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Former Wilsonville Mayor John Ludlow responds to a recent opinion piece from Councilor Charlotte Lehan

It saddened us to see Charlotte Lehan's letter besmirching and slandering Doris Wehler because of her campaign towards elected term limits. When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.

Having known Doris for many decades, Doris is not personally opposed to Lehan or Mayor Tim Knapp but it appears that Ms. Lehan has a personal grudge against her. Yes, Doris tried to recall Lehan once, not twice, in 1999 when Ms. Lehan proposed to put a swimming pool and City Hall on Wilsonville Memorial Park property. Countless people wanted to vote on these big-ticket items and were initiating a referendum to gain signatures. Before that could get underway Ms. Lehan and two others on the Council, voted to sign a contract to the tune of over $8 million to install the necessary infrastructure in Wilsonville Memorial Park. The money was spent. The majority of those who expressed themselves wanted to vote, but their voices were not being heard. So, Doris and many others initiated a recall. Ms. Lehan survived by a margin of about 1%. The fluff piece that really saved her was The Oregonian's full page of color pictures and commentary on the Sunday before the election. Have you ever seen that kind of free advertising in the "O" for anyone else?

It was ironic to see Ms. Lehan's mention of Doris's Oak Patch development request for seven lots, only to get six approved. Did you know that the City of Wilsonville demanded that nearly half of Doris's property become a "conservation easement" benefiting the City and preventing the new lot owners form using it? Did you know that Charlotte's parents sold property to the State of Oregon for the Dammasch State Hospital development? Or that much more of the property was sold to a developer and became "The Park at Merryfield"? Surely Ms. Lehan benefited from these developments. Good for her.

We must mention Ms. Lehan's comment that Doris Wehler was "shifting" in her opinion about prison siting. Doris has never opposed ANY prison. She only remonstrated against the LOCATION of the prison. The State of Oregon originally proposed to site a prison where Villebois is today. Doris was one of the leaders of "S.A.F.E.T.Y "(Stop Any Future Escapees This Year). This group spearheaded the idea that the prison should be placed away from then current residential neighborhoods. Ms. Lehan joined the fight late in the process.

Term Limits will allow people with fresh ideas to be involved. The current council gets wind that one of their councilors will be resigning before the end of their term. That person leaves early, and an appointment occurs. Guess what? The person appointed is one who aligns with the majority of the Council that appoints them. In the entire history of this city the person who ran for office, and was the runner-up, has never been appointed. The appointed person becomes the incumbent and has a distinct advantage in the next election. Why was John Budiao, who came in next runner up in the last election, not appointed when a replacement was needed for Susie Stephens' position? Instead the nod went to someone who never before expressed an interest of being on the Council, or had ever run for that office.

Interesting to note that Lehan finds term limits to be "draconian" when cities like Tualatin, Tigard, Oregon City, Lake Oswego, Gladstone, Hillsboro, and Milwaukie have term limits – and they are thriving.

We have faith that newly elected councilors can interact with the numerous public groups that Ms. Lehan has cited. Experience counts but please don't discount desire and hard work from any newcomer to the Wilsonville City Council. Term Limits will be GOOD for the FUTURE of Wilsonville. Let's make sure that elected representatives don't become an institution unto themselves.

John Ludlow is a Wilsonville resident and a former mayor of Wilsonville


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