My mother raised me and my brother on her own with very little financial support. She worked full-time and had a part-time job on the side. When I turned 14, I also had to work after school. The key focus of the income we brought in was food and shelter.
The location of the shelter was key. Mom wanted to make sure her sons would go to good schools, have excellent role models, and live in safe neighborhoods. She chose a community that had all of these qualities and then fought to keep us there. Sometimes bills did not get paid.
I remember when we had our electricity turned off because we did not have money to pay the bill. We slept on floors and lived out of boxes, but my brother and I were safe, could focus on our education, and just being kids. We were law-abiding members of the community. It was challenging moving from one rental to another during that time. However, my mom managed to keep us in the community until both my brother and I were out on our own.
Today I have a family and am very fortunate to live in Wilsonville. We are blessed in owning our own home, and our son goes to a good school and is surrounded by positive role models.
In Wilsonville, we have many citizens from diverse backgrounds who quietly go about their lives trying to do what my mother did. They are facing even more challenges than she did. These parents know that keeping their children in a safe community within the same school district will help ensure that their children have the stability they need to learn and grow. These parents volunteer in their children's schools and throughout Wilsonville. They also
Charlotte Lehan's background in Child Development informs much of her approach to community leadership — from parks to sidewalks to bike paths to library services to affordable and diverse housing. She has spoken passionately at City Council meetings about the need for children to feel safe in order to be able to learn.
Charlotte's leadership is one of the primary reasons that Wilsonville's highest community satisfaction scores (97 percent) are for being a great place to raise children. David Davis is a strong, clear voice advocating for those who currently face the socio-economic challenges my mom once did.
They are committed to our community and way of life. Voting for Charlotte Lehan and David Davis is one way to ensure that this continues to be true. It is all about paying it forward.
Shawn O'Neil is a Wilsonville attorney.
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