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Key city-council race pits recent high school grad against veteran of several previously unsuccessful campaigns.

Voters for a key city-council race in Gladstone will either elect an 18-year-old as the youngest official in the state or a 50-year-old perennial candidate who has unsuccessfully run several previous political campaigns in Clackamas County.Bill Osburn and Luke Roberts

Public records show that Luke Roberts has not yet voted in an election as an adult, although he was eligible to participate in the May primary. At the time of the primary election, Roberts was preparing to graduate from Gladstone High School, where he had been elected by his underage peers as student-body president.

If elected to city council, Roberts intends to focus on public safety, renewable energy and development of Gladstone's "social infrastructure," including parks and educational settings. With no one under 30 currently on city council, Roberts plans to bring "needed" creative solutions to address how young people experience economic and social changes differently than other demographics.

"The time has come for young voices to be heard," he said. "I am running for city council so I can support both the younger generation and the broader Gladstone community at large with my unique ideas and fresh perspective on the issues that affect everyone."

Bill Osburn's political experience includes six failed attempts to be elected to public office, but Osburn has served in various appointed positions and successfully led a recall campaign against two city councilors in 2017. Osburn has lost elections for city council in 2016, 2018 and 2020; school board in 2019; and the county commission in 2020 and 2022.

Osburn's campaign is emphasizing his experience on city advisory boards, and well as service to Gladstone through environmental cleanups and leading the board of the Gladstone Historical Society. In these roles, he has helped advocate for various reforms throughout the city.

"Being a small business owner and a commercial fisherman taught me how to keep calm and deal with problems on the move in a high-stakes environment," he said. "I offer new out-of-the-box ideas to solve issues without simply spending more."

Osburn's false voter-fraud accusation against Roberts kicked off this year's council race. Roberts could not have committed voter fraud, having never voted in a Clackamas County election, but Osburn nevertheless incorrectly charged Roberts with voting in Milwaukie while living in Gladstone.

Osburn said that he had been told over the phone that Roberts had voted in Milwaukie, but Osburn later said he regretted not waiting until he had obtained written records from the Clackamas County Elections Office. Roberts' campaign pointed out the irony of Osburn's false accusation, given Osburn's criminal history.

Osburn was convicted of a felony for first-degree theft in 1994; he was 22 years old at the time. In 2014, he didn't have a wholesale fishing license and was found guilty of not having the proper license for doing business in Marion County. Clackamas County Court records indicate that in 2008, he initially failed to appear in court on a speeding ticket. Twice in 1989, before he obtained his driver's license, he was caught driving uninsured.

Osburn has continued to make headlines throughout Gladstone, most recently by publishing public records associated with Administrator Jacque Betz's July 2020 complaint against City Councilor Matt Tracy.

City councilors agreed to pay an investigator more than $7,000 to research how Osburn, who was removed as a city advisory board member by a 6-1 council vote in July 2021, may have obtained the public records. The investigation found "no definitive evidence indicating that anyone in particular" leaked public documents marked "confidential" to Osburn, who claimed that he was surprised to find them anonymously left on his porch one day in a white envelope.

Tracy wrote a Dec. 31 email to rescind his "verbal resignation" delivered to City Council on Dec. 14 before he walked out of the meeting, two weeks after the release of the investigation report. Tracy is vacating his council position at the end of the year, spurring two other candidates to vie to fill his seat.

Former Gladstone City Councilor Neal Reisner, who has volunteered for the city's budget and audit committees, is running for Tracy's seat against Veronica Reichle, who has served on the board for the Gladstone Public Library Foundation and was the co-chief petitioner for a successful 2016 ballot measure to require public votes if the city ever intends to sell a public park for private development.

In the mayoral race, Tammy Stempel is running for reelection against two opponents, former city councilors Michael Milch and Steve Johnson. City Councilor Mindy Garlington is facing reelection opposition from Vanessa Huckaby, who is running to "stand up to hate."


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