By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Keizer, meet your new mayor.
Cathy Clark, a Keizer City Councilor since 2006, ran unopposed to replace Lore Christopher as the city’s top elected official in last week’s election. Christopher is thus wrapping up her seventh and final two-year term as mayor.
Wrapping up her second full term as a councilor, Clark has extensive knowledge of issues before council and has had a front row view of how Christopher has handled her position.
In light of Clark becoming the new mayor, the Keizertimes asked her some questions regarding her new role.
Clark takes over her new position in January.
What will be your top priority as you take over as mayor?
Keizer has so many good things happening right now, with businesses growing and building, and homes being built. So my first priorities are to continue the projects and programs we have going and work with our incoming council on setting our goals for 2015.
In what ways will you differ from Lore Christopher as mayor, and in what ways will you be similar?
Lore and I are both passionate in our love for our city and our commitment to low taxes, high value and strong community involvement. Lore led the city through a period of tremendous growth and change. Now we have new businesses and jobs, more homes being built and city master plans getting done, so my job will be to make sure we keep going and engage the community as we envision our next steps in setting our priorities for the future.
Lore Christopher has been a cheerleader of the city and a vocal leader, both during meetings and elsewhere. How will your style differ from hers?
Like Lore, I love to brag on our great city whenever I get the chance.
Lore Christopher really made the job of mayor her own and formed it in her image. What do you think is the main duty of Keizer’s mayor?
As mayor, I believe my role is to lead the council so that we are a strong team, each councilor able to bring his or her best talents, passions, knowledge and experience in service to Keizer. I need to continue to be a strong voice for Keizer in our region, ensuring we are present and engaged in decision making that will impact us. And I am here to serve all the people of Keizer and to welcome, listen and lead for the benefit of the whole city.
You’ve been on council for eight years. Due to that, do you feel this will be an easy transition?
As a two-term councilor, I know how our city works and what we have going on right now. Serving as mayor is a new role for me and I am working hard to be sure I can make this transition as smooth as possible.
You’ve been big on transportation issues. Do you have other priorities in addition to that?
1. Economic development. We need space to allow our businesses to grow as well as welcome new ones. Our new Economic Development Commission is just getting started and I am looking forward to seeing what their work brings to the council. The Keizer Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development and Government Affairs committee is also working to address this issue.
2. Encouraging volunteers to serve in our committees, projects, and community – we need to engage more people, particularly our youth and young adults, in all aspects of our city.
You’ve been on several transportation committees. Will you have to find someone else to take over that role, or will you be able to continue on those committees?
For now, I will stay on the transportation committees, but I believe it is important that we have more than one councilor who can cover these committees. So, I will be appointing an alternate to start learning about transportation issues. I was an alternate for the first year which was a huge help for me since there was so much to learn.
What kind of relationships have you formed within Keizer and outside of Keizer that will be a benefit?
Through the transportation committees, I have gotten to know and work with our local, regional and state partners and have learned from their ideas and experiences. And I have shared our successes with them, particularly our ‘Keizer Way’ of strong volunteerism and collaboration to get things done.
I have also had the pleasure of volunteering throughout our community. We are a city of 37,000 that still feels like a small town because we value our relationships with each other. And I know there are so many talented, generous people right here that we can count on for just about anything we want to accomplish.
What big projects or issues do you see coming up for Keizer?
A big issue facing Keizer is our urban growth boundary. We are just about built out. The planning process we just finished made it clear – we are about out of land. Under Oregon land use law, making changes is a complex process. And the involvement of our whole community is going to be very important.
You’ve had a lot of political involvement over the years. Is this the culmination, or do you see more down the road, i.e. county commission, state seat, etc.?
I am concentrating on preparing for serving as Keizer’s mayor. Local government is where we get things done and that is very rewarding for me.
You’ve never faced an opponent on the ballot and never really had to campaign. Does that give you a skewed view of government in Keizer?
I have had the privilege of being able to focus my campaigns on connecting with people throughout Keizer. And I think that is Keizer at our best – building genuine relationships and trust, listening to people and bringing their ideas together, celebrating the great city we have going here.
Your third election in Keizer, all unopposed. The mayoral race has only been opposed once since 2002. Three of four races this year uncontested. Do those stats concern you?
Keizer made the decision from the very beginning that council service would be all volunteer. Council service comes with a significant personal and family cost of both time and money. And that keeps some people who would be excellent city councilors from running for office. Parents with young children often cannot afford the time away from family. Business owners sacrifice time from running their businesses in order to give the time to serve. The decision to serve affects the whole family and each of us has had to consider that decision very carefully. And Keizer is very lucky to have had so many dedicated volunteers over the last 32 years who have willingly sacrificed so much to serve our community.
Is there any formula for people to run for public office?
I don’t think there is a formula. Public service is as individual as each of us who has chosen to serve. But I know what is important to me – being true to who I am, open to learning and listening, so I can bring my best and be true to the people I seek to serve.