Dear new Wilsonville mayor: Give us a chance to serve
Mayor Julie Fitzgerald:
I am a proud citizen of Wilsonville for over two decades. I served on boards, commissions and task forces for the city of Wilsonville for over 14 years. I have served on the Wilsonville Chamber Board for nearly a decade (although the opinions here are my own, and not that of the Chamber Board). I have done those things because I love this community.
As the incoming mayor, (Fitzgerald will be sworn in in January) I think it is important for you to understand that a segment of the community you are about to lead has grown weary of the politics in our fair town. The recent election suggests those persons are the minority, but they are significant in number nonetheless. They are fatigued because they feel that their voice is drowned out by single-issue advocates and hyper partisanship, and they fear that their voice will not be heard. I have spoken to past leaders who felt this fatigue. Indeed, I have felt it myself.
The recent commission and board appointment process provides an example of why some in Wilsonville feel this way. Twenty-two positions needed to be filled, and somewhere near fifty citizens answered the call. No doubt, some good and qualified citizens were appointed. However, some very good and qualified citizens were denied.
For instance, John Budaio ran for council in 2018 and 2020, garnering thousands of votes in those elections. He brought decades of useful experience in the military and industry, and a heart of service like few have. Imran Haider ran for council in 2020, is a hopeful young voice in our community who is a college professor, helped start a successful business, and is a first-generation child of immigrants. The knock on each of them is that they lacked experience serving on Wilsonville boards and commissions; but between them, they have now been denied that opportunity of experience after volunteering.
Kate Johnson has served for years on city boards and commissions. She asked to be appointed again, but was not. The common thread between those three persons is that they love this city, and have publicly supported candidates that are not in the current or recent past majority on council. Their story is not unique, and has been repeated several times over the past decade.
Our nation is built on the notion that majorities win elections, but systems exist to make sure the voice of the minority is not quashed. As our mayor, you are now the steward of that tradition in Wilsonville. Please do not make the mistake of believing that those who do not agree with you on policy issues do not have the best interests of Wilsonville at heart.
Indeed, I would ask you to consider that leadership seeks out different opinions and voices that challenge. I have been encouraged by your public statements of a desire to give voices to everyone in our community. As you take steps to increase diversity in our city, remember that includes diversity of opinions.
Also remember that there are citizens asking for the chance to serve, and they should not be denied for the sole reason that they do not agree with you on every policy. They stand ready to serve, and to provide their input; as do I.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.