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West Linn City Council candidate wants to improve communication between citizens and city hall

West Linn City Council candidate Jenny Koll wants voters to know that she is a woman of her word.

"I will take in what you have to say, and use my best judgment to represent each and every resident and each and every voice in this community," said Koll.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Jenny Koll, a candidate for West Linn City Council, hopes to improve communication between the city and its citizens. Koll, who is one of 10 candidates running for two open city council seats in November, moved to West Linn with her family in 1997. She attended Cedaroak Park Primary and Rosemont Ridge, then graduated from West Linn High School in 2007.

After graduating from University of Portland, she taught three years at a school district in New Jersey, where most students were at or around the poverty level, she said. Koll went on to earn a master's degree in international peace and conflict resolution from American University.

During her time at American University, Koll interned with the U.S. State Department's Office of Peace and with Mercy Corps.

Koll said that while she's always paid attention to local politics, she hasn't actively participated until recently.

"Especially with going back to graduate school, I've seen the forces that play on local levels, and I decided that I can't just stand back anymore and just let things happen," she said.

She is now president of her homeowner's association and a precinct committee person for Clackamas County, making sure residents in her precinct get out and vote.

She also served on the citizen panel for city manager interviews earlier this summer.

The more she got involved with the community, the more reasons she saw to run for City Council.

One of Koll's primary reasons for running, she said, was what she described as the disconnect between City Hall and citizens.

"I want to be that bridge builder. I have a strong background in community organizing and communication throughout all of my various experiences," Koll said. "And so I want to bring each individual, all of our neighborhoods, into the city government and really build that connection so that we make sure everything the city government is doing reflects the needs and desires of our citizens."

Koll said learning about the wrongful arrest of Michael Fesser was the final motivator that pushed her to become more involved.

"We need to see diversity, equity and inclusion to be an ongoing and iterative part of our city government, not just a one-time audit, not just a one-time activity," she said.

In addition to building bridges between the city and citizens, and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion, Koll said she also wants to help make sure tasks get done.

Specifically, she mentioned completing general obligation bond projects and making sure the post office stays in town.

Koll said that tolling on I-205 is another concern of hers. Responding to the Oregon Department of Transportation survey likely won't be enough to deter tolls on I-205, she said.

The city needs to create a united front with its neighbors, including Oregon City, Lake Oswego, Clackamas and Wilsonville, to make sure ODOT hears the message about tolling, according to Koll.

In addition to making sure the voices of West Linn residents are heard, Koll said she is ready to advocate on behalf of West Linn citizens when the Clackamas 800 group meets in January to talk about the emergency radio tower proposed for the Marylhurst neighborhood.

On the economic front, Koll's priorities are to reopen the Willamette Falls Locks and help local businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Going into the wetter and colder months, I'm genuinely concerned about the feasibility of our businesses to remain open, because so much of it is relying upon sitting outside and being dry and comfortable temperature-wise," she said.

Koll specifically mentioned recent legislation proposed in congress that would provide economic aid to food and drink establishments.

"We need people on our council who know how to navigate that process to make sure our state, and more importantly, our local bodies get the aid that they need. It's not their fault that folks can't eat out as much, that folks are choosing to stay home," she said. "So we should do everything that we can to make sure our small businesses remain resilient."

Lastly, Koll said that she would be honored to serve the people of West Linn by building a more cohesive council that listens to residents.

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