When Troutdale City Councilor Jamie Kranz met David — her husband-to-be — while skiing at Mt. Hood Meadows resort, she lived in Northeast Portland and he was based in the village of Parkdale, just south of Hood River.
When they married in April 2015, the couple decided to meet in the middle — literally.
"He had to be in Parkdale on the weekends, so we chose Troutdale," says Jamie Kranz, who then worked at the former Clackamas County-based United Streetcar company. "It's close to woods and nature, but with urban amenities. It was a 20-minute commute to work instead of 75 minutes."
Finding a charming, craftsman-style home overlooking downtown and the Columbia and Sandy rivers, the couple comfortably settled in. Jamie, a Portland native, wasted little time getting involved in her adopted home city.
"I've volunteered all my life — from middle school on," she explains. "I quickly became involved with the (Troutdale) Planning Commission and served a four-year term, attending meetings and learning the mechanics of the Development Code update."
She also served for two years on the Budget Committee while completing her finance degree in 2016 at Portland State University.
With life changes coming fast and furious — her mother died in May 2016 and her first son, Boone, was born in July — Kranz decided it was time to take a break from full-time work as a self-described "bean counter" at Oregon Iron Works/United Streetcar.
"I couldn't work 60-hour weeks while pursuing my education," she says, "and I got tired of being a bean counter."
Encouraged by a neighbor to pursue a City Council position, Kranz quickly discovered her committee service and community passion might not be enough to woo quantities of voters. While collecting the requisite 50 signatures to get on the 2018 ballot, she got a wake-up call.
"One of the first people I encountered said, 'I don't know you or what you stand for. Why should I support you?'" she recalled. "I realized I need to develop a better elevator pitch."
Her increased focus ultimately paid off.
One year after winning that election, Kranz — Troutdale's first female councilor since Barbara Kyle's 2003-2010 service — has been anything but a shrinking violet. The unassuming-yet-engaged 38-year-old likes to ask questions during council meeting discussions. She hasn't met a topic that doesn't stir her curiosity.
Mayor Casey Ryan has so far been impressed with Kranz's tenacity and ability to fit comfortably with her fellow councilors while establishing an original, authoritative voice.
"Councilor Kranz brings a humble servant approach to council," he said. "It is refreshing to have a member of council that views fairness and transparency as a priority. Councilor Kranz brings no grandstanding and inflated ego that many people can bring to this position."
In particular, Kranz has championed the need for more affordable housing, especially for seniors, in Troutdale. She is drawn to real estate-oriented issues that influence who is able to live where.
"I've always been interested in real estate," she says. "Growing up in the (Portland) area, it has been difficult to accept the fact the majority of homes available for purchase are now so expensive that a mortgage typically requires two incomes to support."
That the Reynolds School District reports an "alarming number" of homeless students — approximately 846, she cites of recent data, — shows housing issues extend well beyond 30-something couples seeking a comfortable starter home.
"We need to find a way to address the population's housing needs. The Metro (regional government) Bond might be an opportunity, if Troutdale is selected, to provide relief to the homeless families people in our community," Kranz explains. "While there may be some locals who stand in opposition to more housing, the truth of the matter is that the city of Troutdale is currently required to host an annual open house to specifically address the topic of housing affordability, because we do not currently meet the threshold to be considered 'affordable.'"
Kranz is hopeful a housing-needs analysis now in progress will provide "more answers in regards to our housing inventory in all ranges, from low to high."
Mayor Ryan, meanwhile, says he looks forward to working with Kranz on issues of senior and affordable housing.
"Jamie is well-read, prepared and not afraid to ask questions and bring a creative approach to finding a solution," he said.
Feeling good about her decision to run in 2018 and where it's gotten her thus far, Kranz — whose second child, Zane, turns 2 in February — is ready to face a productive new year as both a mom and city councilor.
"I look forward to continuing to work with our local and regional partners, in the role of a female councilor," she says, "to position Troutdale well for a healthy and vibrant economy."
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