'I've really learned to bring people together'
Rachel Verdick's personal experiences have shaped her to be independent, resourceful and a leader — qualities she believes would make for a good addition on the Lake Oswego City Council.
Attending a women's college, living and working abroad, being a business owner and a Navy wife have all shaped the type of woman Verdick is today.
"The military has played a big role in my life," said Verdick, whose husband, Jonathan Puskus, is in the Navy Reserves.
Verdick announced her candidacy back in June because she said she believed Lake Oswego is in a good position right now to start making positive change.
"I'm running because I love the city and I want to be part of helping it write its next chapter," Verdick said. "I want to be part of its future and make a positive impact."
Verdick is an Oregon native and hails from Southwest Portland. She received her bachelor of arts in sociology from Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana. She went on to receive her master's in business from the University of Notre Dame and a master's in design studies with a focus in historic preservation from Boston Architectural College. She also received an associates degree from Portland Community College in architecture.
"I like school," she said.
Verdick said attending an all-women's college at Saint Mary's was a big influence in her life because it taught her how to be a strong leader.
"In addition, I've had a variety of opportunities to live and work abroad," said Verdick, adding that she studied in Paris and did work in South Africa. "That's exposed me to different cultures and the ability to have a better understanding of other cultures and how they work and how people live."
Verdick said her independent attitude was formed by her husband's involvement with the Navy.
"Which I think is a good thing … and led to a variety of experiences," she said.
Through her personal ability to build strong relationships, her education and business experience, Verdick said she has a well-rounded skillset.
"I've really learned to bring people together and to collaborate," said Verdick, adding that when people work together, it builds a stronger community with more diversity of thought when making decisions.
Verdick moved to Lake Oswego 20 years ago and works as a building designer for Verdick Residential Designs.
She said her interest in politics sparked because of her relation to the military and her husband's family.
"My mother-in-law was on Lake Oswego City Council, so as I had meals with my husband's family and so forth, politics were always part of the conversation at the table," she said.
With her husband's involvement in the Navy, she said it was important to be aware of politics on a national level and understand what's going on internationally.
Over the past 10 years she became more involved with the city.
She is the vice chair of the city's Historic Resources Advisory Board (HRAB), the president of the Lake Oswego Preservation Society, and an active volunteer helping design both the Lake Oswego Veterans and First Responders Memorial in Foothills Park and the future home of the Arts Council of Lake Oswego in the new City Hall.
Over the years, Verdick has served on various boards and committees of the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce including Young Professionals Lake Oswego, Leadership Lake Oswego, Lake Oswego Veterans Memorial Board, neighborhood associations and more.
Verdick mentioned that she believes in the importance of being involved and engaged in the community as a citizen.
"I also believe in service," Verdick said. "Many members of my family are in the military or are retired from or have served in the military."
She said her mother is a retired special-education teacher and she has family members who are firefighters.
Verdick said people have encouraged her to run for City Council in the past but the timing didn't feel right until now.
Seattle resident Marci Nemhauser — who lived in Lake Oswego for more than 30 years before moving to Washington five years ago — got to know Verdick through her involvement with the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce's Leadership LO program.
"First of all, she is incredibly bright, a quick study, a quick learner and she focuses on detail," Nemhauser said.
Nemhauser also said Verdick's ability to collaborate and to listen, even when she disagrees, is a good skill to bring to the table. Especially in today's climate, Nemhauser said it's important to have someone willing to be open to hearing different points of view.
"Running for office, I've learned this so much over the last couple months: It takes a lot of time and energy (and) personally, it was the right time," Verdick said.
Verdick added that her business is fairly well-established, she's completed graduate school and her husband is around more.
"For many of those years he was deployed," she said. "In terms of the political climate, I feel it's important to step up, and I think as a woman, it's important to step up and become involved."
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