In King City, a City Council position is a volunteer job. The councilors must blend city activities with day jobs.
These public servants have a lot on their plates.
"I have the greatest respect for what it is they're doing and their dedication to trying to help the city be the best it can be," said Mayor Ken Gibson, who leads the seven-member council.
Councilor John Boylston
John Boylston is an attorney who practices estate planning near Washington Square.
He's born-and-raised in the Portland area — born at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center in Portland, and raised in the Cedar Hills area, where he attended Beaverton public schools.
For a time after high school, Boylston lived in California.
"I went from Sunset High to Westmont College in Santa Barbara," Boylston said. "I went down to enjoy the sun for a little bit."
Boylston attended the University of Southern California for law school.
"While at USC, I realized I wanted to come back home to Portland for my life and career," Boylston said, although he worked at a law firm in Los Angeles for a time before moving back to Oregon.
Heading north, Boylston discovered King City.
"I personally love the blend of King City, where it started, and where it's going," he said. "I love the traditional part of King City that first started around the golf course, in our over-55 communities. Then I love that, just across the street, are all these young families, where a lot of people are starting their lives."
Boylston receives satisfaction from serving as a volunteer city councilor.
"I love being on the council," he said. "I think it's like all things in life, though. It's largely because of the people I get to work with."
Councilor Gretchen Buehner
Gretchen Buehner has always called Oregon home, and she is proud to provide a taste of her family history.
"I'm a several-generation native of Oregon," she said. "One of my triple-great-grandmothers was born in a covered wagon in Eastern Oregon, coming on the Oregon Trail. My great-grandfather Buehner, was an engineer who worked on Powell Butte."
(You can find the Buehner House on the campus of Western Seminary in Portland.)
Buehner, an attorney, has served the cities of Portland and Tigard over the years. In 1987, Buehner won the Spirit of Portland Award for volunteer service. She served on the Tigard City Council from 2007 through 2014, before she moved to King City in 2015.
"When I had been here a few months, I knew the former city manager because he lived across the street from my mother," Buehner said. "He, knowing my past service, suggested I apply to get on the King City Planning Commission."
King City council members get along well, according to Buehner, but that doesn't mean there can't be a few disagreements along the way.
"Most of the time, things will be unanimous," Buehner said. "But it's OK if somebody, like me, occasionally disagrees. We will have a discussion."
Buehner, coming from a politically active family, has always had a desire to give back to the community.
"I can make a big difference in my local community," Buehner said, noting she would encourage others to serve.
Councilor Micah Paulsen
Micah Paulsen grew up with an interest in government. Paulsen, who now works as an insurance broker, recalled his path to the City Council.
"A couple of years ago, I started working with one of my fellow councilors, Jaimie Fender, with the King City Community Foundation," Paulsen said. He later began working with Mayor Gibson as well, and eventually, he ended up on the council himself.
Paulsen was able to see a bit of the country before settling in King City.
"Actually, I was a bit of a nomad in my early years," he said. "I was born in Montana and lived in Washington, D.C. I ended up growing up mostly in the Seattle area, on a little island called Bainbridge Island, across the way from Seattle."
In 2012, Paulsen moved to the Portland area. He and his wife moved to King City in 2016.
Paulsen started learning about the community.
"One of the first things that really hit us was a clean, friendly atmosphere — especially in the Edgewater community, in which we live," Paulsen said. "I didn't get a lot of exposure to the traditional King City, until I started playing golf quite a few times at King City Golf Course and met a lot of residents driving through or walking through."
Paulsen discovered a few amenities that fit his lifestyle.
"We're more outdoorsy types," Paulsen said. "We love to get out and hike and be outside. I have two big dogs that I enjoy taking for walks around the neighborhood and around those trails down by the river. It's a neat cross between a small town and that closeness to nature, which I really appreciate."
Admitting that he is relatively new to the council, and still learning, Paulsen said, "One of the great benefits is getting to work with a group of people that really have the best interests of our city, and the future of our city, in mind. I really appreciate being able to work with the group of people that we have on the council. I really feel like we have a fairly unified vision of where we want to go as a city."
Councilor Jaimie Fender
Founder and president of the King City Community Foundation, as well as a city councilor, Jaimie Fender is so busy it can be a challenge to catch up with her. She participates on the city council and plans several community events.
"I wear various hats, and I try to always be very clear on what role I am participating in," Fender said.
An attorney by day, Fender grew up in Eugene, graduated from Tualatin High School in 1996, then studied both abroad and at the University of Oregon.
"I moved away to Europe for 10 years, essentially," she said. "I went to law school in London. I studied abroad, worked abroad, came home (to Bull Mountain)."
In 2012, Fender and husband bought a home in King City's Edgewater community.
Fender believes in serving the community.
"I really do love the Lions Club's motto, which is 'we serve,'" Fender said. "It's kind of a calling. … I can't really help it. It started when I was in, probably, middle school."
Fender is pleased with the way the city is tackling certain growth in the future.
"I am so proud and excited about the choices that we have made and the thoughtfulness of how to support and foster this unique city when it grows, so that we don't lose the wonderful and unique aspects of King City," Fender said. "I think we have figured out a really phenomenal way to allow the city to flourish and grow without extinguishing what makes it so special."
Councilor David Platt
David Platt arrived in King City via the Midwest and California.
"I worked for Consolidated Freightways, started out in Chicago, then moved to Menlo Park," Platt said.
He moved to Portland, then to Southern California, and then back to the Portland area, where he finally settled in the Highlands community — which was, at the time, just outside King City limits.
Platt was serving as president of the Highlands Homeowners Association board in 2016, as the HOA was having serious talks with King City about coming into the city.
"During that period, we annexed the Highlands to King City," Platt explained.
Platt enjoys being in King City.
"We are living in a 55-plus community, which we love," Platt said. "We've been able to have an impact on the community directly surrounding us. I hope that I'll be able to contribute to the development of our city. We're looking forward to some pretty ambitious plans."
Speaking of the City Council, Platt said, "I believe we have a great working relationship. I believe we're going to have a good mix of ideas and direction."
Councilor Smart Ocholi
The journey Smart Ocholi took to King City is a fascinating one, with an international flavor.
Ocholi was born in Nigeria. He benefited from the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which allows folks to move from a foreign country to the United States. Ocholi won a spot through the lottery program in 2001.
"My wife and I, we are blessed and fortunate enough," Ocholi said. "We have good family friends and a support system. We have a network of wonderful people who helped and supported us."
Arriving in the United States in 2002 with his wife, Ocholi felt a need to join the U.S. Army to, in his words, serve and contribute to his new country.
Posted to Germany with his wife, who served with him, Ocholi recalled, "It gave us a chance to meet people from all over the country."
Back in the United States, and after living in Lake Oswego, Ocholi — who still works with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — found King City.
"We saw an opportunity to live, serve and contribute to the community and we jumped on it," Ocholi said. "We really appreciate the people, the community, welcoming us."
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