West Linn candidate ready to 'dig in' to council work
Though he's only lived in Oregon for two years, West Linn City Council candidate Leo Groner believes his experiences and travels have equipped him with the knowledge, perspective and skills to help lead the city.
Groner's resume varies from computer science to the Army and teaching. He worked for 31 years at IBM. In the middle of those three decades, he was drafted during the Vietnam War to serve with an Army missile unit in Korea.
Groner worked for several Silicon Valley startups after his time at IBM, but grew tired of that life and turned to teaching. He taught high school computer science and physics for three years.
Though he's never run for office, Groner said he's been involved in politics since he canvassed for former President Lyndon Johnson.
Groner called himself an activist, and said he marched with the civil rights movement and protested against the Vietnam and Iraq wars.
He feels his varied background lends itself to council tasks. At IBM, he said he was not only an engineer and problem-solver, but a manager helping 20,000 people collaborate to build computers. Groner also noted he has a Master of Business Administration degree and experience managing budgets.
Groner's time spent in places like Korea, California, Pennsylvania and New York's Hudson Valley, he felt, could be helpful as well.
"There's a lot of things right with West Linn," Grocer said. "It's a beautiful city and I'm happy to live here. But we do have some problems."
The first problem he mentioned was traffic, noting certain parts of town can become very backed up at rush hour. He said he'd like to see more traffic circles and options for public transportation.
"I'd have to walk two miles down a fairly steep hill to catch a bus if I wanted to use public transportation," he said.
Groner also mentioned tolling on I-205, and, though toll plans are moving forward, he said there are ways ODOT could help mitigate costs. Since the tolls will run with an electronic sensor, he suggested toll fees be higher during peak traffic, and that there could be discounted rates for seniors or low-income people. He also hoped that people crossing the tolls multiple times would only be charged once per day.
"These are things I think can be shaped to be a little less onerous," he said.
Groner said it's also important that the city do whatever it can to reduce its carbon footprint, and ensure kids have sidewalks on which to walk to school.
While he doesn't feel West Linn has a homelessness issue, Groner said it's important that homeless people are treated with respect. He said the city's hiring of a behavioral health specialist was a step in the right direction, but he wants to ensure no homeless encampments are bulldozed.
Lastly, Groner mentioned a desire to foster more unity within the community. He wants to see the community come together so people aren't so suspicious of one another. He said events like Music in the Park are great for this.
Ultimately, Groner wants to preserve West Linn's positive qualities and address areas of improvement.
"I promise to work hard, to investigate and, if I'm not an expert now, I will dig in and try to become an expert," he said.
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