ENDORSEMENT: Elect Ryan Johnson to Gresham City Council
The Outlook has been an enthusiastic advocate for Mario Palmero in recent years because he's been the champion for people who feel left out and misunderstood by local government. Palmero fills an important gap on the City Council.
But Palmero has run into a problem. He's finding it difficult to balance demands of his private life, work life, community activism and City Council commitments. Among his committee assignments, Palmero was appointed to meet with the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, though there is no record of him ever attending those meetings. More recently, a scheduling conflict prevented him from attending the first meeting of the Gresham Task Force on Housing, an assignment he asked for and that dovetails neatly into his list of priorities.
With demands on his time at home, professionally as a social worker and as a community activist, we think he's trying to do too much. It's starting to show, and people are noticing.
So that's why we've reluctantly — even sadly — decided to put our endorsement behind another candidate.
The Position 4 race has drawn six candidates: Antonio Medel, Benjamin Jones, Ryan Johnson, Raymond Love, Paul Drechsler and, or course, Palmero. Medel told an Outlook reporter that his campaign began as a joke, while Jones and Love have been quiet, for the most part, in their candidacy.
That narrows this race down to two serious contenders — Ryan Johnson and Paul Drechsler.
It's been difficult to decide between Johnson and Drechsler because they're very different people with their own lists of strengths. Either one of these two candidates would make a good city councilor.
It's unfortunate that Johnson and Drechsler wound up in the same race. Depending on the outcome of the election, one or the other (or both) will end up on the losing side. We hope that doesn't discourage them from running in a future election.
We could end it there and be happy to leave it entirely up to the voters, but that's the chicken way out. So here goes:
Paul is a money guy. He's vice president of business banking at Bank of the West Gresham. He's served on the Gresham Planning and Development Commission and the Rockwood Redevelopment Advisory Committee. And he's involved as a volunteer with several high-profile organizations. Drechsler's strengths would be in the area of aiding in the city's economic development efforts. He wants to be on the ground floor of building upon Gresham's vibrancy. Drechsler could easily make the transition to the City Council without breaking a sweat.
Ryan is a blue collar guy — an assistant service manager at Gresham Ford. He's working to overcome his discomfort with public speaking. But that's where his weaknesses end. Like Drechsler, Johnson boasts a strong resume of community involvement.
Ryan and his wife attend the City Council meetings, so he's familiar with the issues being discussed by local leaders. He's an active member of the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce, so he's familiar with the concerns of small- and medium-sized local businesses.
He also volunteers as chair of the Gresham Community Development and Housing subcommittee, and he's a member of the Gresham Redevelopment Commission, so he's got a good handle on how the city functions and the big issues faced by the council.
Johnson and Drechsler are both well-known and well-liked in the community, and they're willing to invest the time and energy to make the best decisions for the residents of the city of Gresham.
If we're forced to make a hard choice between Johnson and Drechsler, we recommend marking the ballot next to Johnson's name.
In a political era when "agenda" seems to play a big role in decisions to run for office, Johnson doesn't seem to have hidden motives beyond a simple interest in serving the city where he's lived and worked for 20 years.
Vote for Ryan Johnson for Gresham City Council Position 4.