If elected to the Lake Oswego City Council, Melissa Fireside said she would bring an entrepreneurial spirit, and commitment to community activism and building trust within the city.
"When you're willing to be at the apex of your neighbors' highs and lows and be the person they seek out, seek refuge with and seek to celebrate with, that's the greatest gift you can bring to a community," Fireside said.
Fireside announced her candidacy for the 2020 City Council race late last week. Fireside is one of five community members who are now running for the three open seats on the City Council this November. Emma Burke, Rachel Verdick, Joe Buck and Massene Mboup have also announced their candidacies.
"I'm running for council because I see our city as on the cusp of major economic and social investment," said Fireside, who wants the voice of those investments to be from the people.
Fireside has lived in Lake Oswego for the last five years with her four-year-old son. She received her Ph.D in organization and management specialization in management education in 2014 from Capella University and owns Resolute Consulting PDX — a strategic management business that offers consulting services in Portland and surrounding areas.
Fireside has experience on various committees and boards including the Racial Justice Subcommittee of Clackamas Democrats Justice Committee, the Lake Oswego Budget Committee (where she served as an alternate) and the Clackamas County Mental Health and Addiction Advisory Council. She also is a professor for the International Baccalaureate Management Section.
Fireside has been active both socially and politically and said she has had the opportunity to learn and gain firsthand knowledge of the opportunities and struggles the community faces.
"I really want to work hard to make sure each code, policy or directive positively impacts our citizens," said Fireside, adding that if you're truly using an equity lens then every policy should inconvenience and convenience every citizen the same. "I believe that you bring to the table only as much as you're willing to learn."
Fireside said she believes she is a unique candidate because she has "a bold voice that will open up space and allow people to share their lived experience so we can actually build a community together."
Fireside said she is willing to learn, make mistakes and serve in order to help deliver "world-class services" to everybody.
"(I) want to earn the right to sit on the council and be the voice of the people and listen to them," Fireside said. "I don't have all the answers but I know there's people in the community and around me that do."
Fireside said that people shouldn't necessarily run for office because they're the best person for the job, but rather because they see the best in the community they seek to serve.
She added that it's important to have people who are willing to work collaboratively and are dedicated to the process. And if she doesn't know the answer, Fireside said she will find out.
When Fireside was elected to serve as an alternate on the budget committee, she said she wasn't just serving to check boxes. She believes in fiscal responsibility and that where the city decides to spend money should be based on what the community values.
Fireside said she's interested in creating entry points for women and diverse businesses in Lake Oswego, partnering with regional organizations in the process. If elected, Fireside said she will work toward protecting and managing the urban forest, so as the city meets density requirements there's a management plan in place for protecting the forests.
Ultimately, Fireside said she is fully committed to ensuring the city meets its goals in the comprehensive plan and making sure the city follows through with work on major issues like diversity, equity and inclusion, and climate change policies. Fireside doesn't want these issues to be a "symbol" — an image that the city is doing something, with no real policy action behind the issue.
"The climate we're in right now is extremely important to me and I hope we keep not only furthering dialogue, but that we become driven and committed to making sure policies are driven and used in order to protect people and make sure we're all safe in a meaningful way," said Fireside, adding that she hopes citizens don't miss this moment and "that we seize it and we embrace our youth and the people of color in our community and anyone who feels marginalized in our community."
Fireside vows to make policy decisions through a lens that encompasses everyone.
To Fireside, love and service are verbs — "and we need so much more of that," she said.
For more information about Fireside, visit her website.
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