After 20 years as Tualatin's mayor, Lou Ogden wants at least four more

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Originally from Illinois, Lou Ogden, Tualatins mayor of 20 years, never had intentions to pursue political office. Lou Ogden never had intentions of being mayor. He didn’t want to be in charge and didn’t know much about local politics. He never wanted to upset anyone and definitely wouldn’t want to keep the job for 20 years.

Five terms and 20 years later, Tualatin’s mayor is up for reelection and running again.

“First of all, it’s not a career, because a career would imply that you’re getting paid to do it,” Ogden said laughing. “Being mayor or being on the city council — Why do you do that? To help people. I enjoy helping people, even those who maybe don’t want my help. But I enjoy helping people. I gives me satisfaction and it’s enriching.”

Since he first ran for city council a couple years before switching gears to mayor, Ogden’s primary goal has always been to simply give back to his community. He fell into his mayorship when the former mayor decided to run for a different office, and Ogden felt that the work needed to be continued. As one of three candidates (and a fourth write-in campaign that the incumbent ended up running) Ogden had no idea what his chances were of winning.

“Most of the people in town didn’t vote for me, but I got more than anybody else did because it was so split,” he said. “Since then, no one’s actually ever filed. People have discussed it and talked about it. I had one time, someone actually drew the papers but never turned them back in.”

Going into his sixth election, 59-year-old Ogden is so far the only person to have turned in his application. Unless someone files before the August 26 deadline, he will once again be running unopposed.

“It becomes part of your persona. I don’t measure myself by my profession or my title, or whatever, but you define yourself by what you spend your time doing. I spend a whole lot of time doing this, and it has become intrinsically part of me. I guess that’s probably another reason why I run again,” Ogden said. “I’m not driven to want to be a mayor. I’m not driven to want to be in charge of something. But I sort of just morphed into it, and it’s become a part of me here in Tualatin.”

It was a fair amount of happenstance that led the Illinois native to the area in the first place. After graduating from the University of Illinois with an engineering degree, Ogden, who has been an insurance broker for the past 20 years, got a job in Portland. He drove across the country, left behind his high school/college sweetheart, and started a life in Oregon. He got married, had a couple kids and ended up in Tualatin, where he’s been ever since.

“I get into a routine, maybe,” Ogden said. “I moved to Portland. Why would I leave? I moved to Tualatin in 1981. I’m in the same house. Why would I leave?”

After going separate ways, marrying different people and starting different lives, Ogden and his current wife reconnected after she’d been widowed and he was divorced. They married several years later, and today maintain a long-distance Oregon-Illinois relationship that also involves Ogden farming his wife’s 500 acre family farm.

Needless to say, he’s a busy man between working as an insurance broker, being mayor and farming in Illinois.

“I never complain or talk about how many hours I spend as mayor, because I do it all because I choose to,” Ogden said. “I enjoy doing it. I can’t necessarily explain why I enjoy doing all the stuff I do.”

Ogden might never have wanted to be mayor, but 20 years in the job he’s looking for at least four more. He has goals for improving traffic, better utilizing the Tualatin River and creating a concept plan for a downtown—all things it will be easier to accomplish in office.

“I’m proud that we have been able to maintain Tualatin as a vital community for growth and development, and yet still do it in a way—with the exception of traffic—to keep that small town feel, that closeness feel,” he said. “Would I run for office four years from now? Gosh four years is a long time away. I gotta get though this one first.”

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