Wilsonville City Councilor Ben West announces mayoral candidacy
Wilsonville City Councilor Ben West will make a run at becoming the next mayor of Wilsonville.
The Villebois resident and nurse was elected to his current position in the 2018 election and is nearing the halfway mark of his first term. If West is elected mayor, the council will select someone to replace his open council seat. If not, he will retain his current seat, according to city officials.
"I will do my best if I'm elected to be your mayor to represent you guys with integrity, to help lead us forward in important visions for the community and what we want to do, and I will serve with humility and with a servant's heart," he said during a Facebook live video Friday. "There will be a new mayor in 2021 and I hope it's me."
During his time on the council, West has been active in the community — helping launch a fund for the victims of the fire in Villebois in 2019 and recently starting a weekly video series with Wilsonville resident Kyle Bunch as a way to highlight a business community that is struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"He strongly advocated at the beginning of the COVID outbreak for the council to take a look at what the city could do to help businesses here. I really appreciated the work he did on that," Bunch said in an interview. "He's involved at community events, high school football games, and drama, concerts. He's someone who has a presence, and I think that's important as a city leader to have that rapport and presence in the community."
West has been in lockstep with his fellow councilors on certain issues — like the city's plan to provide more affordable housing in town and to try to convince the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon state Legislature to address the bottleneck on I-5 near Wilsonville — while disagreeing with them on other issues.
Notably, he criticized the council's decision not to more strongly consider appointing Eric Postma and John Budiao for an open council seat that went to Councilor Joann Linville in 2019, suggesting that the council often rejects opposing viewpoints. He's also opposed to efforts to bring more housing density to the Portland metro area.
West said in an interview that two of his strengths are the diversity he brings as a person (West is married to a man and was a strong gay marriage advocate) and in his ideas.
"One reason I'm running is to provide strong leadership that opposes Metro (regional government) and Portland's density agenda," he said.
West also was in favor of the recent successful measure to impose term limits on current councilors, which the rest of the council was either against or skeptical about.
Due to the passage of the measure, current Mayor Tim Knapp cannot run for reelection. Former Wilsonville City Councilor Julie Fitzgerald also announced her candidacy this week.
During the Facebook video, West said the city has shown leadership during the COVID-19 crisis, referencing its donations to dozens of small businesses in town, and acknowledged how much serving the city has meant to him.
"We have had to deal with a lot, we've overcome a lot and accomplished a ton as a community," he said. "It's been an honor of a lifetime."
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