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Another teacher wins by over 1000 ballots to become new Mayor of Forest Grove.

COURTESY PHOTO MALYNDA WENZL - Incoming Mayor Malynda Wenzl was once in outgoing Mayor Pete Truax's high school English class.Future leaders of Forest Grove met in English class when outgoing Mayor Pete Truax led a bright group of high school seniors, including incoming Mayor Malynda Wenzl, through poetry and prose.

"We did 'The Waste Land' by T.S. Elliot," Truax said of the spring of 1997.

"She was a delightful student. She was inquisitive. She was a challenge at times but show me a student who isn't."

Truax, a former middle and high school teacher, announced he wouldn't seek re-election in May after 12 years as mayor and nearly half a century in public service. In the election to replace him Wenzl defeated fellow city councilor Tim Rippe with 55% of the vote, a difference of over a thousand ballots. While official results are still to be certified by Washington County, Wenzl expects to be sworn in at the Dec. 12 city council meeting.

Following the election of Wenzl, the city's first female mayor, and incoming mayor Heidi Lueb in Tigard, half of the mayors across the 12 incorporated cities in Washington County will be women come early 2023. The Neil Armstrong Middle School health teacher, whose parents were a teacher and a postal worker, was first elected to the city council in 2014.

Last summer when Wenzl, a parent of a sixth-grader, decided to run for mayor, she considered hiring consultants to help fundraise but instead relied on family and friends.

"I did some soul searching over the summer. Part of what I'm trying to show is that we can participate in government without having to give up our life," Wenzl said. "Campaigning was basically another half job as a full-time teacher and parent serving on the city council."

Some of Wenzl's former students formed a Mayor's Youth Advisory Council, which gained official recognition in Jan. 2022 and now regularly pitches, presents and critiques the City Council from Generation Z's perspective. As Mayor, she has said she wants to expand the parks & recreation department and collaborate with different funding sources and adjust code to entice affordable housing development.

While the mayor still holds the same one vote as any city councilor and the city manager Jesse VanderZanden directs the day-to-day operations of the city, Wenzl will take on an expanded role between classes and after school as the public face of the city.

"I'm homegrown, and basically now I get to go represent Forest Grove," Wenzl said. "My job is basically to go out and hype up Forest Grove."COURTESY PHOTO: MALYNDA WENZL - Wenzl expects to be sworn in by the new year.

Twin sister Valyrie Ingram, a former substitute teacher and younger by five minutes, said she usually drives while Wenzl is the passenger while the new mayor is less competitive and funnier.

"She has a good feel for what kids and families need and want in the community. She is a great example to the kids that she teaches to show why service is important," said Ingram, a school board member. "You didn't know people who were involved in politics when we were younger, so she is normalizing that for a younger generation. You just have to care and give time."

Ingram was also in Truax's class.

"I think it's interesting and exciting how the twins are going to be impactful. As mayor and a second-term school board member, both of them are going to have a significant hand on the steering wheel of the progress of the city of Forest Grove," Truax said. "It's not only a credit to them but a charge and a challenge."

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