The magic to a strong, fully-functional group of people is less in picking the right individuals but more about picking the right individuals for that group. It's like the difference between selecting an entree that has all the attributes you like or picking the right recipe ingredients to cook a great dish.
You want the flavors to be balanced, without any single ingredient overwhelming the rest and creating palette disharmony.
After watching all four of the Wilsonville City Council candidates in action, examining their records and talking with them in small group settings, we're convinced none of them would be a bad choice for the council. That said, some might bring flavors to throw off the recipe.
Let's start with a known ingredient, Charlotte Lehan. A long-time player in the local political scene, Lehan has the experience, temperament and institutional memory to function as an important base for the council and we can see no reason for her to be voted out of office.
Lehan is running in a block with David Davis, the second-most experienced candidate in Wilsonville politics, having served on local appointed commissions and been a frequent audience member of city council meetings. Davis, a single young professional who lives in one of the City's many, many apartments, would add a voice that the council currently lacks. That alone, however, doesn't seem a strong enough reason to elect him. Davis seems to be in alignment with the policy goals of Mayor Tim Knapp, whose long service and strong personality can dominate council business.
With the departure of Scott Starr, an experienced councilor known for asking the tough questions, even of Knapp, we believe maintaining a good balance on the next council is vital to creating a healthy dynamic.
A better balance to Knapp's control might be veteran John Budiao, a "working class Joe" tradesman raised by a single mother. He has a long history of volunteerism in the city and is less of an advocate for Wilsonville's pro-growth trajectory, championed by the existing council, a view that seems to reflect a good portion of Wilsonville voters who would not be represented on council if both Lehan and Davis were seated.
What about Ben West you say? West is convincing when he talks about his love of Wilsonville but his actions don't show the love of public service Budiao demonstrates. While Budiao has been busy helping local Scout troops, sports teams and schools, West has run for national office, the highest elected office in Wilsonville and organized a high-profile statewide nonprofit that benefits foster families — all notable efforts but less local and grassroots.
And while West told us he has no higher political ambitions, we're not convinced. He started his climb into politics with a high reach: running against Rep. Kurt Schrader for U.S. Congress and followed that up with an awkward write-in bid for mayor two years ago. We can easily see West leaving after one term, while Budiao seems more rooted.
Finally, it's West's penchant for drama that prompts us to endorse Budiao. West claims that Knapp reneged on a promise to appoint him to city boards after West's failed race for mayor and while we can't substantiate that, any bad blood is bound to brew dissent on the council should West be elected.
A good City Council has a good blend of flavors and each one should bring something valuable to the dish. A level head and capacity for consensus-building are two of those important ingredients and qualities we think our two recommendations,
Lehan and Budiao, have in abundance.
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