Keizer leaders share their goals for 2022

Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark (left), councilor Elizabeth Smith and councilor Shaney Starr at a Dec. 20 Keizer City Council meeting. (KEIZERTIMES/Joey Cappelletti)

Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark

“Events of 2021 continued to test us as a community. From ice storms and wind storms to turbulence within our city, the council and staff, we have figured out how to navigate through together and land on our feet. 

What we have as a community is worth the hard work to take care of. Who we have as our neighbors in our community are worth the time and effort to care about in an increasingly loving, meaningful and respectful way.

There is nothing magical about a ‘new year’, but there is something very special about recommitting ourselves to attitudes of grace, gratitude, and grit. 

My prayer for Keizer is that there may be peace on earth, a peace that abides and grows within the hearts, minds and spirits of each of us.”

Keizer City Councilor Roland Herrera

“I am optimistic about 2022. The past year has renewed my faith that good things can come at what seem like the worst of times. So as another pandemic year nears its end, I am looking forward to 2022.

I’m hopeful that this great little city will continue to be what it already is: A fun place to raise a family.  A place where folks care and help each other.

In general, my hope is that we treat one another with kindness, compassion and empathy. No matter who you are, where you come from or how you identify.  

My hopes for the coming year: 

I want Keizer to be known as the most welcoming city in Oregon.  

For my family, continued love and support

For my friends, health and happiness

For my country, peace and democracy

For me, like David Bowie said, ‘I don’t know where I’m going, but I promise you it won’t be boring.'”

Keizer City Councilor Elizabeth Smith

“As we come to the end of 2021, I am grateful for the lessons I have learned this year. Both professionally and personally. When I took office in 2019, I had no idea what the next few years would bring.

I have joked with my husband that in 2022, I hope the City of Keizer doesn’t make the news. If we do, I hope it is for all the right things. I hope that the lessons we have learned, as a community and individuals, lead to a renewed desire for respect, honor, kindness, and patience.

I hope for the citizens of Keizer to make a commitment to being a good neighbor. Not everyone sees the world the same way, and that is OK. We can influence change by being kind and compassionate much more quickly than demanding our way. We should be working to engage as many citizens with their community as possible, from every walk of life, to celebrate and experience the many diverse backgrounds and histories that we all have.  I have been lucky to sit down with people from different viewpoints in the last several months, and really see what their concerns have been.

I hope that in 2022 I can continue to have those opportunities and build bridges of communication for the good of all. People will never see things the same way, but if we can just focus on being kind as a person, a community, a State, and a Country, I believe we can start to overcome the division of the last two years. It is past time to recommit to that.”

Keizer City Councilor Laura Reid

“What we need most in 2022 is a whole lot more peace on earth, goodwill towards men (and all other genders). 

As a city councilor, my biggest goal is to get the Community Diversity Engagement Committee up and running so we can hear more voices as we consider policy and identify the places we can improve. We have some excellent people in place to start that work, and I’m excited to be a part of it. 

Another goal I have as a councilor is to hire the best city manager we can. We have such an excellent staff, and it is critical that we have a leader in place that will continue to coordinate our efforts to provide the best possible services for the people of Keizer. Also, we need to make the most of Keizer’s 40th birthday. I want to work with our community partners to make this a special milestone. 

In general, our society is sadly lacking in civil discourse. As a teacher, I have always tried to teach critical thinking, but there are some subjects that just can’t be brought up in a public setting, and that limits understanding severely. I have always valued unity, but I have also come to understand that unity is only a positive value if we are reaching consensus, rather than merely having the dominant voice prevail; lack of diversity is not unity. 

My hope for Keizer is that we can see and respect each other as neighbors and that we will value people and our humanity more than anything else. Yes, we must stand up for what is right, but we also need to help each other understand our perspectives on what is right. 

I love Keizer, and it’s so exciting to see what we can accomplish together.” 

McNary Principal Erik Jespersen

“My hope for McNary is to have a special place for every student to connect with one of our clubs, sports, or McNary/Keizer community activities.  This isn’t a new wish for our students as we’ve been preaching this initiative for several years now, but for 2022, it is a major point of re-emphasis.  This coming year we all need to work hard at coming together, seeking common ground, and focusing our energies on building positive connections that are fun and constructive.  It’s both amazing and inspiring what McNary and the City of Keizer can accomplish when we put our minds and spirit together.”

Keizer City Councilor Shaney Starr

“I am hopeful that as a community we can set aside the divisive dialogue. I am hopeful that we can begin to engage again in civil discussion and not hide behind the veil of social media. It is great to have our individual opinions, but when we don’t agree with someone we need to set aside the name calling and insults. What happened to seeking to understand by asking questions? What happened to asking how we get to yes? What happened to compromise? We still don’t have to agree, but at least we will have made an earnest attempt at understanding each other and finding a win-win for the community as a whole.

Professionally, my goal is to lead our CASA organization through a successful reaccreditation process early in 2022 and grow our volunteer base for both CASA and Safe Families for Children, as well as grow the number of our Foster Parent Night Out sites. All of these together will help us serve more children and families in a holistic manner. Personally, I need to eat more veggies and walk more.”

Keizer City Councilor Dan Kohler

“At this time of year, it is customary to look ahead and consider what we would like to accomplish this next year. I have been asked to do so as a member of the Keizer City Council, so, here goes.

Of course, there are the well-known items that could use attention: parks, public safety for all, homelessness, and our water system will always rank high on the list of matter that need our vigilance and attention. If I were to look out a number of years and identify the one thing I would wish for, it would be an orderly expansion of our Urban Growth Boundary. Why? Well, people will continue to move here for all the reasons we like being here, we don’t need to elaborate on them, let’s just say there is a character and feeling and attitude in our community that says we are proud and happy to live here. We know that people will come and as of now we have very little land left to accommodate them. Land for homes and stores and perhaps even manufacturing-like businesses so we can have a jobs base for us all.

If we fail to accommodate them, there will be repercussions. Home prices will rise (not a good thing if we want our kids to be able to stay here) and eventually state land use regulators will insist we do something; and that something could change the very character of the city we love by trying to jam more people into the present boundary.

We can’t ignore the issue and pretend it won’t create bad choices later. I’m reminded of the answer to a question I asked one of Keizer’s first city councilors, Phil Bay. I asked what he regretted not doing? He said he regretted not getting the third bridge built. I don’t want to look back and know I could have done something to help insure a better future of Keizer.

So, my wish for 2022 is that we apply our full attention and put into action a plan to expand our Urban Growth Boundary to get ready for the population growth we know will come. 

My biggest goal is for everyone to know and feel someone loves you.”