City Councilor Frank Lonergan running for Woodburn Mayor
City Councilor Frank Lonergan has lived in Woodburn for almost 60 years, and with his retirement coming up this week he's looking to direct even more of his attention to his hometown.
Lonergan, a city councilor for the last 12 years, is now running for mayor.
"It's a chance to be more active in the community," Lonergan said. "This is a great time to be in Woodburn."
Lonergan has lived in Woodburn since he was a kid. He raised his son Shawn in Woodburn with his wife, Cheryl, a retired educator who taught correctional education for 30 years at Chemeketa Community College.
Shawn Lonergan is a major in the U.S. Army, working in cyber-tactical operations for the National Surveillance Agency. He received a Bronze Star for his service in Iraq.
"We got lucky, he turned out pretty good," Lonergan said.
Lonergan has worked for 30 years as a manager of Republic Services trash collection company in Wilsonville, commuting daily from his home in Woodburn.
Serving in local government has been a way to stay involved in the community, he said. Lonergan has been a city council member for 12 years, the last four of which he was nominated president of the council by his fellow members. Before running for councilor he served as a Planning Commission member and chairman of the parks board.
During his time with the city, Lonergan has worked on projects like the splash pad and getting restrooms installed at Library Park. As a member of the parks board he helped get the land for Centennial Park. He invested years of work into the Urban Growth Boundary expansion, which was approved by the state in January 2016 adding 619 acres to the city.
"I spent years getting the UGB expanded, so I'm glad to see the fruition of that," Lonergan said.
Lonergan said his main priority as mayor would be securing Woodburn's continued economic development and creating more jobs as the city expands. He also hopes to improve Woodburn's transportation system to make it easier for workers to commute, and work with the school district to ensure the district has enough capacity for the town's growth.
"How are we going to handle commuters, school buses, Settlemier can only handle so much traffic," he said.
Lonergan said he was concerned with the progress of the First Street Improvement Project, considering that there are still several rundown buildings on First Street whose owners have been unwilling to repair or sell their properties.
"If we are putting $4 million into First Street, there's some issues that need to be taken care of," Lonergan said.
He said he was happy to see the city developing its public arts and murals alongside improvements to infrastructure.
"Public art goes along with development," he said. "It's a sign of a vibrant and strong community."
Lonergan said he would also be a strong proponent of moving the community center project into the construction phase, although he admitted he will be sad to see the baseball diamond replaced where he grew up playing ball.
"We've been talking about the community center for over 20 years, maybe 40," he said. "I believe it's something the city is willing to get behind and support."
Lonergan said he believes his experience in business and management, and his lifetime of experience living in Woodburn, make him a strong candidate for mayor.
"We need good business growth, and I have 50 years of a business background," Lonergan said. "I think I can get us there."