Ben West wants to provide fresh perspective to the City, aligns with fellow challenger John Budiao

In 2016 — a year when one man without political experience attained the U.S. presidency — Ben West's ambitious foray into politics fell short.

The Wilsonville resident lost a bid to represent Oregon's fifth district in the U.S. House of Representatives and was unsuccessful in a write-in attempt to wrestle Wilsonville's mayorship from Tim Knapp. {iSPOKESMAN PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - After running for Congress and Mayor in 2016, Ben West is running for Wilsonville City Council.

Two years later, West has switched focus to the Wilsonville City Council — where he is competing against incumbent Charlotte Lehan and challengers John Budiao and David Davis for two open council spots. The election will take place Nov. 6.

"I think it's (being on City Council) one of the better ways that I can serve my community," West said. "My goal is to be of service to Wilsonville and I think I could do a good job in that capacity."

West said he was pushed by local residents to run for mayor just weeks before the election in 2016 and he is proud to have received 19 percent of the vote.

"It was a great learning experience," West said of his 2016 campaigns. "It also seems like a lifetime ago."

West is a full-time registered nurse and has been a Wilsonville resident since 2014. To garner more political experience, he tried to earn a spot on the City's Development Review Board and the Planning Commission but failed. In his view, he didn't receive an appointment due to political backlash from the mayoral campaign.

"I believe there's a group within the council that doesn't want a fresh new perspective and potentially saw a political threat and new blood," he


West, though, has kept busy — launching Oregon Foster Families First, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policy changes to bolster the state's foster care system, with his husband Paul Rummell.

Their son JayQuan Rummell-West came from the foster care system and West believes the system is inadequate.

"A lot of the stuff we focus on is to improve education, access to healthcare and safety in these kids' lives," he said.

He said his experience discussing the foster system issues with legislators would be an asset to the council.

"I've made great connections with the Secretary of State and different legislatures of sharing the goal of fixing the crisis of the foster care system," West said. "That would extend over to being to advocate for Wilsonville's needs."

West considers himself a business-friendly, fiscal conservative and believes the City needs to develop a better relationship with the business community and potentially nix regulations though he didn't specify which ones.

"The current council has an antithetical relationship with the business community," West said. "One of the big things government can do is to step out of the way. Often when we deregulate and listen to the business community and find where hindurances are and begin to plan on a larger scale you see business flourish."

West has aligned himself with Budiao and the two have similar views on density and affordable housing. Like Budiao, West is against Metro's affordable housing bond measure, which would use property tax revenue to fund affordable housing units for lower income citizens, and further densification in Wilsonville. He believes Wilsonville's population should grow outward rather than cluster. Relatedly, he supports Wilsonville's push to extend its urban growth boundary to Frog Pond East and South.

"We have to increase the supply of land and (be) thoughtful in how we do it," West said. "As we grow we need to keep focus on single family dwellings and don't overburden schools, traffic, infrastructure that can serve the population."

Instead of a large bond measure, he would like the City to use the money garnered from land sales to finance services that help vulnerable populations.

"The way to say we care about affordable housing is to create a specific program to help people get that hand up and hold on to their dignity and transition them as they get going again," West said. "There's a way to do that without a big, giant spending bill."

Also, West believes that financing facilities for sports and art programs would provide the city economic value.

"Wilsonville has a unique and amazing ability that other cities don't have. In the evening and weekends our population decreases significantly," he said. "I believe we could produce a really quality sports complex that would attract revenue and be an economic boon for the city."

West's qualms with the City further metastasized when Davis's campaign manager, Wilsonville Planning Commission member Simon Springall, posted a photo on Facebook of West giving his son a rifle for his 10th birthday with the caption "Unusual parenting technique."

In response, West castigated Lehan and "her friends" on Facebook because he said Lehan as well as Knapp are in cahoots with Springall.

However, West said if he joins them on the council, he would try to find a way to work productively with Davis, Lehan and Knapp.

Though West said seeing Springall's post was a low point in his time in Wilsonville, he feels heartened by how the community has embraced his family since they arrived a few years ago.

"I have been shocked of how Wilsonville has been an extended family and my son's success has been attributed to great community support around him," he said.

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