Arthur, Manz and Nguyen become first to seek seats on Lake Oswego City Council
Three candidates have gathered the signatures and filed the required paperwork to officially join the race for the Lake Oswego City Council, each aiming for one of three open seats on the November 2018 ballot.
Councilors Jeff Gudman, Joe Buck and Jackie Manz currently hold the spots that will be up for grabs in the general election. Manz is the only incumbent seeking another term; term limits prevent Gudman from running again, and Buck is seeking a spot on the Metro Council instead.
Joining Manz at the front of the line are former Planning Commissioner Randy Arthur and restaurateur Daniel Nguyen. Additional candidates are expected to join the race before the Aug. 28 filing deadline; look for profiles of them in the coming weeks.
A former longtime member of the City's Planning Commission, Randy Arthur says he's developed a strong enthusiasm for working with Lake Oswego's residents to develop City policy. He's seeking a City Council seat, he says, in order to further apply his expertise.
"I want to do my part to help Lake Oswego remain a wonderful place," he says. "Using the skills and experience I developed interacting and listening to the public on the Planning Commission, I think I can make a positive difference."
Arthur received his bachelor's from Occidental College and his master's from the University of California, Berkeley. He began his career in the public sector, including work at Portland Public Schools, and then later received his J.D. from Hofstra University. He now works as a private practice attorney with a focus on financial institution bonds and insurance.
Arthur's involvement in local government began with a series of neighborhood leadership roles in Portland. He served on the board of the Forest Heights Homeowners Association and played a role in creating a budget committee and an activities committee for the community. He later served as president of the HOA and as president of Portland's Northwest Heights Neighborhood Association.
"My approach that I developed in Forest Heights, and then later on the Planning Commission, was to really reach out and listen to members of the public," he says, "and to engage in rigorous analysis and scrutiny and to prioritize the community's wants and needs in light of limited resources."
Arthur moved from Northwest Portland to Lake Oswego with his wife Katie and son Peter in 2008, and says the family was drawn to the city because of its schools and its natural beauty.
"I've really grown to love Lake Oswego in my 10 years here," he says. "With each passing year, I've gained a renewed appreciation."
Arthur quickly became involved in Lake Oswego, at first in smaller-scale roles such as serving on the easement committee of the Lake Oswego Corporation. He eventually applied to serve on the Planning Commission and was appointed in 2012 by Mayor Jack Hoffman and reappointed in 2014 by Mayor Kent Studebaker.
Arthur says he joined the commission to seek new ways to connect with his neighbors and become involved with the city, and found that the most rewarding successes were the ones that included large amounts of public involvement, such as the development of individual neighborhood plans in collaboration with Lake Oswego's various neighborhood associations.
Arthur served as vice chair of the commission from 2013 to 2014, and as the chair from 2014 to 2016. During his tenure, the commission began opening its work sessions to public comment, which Arthur says improved the overall quality of the commission's recommendations by bringing in new ideas.
Arthur also came up with the idea for a series of meetings in which the Planning Commission would join neighborhood association leaders for walking tours in order to get a firsthand look at their concerns and areas of focus.
"It really makes a difference to walk the neighborhood and look at issues," he says. "I'm most proud of that as a contribution I've made. I've thought I'd like to continue something like that (if elected to the council)."
Arthur left the commission earlier this year after declining to seek reappointment, a decision he says stemmed in part from a desire to make sure commission seats continually remain available for new members.
But after six years on the commission, Arthur says he's incredibly tuned in to the issues facing the City; as a councilor, he says, he will be able to have an even greater impact as the City confronts issues like short-term rentals, annexation policy and a potential renewal of a series of Parks & Recreation bonds.
Jackie Manz says her decision to seek a second term is spurred in part by a desire to see several projects through to completion, including the Boones Ferry Road redesign, a replacement for City Hall and the North Anchor project.
She also says she wants to continue the council and city's ongoing discussions about diversity, equity and inclusion, affordable housing and the future of the Stafford region.
"I feel it's my fiduciary duty, as well as my civic duty, to see (the City Hall project) through," she says. "We've had to make a lot of tough decisions, but I think the end product will be worth the wait."
Manz grew up in Los Angeles and received her bachelor's degree from the University of Portland. She is the owner of Edmunds/Manz Consulting, a strategic management business that focuses on the hospitality industry.
After getting married, Manz and her husband Christian spent several years moving from place to place, with stops including Spain, Ecuador and Florida; his job kept him moving, she says, while her work as a business management consultant was mobile. But they wanted to raise their children in the United States, Manz says, and eventually settled in Lake Oswego 23 years ago.
Manz's initial involvement in the community began with the school district, volunteering in various parent-teacher organizations. She also gained early government experience when she was appointed in 2007 to serve as a member of Oregon's state Tourism Board.
After a few years, she also began to get involved with her neighborhood association and eventually served as the chair for Hallinan Heights. She says she found that she enjoyed being able to advocate for her neighbors, which prompted her to apply to serve on the City's budget committee.
"Step-by-step, I was able to feel I was in a place to be most effective," she says.
Running for council seemed like a logical next step, she says, and she joined the race in 2014 after two years on the budget committee.
Manz says she didn't come into the job with a specific agenda, beyond a general commitment to managed growth in the city. But she says that over the course of her term, she discovered a number of issues where she could have an impact, such as the City's flag lot policy.
Still, she says she makes a point of following what she calls her "listen-learn-lead" philosophy and avoids entering discussions with pre- formed opinions. Perhaps not coincidentally, Manz has developed a reputation as the swing vote on the current council.
"I do consider myself a moderate, not tied to a particular point of view," she says. "I doubt I'll change that aspect — I'm not really a go-whichever-way-the-wind-blows person."
If re-elected, Manz says she wants to maintain a commitment to pathway development and expand her focus on transit issues, both in terms of finding solutions to traffic congestion and exploring the development of alternative forms of transportation — everything from new bike paths to self-driving mini buses.
There's no one-size-fits-all approach to Lake Oswego's transportation issues, Manz says, but she plans to approach the issue by prioritizing input from residents.
"You need to have opportunities for citizens to weigh in," she says. "I'd have to stick with my listen-learn-lead philosophy, and make sure that I'm in alignment with what the citizens would like to see."
She says she also wants to continue the council's current discussion about affordable housing strategies, and one of her biggest goals in the discussion will be to prioritize ways to maintain the city's existing housing stock.
Daniel Nguyen and his wife Katherine are best known as the team behind Bambuza, a series of Portland-area Vietnamese restaurants. He says his City Council candidacy stems from a commitment to public service, and that his skills and experience as a restaurateur and small-business owner will help him make an impact on the city's leadership.
"It's something that's very important to me, to be able to give back to the community that's given me and our family so much," he says.
The Nguyen family moved to Lake Oswego in 2010, although Nguyen says he's been a resident of the greater Portland region for most of his life. His parents came to the United States from Vietnam as refugees in 1975 and settled in Camas, Wash., where Nguyen grew up.
Nguyen attended college at the University of Puget Sound and later received his MBA from Marylhurst University. He and his wife initially entered the restaurant industry in Seattle, but he says they had always hoped to be able to return to the Portland area. They got their chance in 2008 when they opened a new Bambuza franchise in the South Waterfront neighborhood.
The Great Recession hit just a few months later, but the new Portland location was able to ride out the economic downturn, and Nguyen says those years taught him how to make difficult decisions in order to keep the business going and adapt to a changing environment.
"I think what it taught us is really how to be innovative and careful with our resources," he says. "It forced us to really refocus and think about our priorities."
Bambuza now has six locations throughout the Portland region, including one in Lake Oswego, and the Nguyens are poised to expand back into the Seattle region with new franchises at Sea-Tac airport.
Nguyen says he hopes to be able to apply what he's learned as a business owner to serve the city, and to represent the small-business community on the council.
"As a small-business owner, I work within a budget, and I have expenses and revenue forecasts," he says. "The city is a much larger context, but I think a lot of the basic principles of financial management and planning are things that I practice every day."
Nguyen's first foray into local politics came last year, when he applied for an appointment to represent Oregon House District 38, replacing former Rep. Ann Lininger. The appointment eventually went to Rep. Andrea Salinas, but Nguyen says the six-week process gave him an opportunity to learn the ropes of campaigning.
"I came away with a greater respect for the process," he says. "From a nuts-and-bolts perspective, what it takes to run a campaign."
With an expanding company and two school-age children at home, Nguyen admits he's picked a very busy point in his life to pursue a City Council position. But he says he hopes he can serve as an inspiration to other residents who want to find the time for public service.
"At first I was kind of reluctant and thought it's not really a convenient time," he says, "but then a voice in the back of my mind said, 'You know, there's never going to be a really convenient time.'"
He also says he can bring a unique perspective to the City Council as a younger parent who is raising a family in Lake Oswego. He says some of his biggest areas of focus will be housing and transportation, and those goals stem in part from his own experiences.
"Having a family gives you perspective," he says. "What would it take for another young family like mine to come and live here?"
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