Lore Christopher, Keizer’s longest serving mayor, has announced this week she is running for her former office.
In her announcement Christopher (see the video at keizertimes.com) said she was running for mayor again because she sees a lot of opportunities “both behind us and in front of us” and feels she is in a unique position to be able to address those and “move Keizer forward.”
She cited COVID’s effect. “I think that it’s made even tougher by the current situation on city council where you’ve got a split council,” Christopher said. She continued that that divide is becoming more clear and more complicated.
“We did great things in the 14 years I was mayor,” she said, She listed the development of Keizer Station, the construction of Keizer Civic Center and the completion of Keizer Rapids Park.
“Granted, the last four years have been very, very difficult for everyone,” Christopher conceded.
The former mayor said those years are behind us and it’s time to start thinking about “What now?” She mentioned the little pieces of vacant land in Keizer, asking what should be done with those parcels.
“Business has to be there in order for people to meet people’s needs that live in the community,” said the pro-business candidate.
Asked what she saw not going right in Keizer, Christopher readily answered the proposed City of Keizer Strategic Plan. “I don’t think it’s the right direction,” she said. “It’s not ready for prime time.” She added that the final draft of the Strategic Plan was sent out for community input.
“It has 23 pages of forward until you get to the 60-month, six page part of the plan,” she exclaimed, saying it was not hard to understand why people were not responding with comments.
Christopher pointed to the city’s founders as inspiration and lamented that Keizer’s founding mission statement has been eliminated. “The prior mission statement was “keep city government costs and services to a minimum by providing city services to the community in a coordinated, efficient and least cost fashion,” so that’s completely gone. There’s been no conversation, we eliminated our mission statement that the city was founded on,” Christopher said.
Christopher wants to prioritize community safety and a more prosperous Keizer. She feels some residents are wary of the impact of living next door to Salem with homeless populations but also increased crime. Christopher wants to hear from Keizer’s police chief about what the department needs
As for making a prosperous Keizer, the steps Christopher would foster is addressing the bare land that is available. She mentioned the Keizer Transit Center was meant to be a spur for development in the unused parcels at Keizer Station. “Let’s figure out what a good companion to that transit center is and let’s see if we can find somebody in business to partner with to make that a viable entity,” she said.
Regarding sizable parcels of land one thing Christopher doesn’t want to see is another hundred apartments going up. “I think we have done our fair share of creative, affordable housing for folks with all the current apartment complexes that have gone up,” she said.
Christopher said the city needs to work with owners of vacant properties and with SEDCOR (Strategic Economic Development Corporation).
“I believe that we’re ready to move forward now. Let’s try to figure out how we bring to Keizer things that are missing to enhance the quality of life for everyone,” she added.
Asked what Keizer was missing, Christopher said the city needs additional local businesses and local jobs. One of her proudest accomplishments is Keizer Station. “It took seven years to do. You just had to keep working the issue and working with property owners and it came to fruition; we’ve got over 4,000 people working out there. It provides local jobs for local people and that’s better than having local people having to go elsewhere to find jobs.”
As for preparing Keizer’s bare lands, Christopher wants the Strategic Plan to address those, asking what the best use is of those pieces of land, whether they are zoned correctly.
“What could we bring (to Keizer) to enhance life for our current residents?” asked Christopher.
The mayoral candidate is not impressed with the City of Keizer Strategic Plan. She thinks the 55 steps over six goals in the plan can be reduced to 25 steps and be stronger and more sustainable. For Christopher, future planning needs to include comprehensive plans with costs associated with each step.
The proposed right-of-way rights for utilities could garner up to $800,000. Christopher thinks that revenue could help eliminate the city’s parks fee that is added to the city’s services bill.
The parks fee, she says, achieved its goal for deferred maintenance, which is now complete, and it’s time to end the fee.
For her there is no difference between a fee and a tax and she says the voters should approve any new tax rather than it be enacted by the seven members of the city council.
Christopher is all about process. She wants there to be plans for the goals the city seeks—how will a goal be achieved? Who will be responsible to achieve the goal? How will the goal be financed?
If elected, Christopher would bring 14 years of experience to the mayor’s chair. She will campaign on her accomplishments and her visions for the future with a laser focus.
“I think a mayor has to be singularly focused on the city and doing things that will move that city forward.”
After her previous term ended in 2015 Christopher became president of the Keizer Arts Association, a post she currently holds. She is married to Ron Christopher, has three children, Alexis, Charlie and Evan and three grandchildren, Eliot, Paisley and Callan.
Contact Publisher Lyndon Zaitz:
[email protected] or 503-390-1051
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