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Development Review Board member Katie Dunwell says she relies on data to make decisions.


Wilsonville resident Katie Dunwell — a member of the city Development Review Board Panel B — is the first person to publicly announce their candidacy for the November Wilsonville City Council election.

Two seats will be up for grabs this year and may be filled by newcomers, with Councilor Charlotte Lehan not being able to run for reelection due to term limits and Councilor Ben West vying for a Clackamas County Board of Commissioner seat. Dunwell believes her roots, business acumen and experience on the DRB leave her well suited to represent the city.

"It requires strategic acumen to be able to work in an environment like that. A lot of that (work) translates to public service and public office," she said of her career, which has included working for Amazon, investment banking and her current role as a brand manager for Vonage (a communications company). Dunwell said she already has filed her candidacy with the state and will do so with the city once the application process opens. The application period will run from June 1 to Aug. 23.

Dunwell, 60, is a member of the Oneida Indian Nation and grew up near Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. This experience informed her interest and passion for land use issues, she said. Dunwell, who identifies as politically moderate, added that she has become even more interested in the machinations of city government while serving on the review board.

"That's what really excited me about serving on the Development Review Board, because I have a real personal interest in land use and … making sure assets and natural resources are protected," she said.

Dunwell said she ran a marketing team for Amazon following a stint in investment banking. Then, after retiring for a bit, she decided to go back to work for Vonage — where she said she analyzes lots of data.

"I'm a believer in data driven-decisions. The staff and data tell you a story and tell you where the next decision needs to go and pulls the emotions out of it," she said.

Dunwell, who has lived in town since 2014, said she thinks Wilsonville currently is well run and hopes to keep the city moving in the right direction while thoughtfully planning for future growth. Maintaining a balance between single-family homes and multifamily housing also is a priority, she added.

"I think we have to be careful about making sure we're not necessarily placing families at risk that could potentially call Wilsonville home because we've priced ourselves out of the market," Dunwell said. "By the same token, I want to make sure we're not just bringing in housing that doesn't necessarily serve our community well. Any housing we bring in has to be well managed and well developed."

Other issues at top of mind for Dunwell include economic development and education.

Politically, she said she used to be a member of the Republican Party but is now not a part of either major party. The City Council race is nonpartisan and Dunwell said finding pragmatic solutions rather than politically charged ones would be her goal.

City Council members serve four-year terms. To run, an individual has to be a Wilsonville resident for at least 12 months prior to Election Day. They also must submit a petition with 20 signatures from Wilsonville registered voters. The election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.

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