Outlook Endorsement: Elect Randy Lauer for Troutdale mayor
The race for Troutdale Mayor is one of the more difficult choices on the November ballot, with two candidates bringing competing strengths and weaknesses.
One of them, Dave Ripma, has the experience of 25 years on the City Council, while Randy Lauer, his challenger, is a relative newcomer. Point goes to Ripma.
On the other hand, Lauer is a young visionary, while Ripma has a reputation for being content with the way things are. Point goes to Lauer.
To arrive at a decision, The Outlook considered this choice through the lens of everything we've experienced in 2020, from the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, to the Black Lives Matter protests that followed the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn. Businesses are closing. Events are canceled. Schools have moved to online instruction. We're experiencing political and social tensions the likes of which we haven't seen in the U.S. since the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s.
And idyllic Troutdale, at the gateway to the Columbia River Gorge, is just as susceptible to these social and political forces as any other community.
At this moment, Troutdale needs a forward thinking mayor; one who will do things differently. We think that candidate is Randy Lauer.
But before going further, we need to concede that Ripma is absolutely capable of leading this community as its mayor. His years of service to this community are commendable. If Ripma is elected, Troutdale will be in good hands.
Still, this is the right moment for Lauer who is more in tune with the current social dynamics and with younger residents and their families.
He's spent 16 years as an employee within city government, but he's also spent time in the business world helping his wife operate their CrossFit gym. His volunteerism has a focus on health and wellness, which fits well with Troutdale and an influx of younger families.
Though his experience in office extends only to 2016, when he was elected to the Troutdale City Council, he has now gained experience in developing a city budget, and in providing administrative oversight to both the city manager and municipal court judge.
When elected mayor, you can count on Lauer to promote forward-thinking changes within the community, including the revitalization of the riverfront property inside the Urban Renewal Area just behind the outlet mall.
Under his leadership, the vision will consider the needs of current residents, as well as those of generations to come. In his words, "Green spaces, multimodal pathways, areas for small business growth and development, ideal places to live that are located within Troutdale's beautifully natural landscapes, and just the perfect place to gather with family, friends and colleagues would be something I think all of Troutdale, and the region as a whole, can be proud of." And he wants Troutdale to build a skate park that young people can enjoy for years to come.
Voters can be assured that Lauer will work hard to make sure that issues of social and racial equity remain at the forefront.
As mayor, he will place economic development as his top priority, using his influence to steer the city as it helps rebuild once the pandemic subsides.
And as mayor, Lauer will continue the progress made by current Mayor Casey Ryan, who successfully ended years of bitter divisions between council members and rekindled a sense of teamwork.
A few words of caution, though, about Lauer. He has a reputation of becoming too emotional on some issues. And he's been described as " inconsistent" with his choices. As mayor, those fallibilities will be magnified. He'll need a sharper focus. And if he has hopes of retaining the peaceful demeanor of the council, he'll need to keep his cool. The council will take his lead if he presents himself as prepared and in control; or, on the other hand, he could compromise his own leadership.
Those concerns are secondary to the good things he will bring to the city's highest elected office at this pivotal moment history. Our recommendation, elect Randy Lauer as the next mayor of Troutdale.
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