Former Wilsonville Mayor, Clackamas County Commissioner to run for Wilsonville Council

Photo Credit: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Former Wilsonville Mayor Charlotte Lehan, shown here in her role as president of the Pleasant View pioneer cemetery, announced Aug. 1 she will run for a Wilsonville City Council seat in November.A familiar face is set to appear on the November ballot in the race for a pair of seats on the Wilsonville City Council.

Former Wilsonville Mayor and Clackamas County Commissioner Charlotte Lehan announced Friday she has filed the necessary paperwork with the city of Wilsonville to run for one of the two council seats that will be contested in the November general election.

“It’s a wild rumor,” Lehan laughed Friday when contacted by the Spokesman to ask about her intention to run. “And fortunately – or unfortunately – it is true.”

Lehan served three terms as Wilsonville Mayor from 1996 through 2008. Prior to that she served six years on the city council. In 2008 she was elected to the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, where she served a single term before losing her 2012 bid for commission chair to fellow former Wilsonville Mayor John Ludlow.

Two Wilsonville council seats will be contested this fall. One is the seat vacated by outgoing councilor Richard Goddard, who said last spring he will not seek re-election. The other belongs to current council president Scott Starr, who announced this week he intends to run for re-election to complete what he views as unfinished business.

Since Lehan's ouster from the county commission almost two years ago, the lifelong Wilsonville resident has stayed busy as a private citizen and as president of the Pleasant View pioneer cemetery just outside Wilsonville. In the end, however, what Lehan calls her “first love” would not stop calling.

“I always enjoyed city government,” she said. “Municipal government is better than county government or the various roles I’ve played at Metro. It’s just closer to your constituents and you’re more apt to actually get things done as opposed to jawing about things.”

With three terms as mayor under her belt, she knows full well the additional demands on time and resources that position requires. And she wants no part of it. For her, a stint as a “normal” councilor would be just fine.

“I have made it clear that the mayor thing is not in my future,” she said. “I’ve done that, and the mayor thing, I speak from experience and think Tim (Knapp, current Wilsonville Mayor) would confirm this, it takes a lot of time, but the council is more manageable.”

Lehan also said she that if she is elected she would be excited to start working on projects and topics she had at least a hand in during their initial stages. That includes the ongoing development at Villebois, the planning for which got underway when Lehan was mayor, as well as future development in the Basalt Creek, Coffee Creek and Frog Pond areas of the city.

In addition, she noted the city’s takeover of the former Wilsonville Visitor Information Center as its new parks and recreation department headquarters as another positive for a city that has notably expanded its parks holdings in recent years. And along the same lines, she would also be excited, if elected, to continue to work toward a new aquatic and community center for a community that may have finally reached the demographic tipping point needed to support such a facility.

“We always knew it was just a matter of time,” said Lehan, who worked on several earlier city aquatic center feasibility studies. “And it certainly could be that now is the time that Wilsonville has reached the size and development level where this is the window of time when it could work, should work, and we should proceed with it.”

In Villebois, especially, Lehan said, she would like to ensure that the project is completed as envisioned and that aesthetic and other standards continue to be applied.

“We don’t want to lose sight of it toward the end of the buildout,” she said. “And there’s always that chance when you go into something that has a 10-15 year time horizon on it.”

With a flourishing economy and significant development on tap for Wilsonville, it’s a time for positive outlooks, she said.

“I’m also excited about the launch of development in Basalt Creek, and Frog Pond and Advance (Road),” she said. “These are things I had a beginning role in and would like to help shepherd those along as well. I think, generally, Wilsonville as it develops is really looking fabulous compared to a lot of other cities, especially other fast growing cities. I think Wilsonville is growing into itself and maturing well, and I want to be sure that we keep moving in that direction; I think it’s exciting times.”

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