Estacada for the Clackamas County Coordinating Committee and Councilor Spangler was the designated alternate. I attended every C4 meeting I could to listen and learn. Mayor Drinkwine attended every meeting I did, but we never saw Councilor Spangler attend, so a few months later, I asked the council to appoint me as the alternate, which they did. Mayor Drinkwine and I would both appear at the C4 committees, both representing our city and fighting for the interests of it, and again — to listen and learn.
In addition, once a month (pre-COVID), the city representatives in Clackamas County gather together for a dinner to discuss city issues and accomplishments. I have participated in every City Dinner since taking my seat, along with one other person … Mayor Drinkwine. I think he has missed one dinner. I had never seen another councilor from Estacada attend a City Dinner until it was Estacada's turn to host, and even then, only one other councilor attended.
In September 2019 the League of Oregon Cities had a thre-day conference in Bend. The only three people to attend this conference from Estacada were myself, Mayor Drinkwine and City Manager Denise Carey.
Fast forward to June 2020. I learned about the infamous Facebook post when a reporter from a local news station called me to ask about my reaction. I respectfully declined to answer anything until learning about what he was talking about. The first person I called was Mayor Drinkwine. He explained to me what he said, why he said it, why he took it down and what he was going to do to fix it. I am also human. I have also made mistakes, said the wrong thing or taken someone else's statement out of context, so the explanation he gave me, and the apologies I saw him make multiple times using multiple outlets were enough for me to forgive one mistake and I had high hopes (I still do) that we as an entire community would learn from those mistakes so we can grow together as a community. As the weeks progressed, I saw only more division, not from Mayor Drinkwine, but from the people who capitalize on that division. I saw councilors — who have not seen firsthand the level of involvement the Mayor has had — publicly call for his resignation.
I am sorry to everyone if all they see is internal conflict and division in our council. There is a reason for it. If everyone only sees that Mayor Drinkwine and I are "aligned," it's because he and I have had more opportunities for team-building, mutual learning, networking with other officials and more opportunities to fight for the issues that are important to Estacada outside of the city limits and outside of City Hall. I would love to move forward into a future with that level of cooperation, that level of commitment and that level of networking with partners outside of our city (the rural mayors of Clackamas County have great working relationships) and based on my own first hand observations/experiences, Mayor Drinkwine is the only person who has proven that he can be that committed, and that involved, which is why I did, I do and I will continue to support Mayor Sean Drinkwine — and you should, too.
Estacada City Councilor
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.