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West Linn City Council hopeful Ken Pryor makes community engagement a priority.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Ken Pryor, a candidate for West Linn City Council, wants the city to have a better understanding of the community's needs and desires. Just a few months ago, Ken Pryor had no idea that he would be running for a seat on West Linn's City Council.

Because his family is somewhat private, his wife especially wasn't keen on the idea at the beginning, Pryor said.

But, he said, if you have ideas for what the community should look like, you have to be engaged.

Since moving to West Linn in 2005, Pryor has had his share of involvement with the city. He served as vice president of the Savanna Oaks Neighborhood Association for 11 years, was a member of the West Linn Committee for Citizen Involvement and even made a run for council in 2006.

Having grown up in Detroit and lived in San Jose, Pryor learned long ago the importance of becoming involved with his community.

Pryor wants to see more people engaged in West Linn, but before that can happen, the city needs to make it easier for them, he said.

To move the city in a direction that represents all viewpoints, the city needs to improve its communication with different segments of the community, Pryor said.

He suggested a community study.

"I can't remember when there was the last community-wide study of what people felt about West Linn," he said. "You can't make the assumption that you know until you've asked people."

This community input will be important as the city makes development decisions and rethinks the working of the police department, he said.

Pryor has a few ideas of his own for improving the West Linn Police Department, but said he's not interested in defunding WLPD or contracting out to Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.

Training, transparency and body cameras will be keys for the police department, Pryor said.

He also mentioned that officers are often dealing with people in mental health crises, though most don't have the training or education for such interactions.

"I think in the future, there are going to be federal programs to assist mental health issues, and you can offload some of that responsibility," Pryor said.

Pryor also mentioned the importance of the new Police Accountability Task Force, though he said he is wary of officers' involvement in the group.

Acting WLPD Chief Peter Mahuna and police union vice president Adam Peterson attend task force meetings as liaisons.

Having these officers present at meetings however, might make some members reticent to speak frankly for fear of retribution, Pryor noted.

In terms of building and development in West Linn, Pryor said he'd like the city to be more assertive with its position.

Maintaining the city's greenspaces is critical to preserving livability in West Linn, Pryor said.

Where development is necessary, Pryor suggested public-private partnerships so that the city could have more control over development projects.

Another priority for Pryor is making West Linn a welcoming community for all. Teaching respect and inclusion should begin from a young age, Pryor said.

He suggested programs with the city library and local TV channels to showcase the region's diversity.

As a city councilor, Pryor said he wants to implement his background in mediation. As a former international salesman, Pryor noted his experience in uniting people with different backgrounds, perspectives and objectives.

He called his strategy for this work ACES: acknowledge, clarify, empathize, summarize.

"And from that, you should be able to form some sort of relationship or know that you want to be in a relationship," Pryor said.


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