Morris: Things will get better!
In Mr. Swenson's Sept. 8 op-ed in the Woodburn Independent, he said "It's no secret politics are disappointing." Sadly, it is not politics that are disappointing, it's the politicians. When politicians think they can spin their version of the truth and believe people will not notice, that is disappointing.
Yes, the Woodburn City Council voted 5 to 1 that we do not have confidence in Mayor Eric Swenson. There were no secret meetings. Mr. Swenson had told city councilors that he would not allow the no confidence discussion to happen during a city council meeting.
I asked for the topic to be discussed, prior to Mr. Swenson declaring he was going to run for office again. I can only speculate that he did not want to discuss this in public, as he was preparing to run for mayor again. The mayor of Woodburn has very few formal powers, but they can make a big impact behind the scenes. For example, Mr. Swenson's actions and involvement in the COVID-19 Super 8 Isolation Center caused immense concern in our community. His actions and involvement with Marion County are clearly documented in the court record. It would appear that this evidence helped Marion County recently win the Isolation Center court case.
My hope was that the council's actions would help Mr. Swenson understand that he needs to focus on the best interests of Woodburn, not himself. Unfortunately, I was wrong. As the wildfires swept through Oregon and smothered Woodburn in smoke, Mr. Swenson posed for photo opportunities and blatantly ignored the Emergency Operations Command structure to self-promote during the crisis.
Right now, the city of Woodburn needs a leader who will put the safety of our community first.
Mr. Swenson and I met shortly after he declared he would be running for office again. He asked that we just campaign by encouraging people to vote. I explained to Mr. Swenson that no one is going to need encouragement to vote this year; the stakes are too high. I told Mr. Swenson that he has a record to run on this time and that I thought it was important for voters to consider his record.
If you are looking for a mayor who will tell you what you want to hear, who only shows you his incompetence or demonstrates his naïve actions with "his version of the truth," who constantly worries about what the media is reporting or someone who simply cannot get anything done, then I would encourage you to vote for Mr. Swenson.
If you want a mayor that understands how to build relationships that benefit the city of Woodburn, someone who focuses on ensuring all voices are heard and someone who values honesty and integrity above all else, then I would ask for your vote this November.
As your mayor, my first priority will be to repair the relationships with the city council, city staff and members of the community. I believe we must focus on economic stability and support our local businesses while bringing more jobs to Woodburn. We will get things done and make our community stronger.
I want to leave you with one campaign promise — things will get better. It will take time, however, now is a pivotal moment for Woodburn as we navigate through the challenges of 2020. With good leadership, our community will come back stronger than ever. Things will get better.
Eric Morris represents Ward VI on the Woodburn City Council and is a candidate for Woodburn mayor.
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