It's Nguyen, Wendland and Manz
Lake Oswego voters chose small-business owner Daniel Nguyen, former School Board Chair John Wendland and incumbent Jackie Manz on Tuesday to fill three open seats on the City Council.
Unofficial results at midday Wednesday showed Nguyen with 20.4 percent of the vote, Wendland with 16.3 percent and Manz with 14.9 percent.
Massene Mboup, the founder and executive director of the International Leadership Academy, was close behind in fourth place with 14.6 percent, trailing Manz by only 127 votes.
Councilors Jeff Gudman, Joe Buck and Manz currently hold the spots up for grabs, but Manz was the only incumbent seeking another term; term limits prevented Gudman from running again, and Buck sought a spot on the Metro Council instead.
The race saw the largest and most diverse slate of candidates in recent memory. In addition to Nguyen, Wendland, Manz and Mboup, the field also included former Planning Commissioner Randy Arthur; Emma Burke, a member of the school district's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee; Lewis & Clark College archivist Hannah Crumme, who suspended her campaign in September but remained on the ballot; and former Hallinan Heights Neighborhood Association chair Donald Mattersdorf.
Many of those candidates gathered with community members for an election-night party at the Lake Theater and Cafe, where reactions to the results were generally positive and upbeart. Mboup said that despite falling short of a seat on the council, "we are here to stay and our voice will be heard."
"I am a man with a funny name and an accent, probably the least likely to get votes," he said Tuesday night. "But this community has not only been kind to me, they've engaged with me and asked me questions. Now I know where I am and how the community feels. No matter what, for me, we have won."
Mattersdorff said the results were disappointing, "but this has been a terrific experience. I've enjoyed meeting the voters and talking about the issues they're concerned with a lot. I'm honored to have been able to run for this position. I'm thankful and grateful to those who voted for me."
Burke also thanked her supporters. "It was great getting to know the people I ran against, and it was an honor all around getting to know the community better," she said. "Who knows what might happen in the future, now that I have more familiarity in the community."
In total, the seven active candidates collectively raised more than $114,000 in their bids to join the council. Nguyen's campaign focused on making sure all Lake Oswegans have the same opportunity to thrive, whether that be through encouraging the development of affordable housing, improving diversity among City staff or simply fostering public participation on local issues.
"Part of me wants to celebrate, but we need to be respectful, let the process take place and wait until every vote is counted," he said Tuesday night after the initial returns were released. "I thought that I misheard. I thought it was someone else's numbers or a race not in Lake Oswego. Then I thought about it, and it's a substantial number. I'm humbled. I'm floored that people put that much faith in me. I'm excited, but at the same time this is a great responsibility the people have entrusted unto me."
Nguyen and his wife Katherine are best known as the team behind Bambuza, a series of Portland-area Vietnamese restaurants. The family moved to Lake Oswego in 2010, although Nguyen has been a resident of the greater Portland area 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.
He said 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 said. "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."
Wendland said his campaign was about keeping Lake Oswego's edge.
"I really love Lake Oswego, and I want to keep it going in the right direction," he said. "I'm here for the whole city."
Progress is as important as process, Wendland said, and making sure the city is set up to succeed in a long-term and sustainable manner is his main goal.
Wendland is the owner and president of Portland Bindery Inc., which has been in operation since 2003. He also currently serves as the board chair of Reading Results, a Portland-based nonprofit that works to help economically disadvantaged students catch up on reading proficiency.
He was elected to the Lake Oswego School Board in 2009 and served two consecutive terms, including two one-year terms as the board's chair. He sought a third term in May 2017 but lost to current board member Sara Pocklington.
Wendland says he's had his eye on a City Council run for some time, but found himself busy with his roles in the school district. He cited the impending end of Gudman's term as a catalyst for his City Council campaign, saying his experience with budgets and the impact of state programs like PERS will enable him to fill the void after the council's strongest budget-and-numbers voice departs.
"I know have a job to do for all the people of Lake Oswego," he said Tuesday night. "It's nice that people have the confidence to put me on the City Council. Now it's time to start doing the work."
Manz campaigned on a promise to finish the work she started during her first term as city councilor. She said she's committed to seeing a long list of capital improvement projects through to completion, such as the Boones Ferry Road improvement project and a replacement for City Hall. She also wants to continue to play a role in the community's ongoing discussions about diversity, equity and inclusion; affordable housing; and the future of the Stafford region.
Manz said 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, she says, but Manz plans to approach the issue by prioritizing input from residents.
"I'm humbled by all of the support," she said Wednesday morning, "and thankful for the congenial race that this was. It was cordial and polite, evebn when we disagreed on the issues. Lake Oswego should be proud."
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