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Two-part series focuses on key issues in the race for three seats on the Lake Oswego City Council

Lake Oswego has a record-breaking number of candidates in this year's City Council race, creating an especially tough decision for residents.

Those candidates include former Planning Commission Chair Randy Arthur, LO Moms community service organizer Emma Burke, Lewis & Clark College archivist Hannah Crummé, incumbent Councilor Jackie Manz, former Hallinan Heights Neighborhood Association Chair Donald Mattersdorff, International Leadership Academy director Massene Mboup, restaurateur Daniel Nguyen and former School Board Chair John Wendland.

In order to help voters make their choices, the candidates are scheduled to participate in no fewer than five forums by the time election day arrives — including one hosted by The Review on Oct. 18. The off-the-cuff answers at the candidate forums are important, of course, but it can also be valuable to hear what candidates have to say when they have time to consider the questions and draft their responses.

For that reason, The Review developed a list of eight key questions about Lake Oswego and sent it to each candidate to give them a chance to provide written responses. All but Crummé, who notified the City this week that she is no longer actively campaigning, replied.

In choosing our questions, we sought to avoid overlapping with the questions that may come up at The Review's candidate forum, so some topics that aren't covered here may come up then. And due to space concerns, the candidates were asked to keep their answers concise. But even then, we will run the replies in two parts — four questions in today's paper, and four more in the Oct. 4 issue.

Here are The Review's first four questions, which you'll also find online at lakeoswegoreview.com:

1.

Lake Oswego voters are going to be asked about a number of bond measures in the next few years, including an affordable housing bond from Metro, a potential transportation bond from TriMet and a second and third round of bonds from the Lake Oswego School District. Lake Oswego also has a trio of parks bonds up for renewal soon. Do you think voters will have an appetite for additional costs? How do you think the City should balance its own financial requests with those of the rest of the region?

{img:216063}Randy Arthur: Mayor Kent Studebaker sounded a cautionary note in his recent "Citizens View" article, listing potential local, regional and state bond measures that could be approved by voters. These include "rollover" and new bonds for Lake Oswego, as well as new regional bonds. Implicit in the mayor's commentary was that each of the measures had obvious merit as well as additional costs. He urged taxpayers to make informed decisions.

Taxpayers may not support all of the measures and must choose which ones to support. A decision not to renew one or more "rollovers" would provide some financial relief from taxes. Accordingly, while acknowledging the costs, voters must also weigh the value of such measures in enhancing the desirability and livability of our community.

To achieve balance, the City must prioritize its financial requests by distinguishing between community "needs" and "wants," while bearing in mind the character and overall affordability of our community. Guided by the City's 2014 Comprehensive Plan, informed by community surveys and public comment, and as advised by the City's boards and commissions, the City Council must then exercise sound judgment when referring financial requests to voters.

{img:216064}Emma Burke: The overall feedback I've received is that voters can stomach some, but perhaps not all, additional costs. Most-palatable costs are the school bonds. Many new residents bring their families to LO for our public schools. Our quality education requires sufficient buildings. Investment in our schools has a close relationship to our home values.

Secondary to school bonds seem to be the parks bonds up for renewal, since parks improve our quality of life and neighborhood livability and also help retain/improve our housing values.

Feedback on the TriMet and Metro bonds is that they don't have the same perception of return on investment, since TriMet and Metro don't seem to benefit our City as directly as other areas they serve.

LO should balance our own financial requests with those of the rest of the region by being mindful of what matters to our residents and engaging them in the process.

{img:216065}Jackie Manz: Through excellent fiscal management, the City of Lake Oswego has been able to build an Operations and Maintenance Center and will soon begin work on the civic center without bonding. This was a conscious decision of the council in support of the Lake Oswego School District's $187 million bond, which passed last year.

As noted, the LOSD has two more bonds in the pipeline. I am not sure of the voters' appetite for additional debt at this point.

Not mentioned in the question but of note, Lake Oswego water and sewer customers are paying down the revenue bonds that were issued to complete the sewer interceptor project and the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership.

The parks bonds are important, and I fully support our moving forward on gauging the citizens' will. As a member of the City Council, it is my fiduciary duty to balance the needs and costs for current and future citizens of Lake Oswego.

{img:216066}Donald Mattersdorff: I personally prioritize the needs of Lake Oswego — including Lake Oswego schools — first, ahead of Metro and TriMet and the others. That's how I vote. Even within Lake Oswego, I evaluate a bond measure and don't automatically vote yes. Our civic leaders should not grow accustomed to taking our yes votes for granted.

Overall, I think the competition among different taxing authorities for different bond measures is healthy. True, voters may become fatigued by all of the bond measures and vote no on a few that, in a different year, they might otherwise have voted yes. But the strongest bond measures will pass and the weaker ones will fail, which is very healthy.

There are limits to how much debt a city or larger entity should assume, and those who seek new spending from bonds should always explain convincingly why such borrowing and spending is absolutely necessary.

{img:216067}Massene Mboup: Yes, I do believe the constituents within Lake Oswego do have a desire to invest in the community. Our community is committed to making Lake Oswego an inviting and welcoming place to live, work and enjoy community activities. From my conversations with voters, I believe they are interested in investing in infrastructure and keeping the charm Lake Oswego offers while making access to the city easier.

I think an examination of the region is valuable in terms of benchmarking successes. I also see the value in creating a narrative specific to the needs of our community; the financial responsibility the city has must be driven by the voice of the people, the expertise of the City Council and the actual laborers and managers working on these projects.

From my perspective, adding more diversity to the council ensures we have a holistic approach to financial management and with a deep obligation to using the funds wisely and efficiently.

{img:216068}Daniel Nguyen: Most of us don't "have an appetite for additional costs," but just like with our home budgets, we may be willing to pay more if there is a clear benefit on key priorities like housing, transportation and education.

As a parent and small-business owner, I am dealing with the ever-rising costs to cover our family budget. As a voter and taxpayer, I expect elected leaders to make the case for why we are being asked to pay more in taxes and to demonstrate stewardship and accountability in how those tax dollars are spent.

At the local level, I believe City leadership has a responsibility to prioritize the needs of the residents of this community, which includes investing in the shared infrastructure, like transportation and housing, necessary to ensure that we have a vibrant, prosperous community.

{img:216069}John Wendland: In collaboration with its citizens, the Lake Oswego City Council has the responsibility to formulate a forward-thinking vision for Lake Oswego.

What makes our city wonderful, and how going forward can we undertake progress done right and have a stable financial future for LO? We must prioritize, recognizing that there is not the appetite or the money for absolutely everything on a wish list. My bond priorities are schools, parks and city infrastructure.

The City skillfully financed the new Maintenance Center and will fund a new City Hall without asking taxpayers for a bond or for tax increases. This type of creative thinking and teamwork should continue.

2.

Last year, the Lake Oswego School District approached the City with a request to team up to fund a shared pool facility. The City Council decided that the City should not play a role in operations and management, but left open the possibility of a one-time contribution to build the facility. Do you support a one-time contribution, and would you be open to the idea of locating a potential pool at the city's municipal golf course?

Emma Burke: I support a one-time contribution to build the shared pool facility more than the idea of locating a potential pool at the city's municipal golf course.

As the only candidate for City Council who regularly attends the Lake Oswego School District's bond measure updates to follow developments in the construction and remodel projects, I feel I'm the candidate with the most knowledge of (and faith in) LOSD's ability to implement the pool's construction.

In addition, I believe public school property is a more stable investment than a municipal golf course that could eventually be sold (if it isn't cost-effective to maintain), with an unknown effect on community pool users.

Increasing partnerships between the public school community and City are a main reason I hope to be elected to serve. As the only candidate with children in early elementary in our public school system, I can best relate to newer families.

Jackie Manz: I support an open and transparent dialog between the LOSD and the City of Lake Oswego to discuss our present and future intergovernmental partnerships.

I fully support the siting of the LOSD pool at Lakeridge Junior High for a number of reasons: The concentration of school population on the north/west side of the lake supports it; traffic improvements are taking place in the vicinity of LJH; there is a full-service fire station directly across the street from the site; and the access to I-5 will assist in drawing regional swim competitions.

Donald Mattersdorff: I enjoy swimming and have used the pool. But the school district told citizens prior to the school bond measure that the $187 million included funding for a new pool, and the turnaround came as a surprise, to say the least. I think that this as much as anything explains why the City Council voted no.

I agree with the City Council in this instance. Lake Oswego has plenty of demands on its budget without adding $10 million for a pool that has historically been owned and operated by the school district.

At a higher level, we should consider the request for pool funds with competing requests for a tennis facility, for an (improved) golf course, and for more sports fields. We can't fund them all. We should allocate our recreation dollars in a fashion that optimizes utility, considering both usage and cost, as best we are able to figure it out.

Massene Mboup: Yes; the pool is about building a sense of community and the value it will add to Lake Oswego is boundless. I know that the City and the school district have the means and ability to effectively manage this project and add value to the community in the long run.

A municipal pool is a great asset to our community; it is a common practice for cities around the country to have municipal pools. It will allow people to swim without having to be a member of a club.

I believe the City should collaborate with the school district either to help build the pool or contribute to the annual maintenance. Location is something that we all need to build a consensus for; we cannot arbitrarily decide locations without examining the actual need and capacity of the project.

Daniel Nguyen: Lake Oswego is a community with a long legacy of commitment to quality education and quality of life for all our residents. I strongly believe this legacy was built on a strong relationship between the City of Lake Oswego and the Lake Oswego School District.

As a father of two avid swimmers and an active community member, I recognize the benefit of educational and recreational opportunities accessible to both students and Lake Oswego residents. As a councilor, I would support investing in an aquatics facility that not only serves school swim teams but also provides opportunities for youth summer employment, adult education classes, and serves as a training ground for the Lake Oswego Fire and Clackamas County Sheriff's departments.

I would also welcome discussion about redeveloping the current municipal golf course into a shorter but higher-quality 9-hole course that might include an aquatics facility on the grounds.

John Wendland: One community pool is a great idea. The school district and the City need to work together and strategically plan one for the next 40 years that will serve the needs of our community. Taxpayers don't really distinguish school district vs. city. They see it as a community asset funded with their taxes.

A one-time contribution may be a quick remedy, but it is short-sighted. It goes back to mission and vision and priorities. What kind of facility do we want for our community? We need to work together on behalf of our community and find a great solution. While the golf course is one potential location, Lakeridge Junior High is a better, more centrally located option.

Randy Arthur: The school district pool, with public access, has served its useful life and should be replaced. A new pool for youth swimming, swimming competitition and water polo, with public access for swimming lessons and lap swimming, is needed. The current pool does not reflect "the Lake Oswego brand." A new pool could serve as an economic stimulus when hosting swimming events.

Partial funding of a new pool has already been approved in the school district's bond. The superintendant may establish a pool committee, and I hope a specific design for a new pool results from that. The school district may not require a direct financial contribution, but if needed, I support the City evaluating a one-time capital contribution.

The City's conceptual designs for a renovated golf course did not reflect a pool. There is concern about traffic on McVey Avenue. Due to limited available locations, Lakeridge Junior High School may be the best location for a new school pool with public access. The school district and the City should work together to make that happen.

3.

How do you feel about Airbnb and other Short-Term Rental (STR) platforms operating in Lake Oswego? If you think they should be permitted in the city, what rules or restrictions would you want to see put in place, and how should the city go about enforcing them?

Jackie Manz: I have long stated that as STRs are currently operating in Lake Oswego in spite of the ban, a policy of allowing a limited, permitted number to operate under a sunset clause would make the most sense. And I would suggest that we explore ways that the lodging tax collected might be used toward education and enforcement.

Donald Mattersdorff: I support allowing citizens to rent their homes on Airbnb with some restrictions. I think that renting a portion of your home is a reasonable use that homeowners should expect as a matter of right.

On the other hand, I appreciate the counter-argument that the widespread practice of using homes for short-term rentals will hurt neighborhoods. If your neighboring house is nothing more than a hotel for tourists, you will be deprived of a real neighbor. Your kids will have fewer friends in the neighborhood. Your property value will suffer, and schools will suffer.

A dedicated Airbnb home is not, in fact, a residence. It's a business. It should have commercial zoning as hotels do, and not sit in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

Therefore, I find it reasonable to allow Airbnb inside someone's primary residence, but not in homes which are dedicated rentals. Lake Oswego's beautiful neighborhoods are jewels in the crown, and we need sensible policies such as these to protect them.

Massene Mboup: I do not believe that there is a majority within our community that see this as a value-added benefit. We have to follow the voice of the people within our community and make development in areas that are sustainable, not just convenient. I am open to this continued discussion so that we meet the needs of every resident within the community.

Daniel Nguyen: I have concerns about the impacts STR might have on the character and safety of our neighborhoods. I would like to see more research done on how the City can more effectively regulate this industry, mitigate the concerns about safety and prevent the over-commercialization of our neighborhoods.

As a councilor, I will advocate for a more cautious approach as we observe this phenomenon occurring across the nation — we can certainly learn from what other communities have been doing and come up with a solution that works for our community. The City could try to write rules that limit the number of days per year a room is rented or require owner-occupancy. But it is already difficult to enforce the existing code — and it would even more difficult to pull back from a 'test pilot' program.

John Wendland: Lake Oswego should not leap into Airbnb and STR head-first. We need to study other similar cities and figure out pros and cons and best practices.

I would ask for definition of short-term and frequency, whether we have resources to enforce it, what kind of permitting is needed, how much hospitality tax revenue would be collected, how many dwellings are allowed in the rental pool at a time, and what impact would it have on long-term rental housing? Another consideration is the requirement of owner occupancy at the time of rental.

Until we thoroughly do our homework, I am not going to support it. Before we let the Genie out of the bottle, let's decide if a sound policy that leans on restrictive use could or even should be a good starting point.

Randy Arthur: During my service on the Planning Commission, the "short-term rental" (STR) issue arose. I initially supported authorizing short-term rentals in residential areas. Nevertheless, I have developed reservations. There is legitimate concern regarding parking, heightened traffic, noise, privacy and incompatibility with residential neighborhoods if short-term rentals are approved.

Another point is affordability of workforce and senior-citizen housing. Our City Council is exploring appropriate incentives. Experience shows that STRs erode availability of "affordable" housing by redirecting rentals from monthly to the more lucrative short-term market.

The Planning Commission is considering recommendations about STRs and a community survey is being conducted. If elected to City Council, I will retain an open mind on this issue and vote based on the information and recommendations presented when it comes before the council.

We presently have a complaint-triggered enforcement approach. Whatever is ultimately decided on STRs, I support imposition and collection of hefty fines to provide a financial disincentive for ongoing or repeat violations.

Emma Burke: Airbnb and other short-term rental (STR) platforms are already operating (illegally) in Lake Oswego. Enforcing current laws that prohibit them aren't good use of City resources, so I believe they should continue to operate in Lake Oswego, but with rules and restrictions in place, including:

-- The owner obtains a business license in order to operate.

-- The owner/operator pays applicable lodging taxes.

-- The owner/operator adheres to neighborhood codes of conduct.

-- The owner/operator pays associated fines if found liable for breaking their agreement(s).

-- If major (and/or repeated) offenses occur, the owner/operator can lose their business license.

Of course, the City should ensure that the imposed fines structure pays for the cost to enforce violations of operating standards. The fines structure should be amended if it fails to generate the funds required to enforce violations.

4.

The Lake Oswego City Council currently maintains a policy of not officially commenting or taking positions on national political issues, but many other cities do not have this restriction. Do you support the existing policy? If not, how do you think the council should decide when to weigh in on national topics?

Donald Mattersdorff: Yes, I support the existing policy. Our city government maintains parks and roads and provides services such as police, fire and library. It's nonpartisan work almost by definition.

Although it's nonpartisan, that doesn't mean that it's easy, or that we always agree. We have plenty of debate over our local issues already. I do not want to interject sensitive, partisan national issues into the city discussion, for fear of making the job more difficult and of inflaming debate on issues over which, in fact, we have no jurisdiction.

Massene Mboup: The council should remain nonpartisan. Even though we each may have a political affiliation, the great thing about our council is that there is an effort to share ideas. I do not see the benefit of making the council partisan, because as it stands we each come with varying experiences, expectations and with a common goal of serving all Lake Oswego citizens, not partisan groups.

However, there are some moments in our history when silence can seem like complicity, or even worse, acceptance. There are some issues of national interest when the city has to take a strong position.

Daniel Nguyen: Generally, I agree that our City Council, City government and civic engagement are more effective and collaborative when we stay away from divisive, partisan, political debates. As an elected official, I will support the council's caution on weighing in on national political issues.

While I recognize that the City Council has no direct jurisdiction over national politics, we as private citizens are entitled to our own opinions and should have the same protections afforded other private citizens who may or may not be elected officials.

John Wendland: I fully support the existing policy. Council members are elected to nonpartisan positions with the full expectation from Lake Oswegans that their local government will focus on the needs of the citizens and the city.

Our current council works well together on policy and problem-solving at the local level. As a body, the council should continue to stay away from the vitriolic, divisive partisan rhetoric of the national dialogue.

One of the things I have always loved about Lake Oswego is living in an harmonious nonpartisan community. We are elected locally, we should focus locally.

Randy Arthur: The City Council generally should not officially take advisory positions on state and national political issues.

The policy described in your question is a prudent one. For example, much in our current national politics is divisive, uncivil and shrill. As residents of Lake Oswego, we should work to come together as a community to cooperatively address our pressing local, nonpartisan issues. Bringing national politics into our town can have the impact of unnecessarily dividing us and dividing the council.

If individual councilors wish to express an opinion on a state or national political issue, as has been done, they should do so during the "Councilor Information" portion of council meetings. At the same time, our City Council should not shrink from taking positions on issues impacting our local citizens' day-to-day lives, even though such issues also may play out on the state or national political stage. One such example is the City Council's September 2017 proclamation about Lake Oswego being a "Safe, Caring, Respectful Community."

Emma Burke: One of my biggest motivators to run for City Council came during the Public Policy tour in Washington, D.C., with Portland State University in March. Repeatedly, our Executive Master's in Public Administration cohort was told to restore faith in government by engaging constituents at the local level.

Recently, I was present when one of our city councilors made a personal comment about a national political issue. They respectfully stated their opinion without claiming to speak on behalf of the council. I appreciate how that situation was handled.

The existing policy allows our elected volunteers to focus on nonpartisan municipal issues. If the existing policy were to be amended to allow the council to comment on matters outside its jurisdiction, it could create a slippery slope that would potentially allow extreme political viewpoints based on the majority of beliefs of the council, and not necessarily reflect the views of the city.

Jackie Manz: In these times of constant change and divisive politics, I am loathe to distract from the good, solid work we do as a City Council. So yes, I do support the existing policy.

That said, I will also continue, as a private citizen, to support the state and national issues that are personally important to me.

Lake Oswego Review reporter Anthony Macuk contributed to this story. Contact Review Editor Gary M. Stein at 503-479-2376 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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