Candidate profile: Pickleball advocate takes aim at City Council
For Tom Meier, the race for a seat on the West Linn City Council is about more than local politics. It's about saving lives.
The 73-year-old recently contracted non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which he says is a direct result from his time spent at West Linn parks, where chemical weed killers like Roundup are used.
Over the past few years, Meier, who is vice president of the Parker Crest Neighborhood Association and very active in West Linn's pickleball scene, has been an adamant critic of the West Linn Parks and Recreation Department and former City Manager Eileen Stein.
Meier's main concern with the management of the parks department, in addition to the weed killers, is misuse of funds, primarily general obligation bond funds.
Meier vehemently opposed the "boondoggle" Premier Fitness Court that opened at Tanner Creek Park last summer.
The council candidate also played a passive role in the recently resolved harassment complaint against Councilor Jules Walters. A decision by other councilors to appoint Meier to a citizens panel to interview city manager candidates despite what Walters called Meier's record of discriminatory remarks resulted in a loss of temper by Walters and the subsequent harassment complaint.
In justifying her anger, Walters noted a 2019 email Meier had sent to Councilor Teri Cummings focusing on an article titled "Would Jesus attend a (LGBTQ) pride parade."
In an email to the current City Council and the Tidings, Meier responded to the nature in which he came up in the harassment investigation report.
"(I) support the belief that Councilor Walters violated MY personal and Religious organizational beliefs, and this was not addressed in the findings,' Meier wrote. " Indeed the writer never took my personal religious beliefs nor my Catholic religion's belief in the teaching of the Church regarding homosexuality into account."
Meier, who has lived in West Linn since 2009, said he worked as a grant writer and with the IT department of Oregon's Department of Education.
If elected, Meier said his first priority would be to ban the use of glyphosate, the chemical found in weed killers, in all city parks.
Meier said cities like Portland and Eugene already have banned glyphosate on city properties. Parks Department Director Ken Warner said the city uses glyphosate as little as possible and was exploring other means to control invasive plant species.
Another step Meier plans to take if elected to the council is to perform a "functional analysis" of every position at City Hall. Meier said he is fiscally conservative due to a frugal upbringing and wants to help eliminate waste at the city.
He said perhaps it would be best to only open City Hall three days a week to decrease payroll expenses.
"Other candidates, they're concerned about the waterfront and the closure of the post office," he said. "Those things are important, but, to the here and now, we've got expenses that are going to be totally out of line."
Meier also said if he were city manager he would start by firing all city department heads and then hire back the ones who seemed competent. The city needs to do a better job of holding these managers accountable, he said.
Another priority for Meier is completing GO bond projects.
"The parks department has so many incomplete projects," he said.
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