By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The election counts are finally complete and McNary High School teacher Laura Reid will be Keizer’s next city councilor.
According to the final cumulative totals, Reid edged out Allen Barker by 109 votes, 50.44 percent to 49.56 percent. Nearly 12,400 votes were cast for the two candidates in the only contested city council race.
“I’m thrilled that I’m able to get to know Keizer from this perspective. I’ve lived in Keizer for 15 years and gotten involved in other ways, but this is entirely new,” said Reid. “I really appreciate the votes of confidence.”
Early results had shown Barker holding a thin lead over Reid, which led to Keizertimes erroneously calling the race for him, but Reid took control of the race as more votes were counted in the days after the election.
Reid, a language arts teacher at McNary, will be sworn into office in January. She replaces Councilor Mark Callier, who was appointed to Position 1 on the city council earlier this year after Councilor Dennis Koho resigned due to health considerations.
In preparation for the job, and even when she was still just a candidate, Reid began attending the council’s regular meetings and discovered that the meetings were just the “tip of the iceberg.”
“There’s a lot of work done behind-the-scenes that goes into every council decision,” she said.
One of the more eye-opening discussions revolved around the rezoning of the “cow pasture” property along Verda Lane North. She was surprised to see councilors approve the rezoning despite being unhappy with the decision.
“They were respecting their quasi-judicial role, which I didn’t understand before,” Reid said. “They did what was right, even though it wasn’t necessarily what they wanted. That was really enlightening as far as the process.”
A recent discussion about a proposed bridge across the Willamette River was also eye-popping. Councilors were given a 500-page briefing on all the work that led up to expanding the urban growth boundary.
“Matt Lawyer gave me a crash course in land use actions and everything that goes into them,” Reid said. “A lot went into that discussion, and it’s one of the reasons the discussions have gone on for 40 years.”
As she prepares to take on a role in city government, Reid said the parks and police funding are the two topics at the forefront of her mind. As a candidate, Reid said she might give preference to parks over police, but she’s learned more during her process of discovery.
“I learned just how much the police department is doing and with how little. I see the need more clearly now,” Reid said.
Currently, Keizer’s general fund, which pays for parks and police, is strapped and the city council is discussing the options for attaching a fee to utility bills to maintain and enhance services. The city cannot increase property taxes due to ballot measures passed in the mid-1990s.
She said those measures, which sounded good at the time, have a heavy impact on what the city can do now.
“We didn’t understand the long-term ramifications when we voted for that,” Reid said. “It makes the public education piece for getting a fee approved that much more important.”
Given her role in educating the future voters of Keizer, Reid is also getting a new perspective on her old job’s importance.
“It starts here at the school, and students understanding the difference they can make,” she said. “There’s a big push at McNary to get every student involved with a club or activity and we can turn those efforts toward the community itself.”