Rory Bialostosky, the superior choice


Helena Erdahl

City Hall is the base of West Linn politics. The City Council is housed here, as well as the mayor’s office. They house meetings focused on city issues and changes.

As of May 16, West Linn will be ushering in a new mayor following a special election. The former mayor, Jules Walters, was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives District 37. There are two years left in her term, so this election is for the remaining time. Rory Bialostosky, a West Linn City Council member, became interim mayor earlier this year due to a 2—1 vote city council vote in Bialostosky’s favor. 

This race is centered between two opponents, Bialostosky and Bill Relyea, a former City Council member, who announced his entrance on March 16 against Bialostosky.

In my opinion, Bialostosky is the correct choice for the job. Not only is Bialostosky endorsed by the mayors of neighboring towns, such as Lake Oswego, Oregon City, Hillsboro, and Gladstone, but also by the majority of the members of City Council, including former Mayors Walters (2020—2023) and John Kovach (2010—2015). It is clear that Bialostosky is the choice other leaders support, which I believe is a solid indication that he works well with them, as well as performing City Council duties to their own standards. 

Another point that stood out in Bialostosky’s campaign is his commitment to support the Police Oversight Board. Due to past abuses of power from the department, such as the wrongful arrest of Micheal Fesser in 2017, this is an essential step for the West Linn government to take for the police department to improve in this city. This Police Oversight Board is expected to be made up of community members chosen by the City Council. They will receive training from the city and district attorney’s office to learn how to handle legal matters. Their role will be reviewing complaints against police officers, and can make recommendations regarding disciplinary action and if it should be handled by internal or external investigative sources. Bialostosky’s support in this process is another reason why I favor his campaign. 

Bialostosky is also planning on fully funding our police department, which I have conflicting opinions on. This point on his campaign statement isn’t specified, so this funding could go to parts of the police department focused on the Police Oversight Board and community services, for example. But if it is focused on funding systems that won’t improve the city as a whole, this portion of Bialostosky’s campaign isn’t supported in my opinion. 

Bialostosky is also in support of stopping the plan for a toll on the West Linn portion of I-205. This planned tolling of West Linn’s section is unfair, given that our town isn’t the only to use the highway, so why should we be the only to fund it? The location of the tolling will disproportionally impact West Linn, as the plan is targeted towards a section of the highway heavily used by West Linn residents.

This year, Bialostosky was the youngest ever mayor, elected at the age of 23. Having a leader who can be a representative of what younger voters care about is important. Generation Z representation in government can help bring out concerns that have previously been ignored by older generations. Bialostosky is the city council liaison for Youth Advisory Council(YAC), a youth group focused on serving the city and the issues faced in West Linn. Based on his involvement in this organization, he is dedicated to staying connected with the youth. 

As far as the opponent’s campaign, there’s nothing about Relyea’s mission or objectives that I outright disagree with. One of Relyea’s goals is to recruit the Legislative Analyst in Oregon, which will help support accountability for acts committed against our community. Relyea’s campaign statement touches on this topic. 

“ seek legislative support for reformation of laws that hold professionals accountable for abhorrent acts that should have been crimes committed against our community members,” Relyea’s campaign statement said. 

Relyea also addresses the issues with tolling on I-205, claiming that he pushed progress on the issues as a previous city council member. 

“I pushed the discussion of developing a coalition to stem Tolling Plans on I-205 and building a planning platform that addresses our shared interests in road and highway improvements that relieve congestion and offer alternative means of travel,” Relyea’s campaign statement said. 

Overall, Relyea’s campaign is decent because it focuses on local issues, and highlights the accomplishments that he has as a previous city councilor. My issue with it, however, is that it doesn’t have any concrete, specific plans for the near future. The campaign plans don’t have any solid action items, which in my opinion, voters need to know in order to trust a candidate in a mayoral position. While his campaign statement doesn’t outline specific positions, he does hope to “[bring] solutions to the table.”

In Bialostosky’s campaign, he has a list of action items and plans to advocate for issues that voters care about. These items are aimed at I-205 tolls, building an indoor recreation center, supporting a police oversight board, revitalizing the Highway 43 corridor, breaking ground on the Waterfront project, and many more. Within Bialostosky’s campaign statement, he brings up how his past progress will continue into the future. 

“It has been an honor to serve my hometown in various capacities on the City Council over the last two years,” Bialostosky’s statement said. “I am running for Mayor to continue to build on the progress that our City has made during that time.”