A passion to lead Lake Oswego
Lake Oswego City Councilor John LaMotte has a passion for leadership, positive change and making cities better places to live.
Those are some of the attributes — along with his professional career in city planning — that he said make him a good candidate for mayor of Lake Oswego.
LaMotte announced in the spring that he would run in November to replace Mayor Kent Studebaker, whose term is set to expire this year.
LaMotte said he grew up in a loving household. His dad was a social worker, which he believed influenced him and his siblings early on in their careers. He said his dad's career drove him toward the social side of city planning — community-building and helping to grow cities.
"When I discovered city planning, it just came together for me," he said.
LaMotte first recognized his love for city planning at the University of Utah, where he received a bachelor's degree in geography with an emphasis in city planning.
"This is my calling," LaMotte said.
The profession covers a wide range of issues that affect communities. While he was studying in college, LaMotte said he started to see the power and potential for helping people while being a leader, so his professional life naturally came together.
He later received his master's degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Wisconsin.
"It's just something I feel so strong about, and having a city planning background really carries you for city planning and council," said LaMotte, adding that policies and projects that affect the city help propel him forward to get things done.
LaMotte grew up in Chicago and when he met his wife, Jennifer, 11 years ago, "It was love at first sight," he said. "It was such a life changer. I started to realize it was time for me to start going west."
LaMotte said he fell in love with the mountains and his wife, who grew up in Southern California, agreed. He had a cousin who raised his children in Lake Oswego, and he had also visited the area on business.
"She fell in love with it," LaMotte said. "I was already in love with Oregon."
He said Lake Oswego had qualities a planner would appreciate — great schools, good natural resources, solid infrastructure and a strong downtown core — and those things drew him to the city.
When he moved to Lake Oswego eight years ago, he wanted to give back to the community.
He first got involved with the planning commission, which led him to take the next step and serve on the Lake Oswego City Council for the last four years.
"Now that we've done a lot of things, we've done a lot of projects … I just felt it was the logical next step to run for mayor," LaMotte said.
He added he wants to keep the city's good services operating while also being strategic and getting more projects accomplished.
In addition to being on the council, LaMotte is also on the board of the Arts Council of Lake Oswego, serves as chair of the Clackamas County Economic Development Commission and is a member of the Lake Oswego Economic Development Team. LaMotte is the former president of the Village on the Lake Homeowners Association and also served on the Clackamas County Sheriff's Juvenile Diversion Program panel for Lake Oswego.
"I think John would be a terrific mayor for Lake Oswego because he brings a lot of personal attributes that I think are important for the role," said Bill Tierney, Lake Oswego resident and former city councilor. "I know he has a real love for government, good government and efficient government. I think he would be really strong in that."
Tierney serves on the Arts Council of Lake Oswego with LaMotte and said his engagement and communication with the community is important.
"The government and particularly elected people do not function in isolation," said Tierney, adding that LaMotte is constantly talking with residents, receiving feedback and listening to people to solicit ideas for how to improve the city. "He's just a warm person. You meet him (and) you feel like you've known him for a long, long time."
During LaMotte's time on the council, there were many moments that helped shape him. One particular incident was when he found out that First Addition neighbors were concerned about open holes that were being dug for a new home. They were concerned because the holes were not fenced off or safe. LaMotte said they were told the city didn't have jurisdiction and that they should call the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. LaMotte spoke with key city figures and found a rule that essentially said there must be a fence erected around the construction foundation until the house is framed.
"For me, that was a small victory," LaMotte said. "In a sense, we helped a situation that was not being done right."
When LaMotte thinks about his wife and 3-year-old daughter, Lake, he can't help but think about the future of the city and the world.
"I look at her (Lake) and I think, 'Wow, she could live to the 22nd century,' so my horizon for 10 to 20 years … has extended 50 to 60 years," LaMotte said. "What are we leaving our children to make our planet better? To make humanity better? (We need to) make sure we're doing the right thing down the road."
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