Historic number of candidates enter West Linn City Council race
In stark contrast to the last West Linn City Council election — when two candidates ran for two open seats — 14 citizens have filed to run for the mayor's position and two council seats in this November's contest.
According to election records, West Linn hasn't seen this many candidates in an election since 2004, when all five councilors were elected in the same year and 12 candidates ran for those spots.
With a new city manager moving across the country to begin leading the city seven weeks before the election, council infighting and dysfunction nearing an all-time high, and the city reeling from a police scandal, the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout, many citizens have pointed out the paramount significance of this election. Here's a quick look at the citizens who have stepped up to help improve their city:
City Council candidates
• Rory Bialostosky
At 20 years old, Rory Bialostosky is one of the youngest candidates the city has ever seen. The West Linn High School grad and Lewis & Clark law student is no stranger to City Hall. He spent the latter half of his high school years fighting for more student parking at WLHS, and last year sued city Councilor Teri Cummings over unanswered records requests for her council notes.
"While our community and town itself is cherished, the same cannot be said about our city government over the past four years and beyond," Bialostosky said in a news release when announcing his candidacy. "West Linn needs thoughtful, transparent and fresh leadership to guide us through these next few years with many pressing issues on the horizon."
• Alex Juarez.
Alex Juarez, a 30-year-old owner of consulting firm Nebula LLC, is running for council because he wants to give back to West Linn in a meaningful way.
Juarez said he was dismayed at how little things had changed when he returned to West Linn after college. He also mentioned affordability as a problem he'd like to address.
• Mary Baumgardner
Also in the running for a council seat is Mary Baumgardner, who said she believes she has the skills and temperament for the work required of the council.
Baumgardner serves as secretary for the Willamette Neighborhood Association and is a member of the transportation and parks and recreation advisory boards.
"Post office access, regional transportation infrastructure projects, tolling and traffic challenges, police oversight, pandemic management and trust in city government are some of the issues that we need to work on together," Baumgardner said. "As a council member I will serve with humility and civility, bringing with me skills in mediation and conflict management to build trust and a positive image for West Linn that we can all be proud of."
• Vicki Olson
Vicki Olson, a member of the West Linn Committee for Citizen Involvement and a legislative assistant at the state Capitol, wants to bring her experience to City Hall.
"In Salem, working for over 60,000 constituents as a senior legislative staffer is an engaging task, and it doesn't matter if a constituent is a Democrat or a Republican. I am there to serve them regardless of their party affiliation," Olson said. "I would bring that mentality to the West Linn City Council and lead with an open mind. I strongly believe elected officials are not supposed to impose their will on their community but be a bridge to connect and advance the community by listening."
• Kim Bria
West Linn resident Kim Bria, a member of the transportation and sustainability advisory boards, said she was running for council "to serve a community I love and feel connected in, and to make sure all citizens feel safe and connected."
• Jenny Koll
Jenny Koll, a West Linn resident of 20 years, said she is disappointed in the inefficiency and divisiveness of the city's current administration.
"I am running for City Council to bring a fresh, homegrown viewpoint to our municipal government, comfortable with necessary reforms," Koll said. "As city councilor, I will unite the council as a cohesive body to work for our city with transparency, accountability and inclusivity."
• Ken Pryor
Fourteen years after an unsuccessful bid for a City Council seat, Ken Pryor is giving it another go. In the past, Pryor has been outspoken against racism in the community and the police force. "While there are many wonderful things about West Linn, Ken has seen from his 15 year perspective a level of dysfunction in city practices that was unlike anything he had seen in his business career," a press release from Pryor stated.
• Kari Johnsen
Kari Johnsen, the executive director for Habitat for Humanity's North Willamette Valley affiliate, said she's running for council because through her work she has seen deficiencies at the city level due to the lack of knowledge of some current council members.
"When you work with municipalities, you see the different ins and outs of city government, and I thought that I'd be able to do more with my knowledge and experience than what we've had recently," Johnsen said.
• Parker Crest NA Vice President and pickelball proponent Tom Meier was one of the last to file candidacy for the election.
"I've worked with the parks department for the last almost three years and the incompetence and lack of professionalism overwhelmed me to the point where I had to step in and at least throw my hat into the ring and offer a possibility of relief from the tremendous inefficiencies that I see in the city government," Meier said. Over the past few years, he has been a frequent critic of the Parks and Recreation Department and former City Manager Eileen Stein.
•Along with Meier, West Linn resident Leslie Hwa was the last to file as a city council candidate. She did not respond to a request for comment.
Looking to lead the City Council as West Linn's next mayor are Robert McCarthy, Andrew Mallory, City Councilor Jules Walters and Council President Richard Sakelik.
• Jules Walters
Walters, a city councilor for the past two years who would finish out the rest of her term if she lost the bid for mayor, is running to bring what she believes would be honest, transparent leadership to the city.
• Andrew Mallory
Mallory, a sales executive and four-year resident of West Linn, said it's crucial that West Linn use this moment to redirect itself in a more positive direction. He believes his honesty and transparency make him the right fit to lead that work.
• Richard Sakelik
Sakelik, who has served on the council for the past four years, said he "(cares) deeply about West Linn's future and protecting its best interests, and I will continue to do so as mayor. Together, we can lift up West Linn with meaningful and lasting change."
• One day before the filing deadline, Bolton Neighborhood Association President Robert McCarthy filed his candidacy for mayor.
"I have been involved in West Linn government for a long time and I have watched a pattern emerge and that pattern is one of an unhealthy organization," McCarthy said. "I've spent more than 30 years as a third-party change agent and I've helped in situations like ours to resolve dysfunction and conflict."
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