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Russ Axelrod is one of 11 mayors who spoke at the Westside Economic Alliance breakfast forum May 23 that focuses on cities.

PMG PHOTO BY PETER WONG - West Linn Mayor Russ Axelrod, right, speaks with Judy Willey, wife of Washington County Commissioner and former Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey, after a May 23 breakfast forum of Westside Economic Alliance.West Linn Mayor Russ Axelrod talked about emerging public projects and embracing community diversity during his stint at a Westside Economic Alliance breakfast forum.

The May 23 forum was the fifth such gathering for 11 mayors to discuss specific activities in their communities and respond to general concerns in the region.

West Linn is one of 12 member cities of the alliance, which brings together government, businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Axelrod spoke about the $20 million bond that city voters approved on Nov. 6 to raise money for work on Highway 43 and Willamette Falls Drive, and potential park and library projects. The measure simply extends bond authority that dates to 1998, so there is no property tax increase.

Axelrod said West Linn's main routes are Highway 43 and Interstate 205, both controlled by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

A major project proposes to widen I-205 from two to three lanes each way on the 6-mile stretch between Stafford and West Linn, and widen and strengthen the George Abernethy Bridge that carries I-205 across the Willamette River to Oregon City. But construction still awaits funding.

Axelrod said the city is developing a master plan for its waterfront on the Willamette.

"We have a long-range vision centered on Willamette Falls and the state heritage area we share with Oregon City," he said.

"It's a dynamic opportunity to bring the community and the region back to the river. But it's not going to work unless we pull together the transportation element."

West Linn's population is less diverse than most of the cities in the Westside Economic Alliance, which covers largely Washington County. But the city has West Linn Alliance for Inclusive Community, and Axelrod said he fully supports efforts to bring people together.

"It's so important for this country right now," he said. "I think there is nothing more important than taking care of our communities and embracing everybody. The national attitude is not acceptable."

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