Candidate profile: Kristin Akervall brings analytical mindset to the council
Editor's note: Pamplin Media Group is running candidate profiles for the next six weeks, starting with the City Council race and concluding with the mayoral race between Councilor Ben West and former councilor Julie Fitzgerald.
Wilsonville City Council President Kristin Akervall visualizes her roles and responsibilities as a Venn diagram.
Her daughter, husband and family fit into one circle, her career and studies encompass another and her role on the council falls into the third.
The three segments merge into one another, forming one larger structure that could be called her life.
"I do believe they all serve each other," she said.
Akervall hopes to use her acumen and personal experience to represent the Wilsonville community for four more years. The council president is running for one of two open seats on the council against Councilor Joann Linville, John Budiao and Imran Haider.
Akervall began her council tenure in 2017 after serving on the city's Development Review Board and the West Linn-Wilsonville School District's Budget Committee. In 2019, the council unanimously voted to appoint her to the position of council president.
Akervall said she entered her first term believing that local government can make a difference in people's lives and that her experience affirmed that conviction. But she's learned that projects take time; the city's plan to redevelop Town Center into a more attractive community hub, for instance, could take at least 20 years.
Mayor Tim Knapp believes Akervall has been a valuable voice on the council in recent years and described her as "attentive" and "insightful."
"She is thoughtful and I think we have been well served by the time she has spent in that position as a community and as a council," he said.
Knapp has particularly valued Akervall's analytical ability and said she has played an important role in deciphering arcane topics like the city's water rate structure. Akervall worked as an accreditation analyst at Lewis & Clark College before quitting to start a master's degree program in business analytics from Syracuse University last year.
"She is analytical. She is very skilled with looking at statistics and data and seeing the implications of that information and is able to help other people on council understand what she is understanding from that data," Knapp said.
For her part, Akervall said she's naturally shy, but relishes listening to others, analyzing information and reflecting.
"I'm a reflective person, not a reflexive person," she said. "I bring seriousness; I love this community. I understand complexities. I don't think any of it (the council's work) should be done lightly," she said.
One defining moment from her first term, Akervall said, was the inclusivity resolution the city passed, which declared that all people regardless of race, sexual orientation, creed or other traits should be treated fairly, prohibited city funds from being used to enforce federal immigration law and mandated that city services should be provided regardless of immigration status, among other decrees.
"In the meetings that led up to passing that resolution, I saw an outpouring of support from the community. Not everyone, but many who came spoke about what their vision was, and I love seeing that community involvement and hearing the heartfelt testimony, that extension of care," she said.
Akervall also enjoyed serving in the mayoral role for one evening while Knapp was absent, which gave her the opportunity to sign the passage of the Town Center Plan. Akervall was passionate about that project and spent years helping shape it.
"I remember that feeling really good. It was special being able to sign that ordinance knowing the work that went into it and the community support that went into it," she said.
Alongside Knapp, Akervall also conducted initial interviews with candidates vying to replace Susie Stevens on the council. After the initial interviews, she helped narrow the list of candidates from 10 to five finalists before the council voted to appoint Linville.
"I remember coming away from that experience feeling extremely grateful that we have so many members of our community that were and are ready to serve," she said.
Balancing her various roles has not always been easy, Akervall said. For instance, over the past few years, her daughter, Odessa, has been the lone child in the audience at a number of work sessions and meetings.
And this juggling act has become that much more challenging during the pandemic. Like many families, Akervall, her husband and daughter are all "bouncing around the house" throughout the day trying to satisfy myriad responsibilities.
"I think it's important that we realize we're not alone in this," she said. "It's easy to feel that sense of isolation and failure. We're being asked to do really hard things. I don't have solutions for everything, but I recognize the challenge, and I do think that trying to extend that care and support to everyone around us, that makes a difference."
Even though times are tough, the pandemic has made Akervall even more motivated to work in the interest of her community.
"I have respect for my community and I think we need thoughtful, strategic decisions that are going to serve all of our community members. I want to give our city my best because I think our community members deserve it," she said.
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