Kim Bria sees that West Linn is ready for change. The contender for West Linn City Council also recognizes that the election on Nov. 3 is when that change could begin.
"There's 14 people running, between mayor and City Council, which is a strong signal that it's time to do it in a different way," Bria said. "I see a significant opportunity to have an effective council."
But Bria also knows the election won't solve everything. A shift in the makeup of council may lead to a better West Linn, but it will take time, she said.
"I have the patience for the pace of government," said Bria, a resident of West Linn since 1997.
For 25 years, Bria has worked in construction management, engineering support and public works, teaming with government agencies such as Washington County, Port of Portland and the Oregon Department of Transportation. She also helped the Portland Bureau of Tranpsortation with public outreach during construction.
Bria, who serves on the city's transportation and sustainability advisory board, said she's considered running for the council for a few years, but new details in the Michael Fesser case which came to light this year provided the final push for her to seek office.
She explained that the case — involving the racial profiling of the Black Portlander by West Linn police officers — was a signal that showed her of how broken the system at City Hall truly is.
In her campaign, Bria has put three issues at the forefront: transportation, community and economic development, and relationships with local and regional partners.
Bria said she recognizes the impact that tolling on I-205 could have on West Linn and why people are so concerned. She said working with neighboring communities is the best way to let legislators know that the state's tolling plan is not a good solution.
Bria noted that police reform will also be an important aspect of community development as West Linn moves forward.
"It's very important to me that everyone feels safe in this city. We've got the new Police Oversight Task Force," she said. "We have things started, but there's a lot of work involved in having that accountability."
Economically, Bria said West Linn needs to do a better job of supporting local businesses.
She pointed out that the city has resources including the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Committee and Clackamas County Business Alliance, but is not taking full advantage of them.
Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bria said it's important for the city to reach out and find how to best support the small businesses in town.
For future economic development, Bria said the city needs to take a look at its industrial and commercial zoning and figure out how to use those areas to attract jobs to West Linn.
While the city works to better itself, Bria said that trust, communication and collaboration will be more important than ever.
Bria noted that there are areas where communication between the mayor, council, staff and the city manager runs fluidly, and other places where it seems to break down.
"There's a lack of trust," she said, specifically noting when recommendations from staff or advisory boards aren't fully considered.
To address that lack of trust, Bria said the city needs to refocus its vision. All decisions should be made with this vision in mind she said, adding that the city could also use some clarity regarding the roles of everyone involved with the city.
"The city manager is the CEO of the city. He's the boss. He oversees staff. The council's job is to set policy and the city manager's role is to carry out that policy," Bria said.
"If it's blurry where those roles are, then you have overlap of everyone trying to do the same thing. If it's not your job but you don't trust the person doing it, find out what the reason for that is and allow them to do their job."
Communication and collaboration between the city and its citizens is also key, Bria said, adding that citizens need to feel heard.
Bria pointed to the incredible potential that the people in West Linn bring to the city.
"When I talk to different people in the city or in volunteer organizations, there is a lot of intelligence in this community and it's not connecting," she said.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.