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Lake Oswego educator Massene Mboup plans to give new perspective to council if elected.

COURTESY PHOTO - Massene Mboup announces his candidacy for a seat on the Lake Oswego City Council.Massene Mboup wants to be part of the group of people who are challenging the systems and institutions that have had a culture rooted in racism and exclusion.

Mboup said if he can't work to advance Lake Oswego, defend human rights, stand for the voiceless, for schools and education, he doesn't want to be here.

Mboup said he doesn't want to live somewhere exclusive, rather a community that's diversified — whether that's economic, racial or perspectives. "That's where I want to be," said Mboup, adding that Lake Oswego is a beautiful community but that it can be better. "I just want our community to be an example in the region we are living."

Mboup is one of five community members who are now running for three open seats on the Lake Oswego City Council. Emma Burke, Rachel Verdick, Joe Buck and Melissa Fireside have also announced their candidacies.

Current Councilor Skip O'Neill's term is set to expire and Councilors John LaMotte and Theresa Kohlhoff have announced their candidacies for mayor.

This isn't Mboup's first time running for City Council. Mboup lost by 47 votes to current Council President Jackie Manz in 2018.

Mboup said he's running again because he still thinks he has a new perspective to bring to Lake Oswego.

"I bring my experience as an educator and as someone also who's been working in government for a long time, not even here but in my home country," Mboup said.

Mboup hails from Senegal, though he became a citizen of the United States on the day of the solar eclipse in 2017 and has lived in Oregon for more than 20 years.

Mboup said he's been involved with political parties and boards in the past. In Lake Oswego, Mboup serves on the city's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force as well as the school board's budget committee. He is also one of the founders and the executive director of the International Leadership Academy in Lake Oswego.

"We live in times that are very challenging and times that are very complicated. It's important to have folks that understand the root causes of all of this," Mboup said. "We are all people that live in Lake Oswego. We cannot pick and choose."

He said the people who reside in the city are all Lake Oswegans — they are not rich, poor, black or white, they are Lake Oswego.

"It's a system and every part of the system matters. I want to be part of those people who want to move Lake Oswego forward," Mboup said. "I think it's important that we see in everyone something positive, something good — that we never see someone as an enemy."

Mboup graduated with his doctorate degree in education from Portland State University June 12 and has lived in Lake Oswego for nine years.

Mboup said it's important not only to invest now but to invest in the future, and the youth who are showing they are leaders of change.

"I'm learning now, more so, to make sure our country is united — united because right now you see a divide and we have a problem of leadership on many sides," Mboup said. "The leadership is lacking in many places. This year I am running to be sure and to make sure that we unite our country … We question the grand narrative, (that) we are not just sitting and living the status quo and saying, 'we are fine.' We are not fine, societies are never fine. We always have to move forward."

Mboup added that when people talk about racism, it's systemic and has been built by people who had supremacy ideologies that didn't take into account the way things are now.

"I want to be part of those who are challenging them," he said. "I'm running to be part of this debate, to be part of this discussion that is unavoidable now. We can no longer continue to put bandages to sugar coat things. We have to face our destiny as a nation."

Mboup said he wants to be a problem solver and if elected, would work to preserve Lake Oswego's trees, participate in school and police reform, and improve infrastructure to keep children safe. He also wants to ensure folks can age in place, defend the environment and make sure policies take sustainability into account.

"Being a councilor doesn't mean you know everything," said Mboup, adding that the City Council has to listen to everyone to make an enlightened decision. "We have to listen to their narrative, what they think of things because they lived it. It's important to listen to lived experiences of people."

Mboup said he values the DEI Task Force that's been created but that it should go further than a task force.

"Maybe have an office of diversity, of inclusion — someone who is paid to work for that," he said. "I just want people to know that I want people to vote for me because I can be a voice there. I want people to trust me and to support me, support my campaign to make it a progressive campaign.

"I'm asking to serve."

For more information about Mboup, visit his website.


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