By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
New Mayor Cathy Clark and members of the Keizer City Council will be setting goals early in the new year.
A preview of the process was given during the Nov. 20 Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association (GGNA) meeting.
“What an honor,” Clark said of being the next mayor. “It’s such an opportunity to work with a team of neighbors who are willing to put in the time it takes to help our community. Now we have a chance to take a deeper look at where we’ll be the next 10 to 20 years. We can engage in a meaningful process of what community development will look like, for ourselves and, even more, for the generations behind us.”
Councilors-elect Roland Herrera (currently a GGNA board member) and Amy Ripp also shared their visions for the future.
“I’ve always felt there’s an untapped pool of volunteers,” said Herrera, who formerly worked for the city for 19 years. “It’s always the same people. I was told I could be the one to bring in the young people. There’s a group of people that’s never been engaged. I want to get the young people engaged in city government.”
Ripp, who grew up in Keizer and returned in 1997 to raise her sons here, noted she owns two small businesses.
“I felt small businesses need a voice at the city,” she said. “Maybe I could be that voice and that connection. There’s a lot of really great things happening in Keizer. I’m excited to work with such an experienced council.”
John Morgan, Keizer’s first director of Community Development who helped lead the discussion, asked what projects or programs each would like to be on the council list of goals.
Clark noted she will be having outgoing and incoming councilors meet to talk about what’s been accomplished and what should be accomplished in the future. She also tipped her cap to one of Herrera’s goals.
“Roland hit a big one with the volunteer base and how to better engage the youth,” Clark said. “We have a youth liaison on council and one on Parks Board. That’s great, but I want more. I want more feedback from them. Tigard-Tualatin has an amazing council program with middle schoolers and high schoolers. Those students are doing meaningful work.”
Clark also noted she’s chair of the new Keizer Economic Development Commission.
“When money becomes available, how do we invest it?” she asked rhetorically. “I want a really solid base so I can go to you and say this is how we decided to spend the money and this is why.”
Ripp wants to see more connection between the council and the community.
“There has been a gap in communication from the city to the community level,” Ripp said. “I’d like to see a different direction, where we can have town hall meetings to see what people think and want. People have great ideas, but they’re not sharing them. That will be one of our keys. We have to be able to bring everyone to the table and bring opinions out.”
Ripp also wants to see more training for police officers and fire district crews.
“We have in Keizer, as we grow, the need for more mental help and domestic violence help,” she said. “I want to continue to see resources for those needs in law enforcement. We have to support that as a community.”
Herrera noted he joined the Parks Board for a particular reason.
“I come from a public works background,” Herrera said. “I saw a lot of well-intentioned ideas, but we were not using input from the people who know and use the parks. Every park has the park nerd; for my park, I’m that guy. I wondered why the Parks Board doesn’t have a partnership like that. I couldn’t even get the city to let me mow the park for free. They made it almost impossible to be involved.”
Herrera also wants to see the Latino population in Keizer tapped into.
“Twenty percent of our community is being unused,” he said. “I want to tap into that part of the community. I want Keizer to be inclusive. I hate it when people badmouth our city. What can we do to connect them? I want to pull them in to engage them. I’ve been talking about the engaging thing for years. Social media is what the young people use, but at the city we don’t use it right. Social media should be used to engage more people. I want to reach out to segments that don’t feel included.”
The new councilors will be sworn in during the Jan. 5 council meeting. Brandon Smith, the former councilor who was supposed to be at the GGNA meeting, is rejoining the council.
Mayor Lore Christopher and councilors Joe Egli and Jim Taylor will be stepping down from council.