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Information and resources for families in Gladstone, Oregon and surrounding areas
  • Writer's pictureCierra Cook

Finding information about small city local races is hard. Unlike big city races, there isn’t a lot of media covering what’s happening in Gladstone, and it can be hard to learn about candidates beyond what you read in the voters guide.

I’m not going to pretend I don’t have an opinion—of course I do. Anyone who has been watching the progress of Gladstone’s government over the past few years is likely to have a strong opinion. I’m also not looking to change anyone’s mind. My hope is to provide information about our local candidates and share my thought process and priorities for this election.


Gladstone Mayor:


Michael Milch- the best choice for Gladstone Mayor

I’m voting for Michael Milch for Mayor. Michael has spent years volunteering his time and expertise in Gladstone. He has served on the Downtown Revitalization Advisory Committee, Library Advisory Board, Planning Commission, Gladstone School District Budget Committee, the City of Gladstone Budget Committee, and served on the City Council. In addition to a strong knowledge of the inner-workings of city government, Michael has the advantage of years of experience in Gladstone government that will allow him to hit the ground running when he’s elected.


In addition to his governmental experience, Michael has served as a Board Member of the Clackamas Bookshelf since 2019, working to increase literacy and access to books for all children in Clackamas County.


The most compelling reason to vote for Michael, however, isn’t his resume. It’s his leadership. I’ve had the good fortune of knowing Michael Milch as a neighbor and as a fellow member of the City’s Budget Committee, so I’ve seen his work firsthand. Michael is one of those rare leaders who is more interested in uplifting the people around him than advancing himself. Michael actively listens, instead of being the first to speak. He is a consensus builder who has strong relationships with Gladstone leaders of all political affiliations. Before Michael announced his candidacy, most people running in this election had an extremely high opinion of Michael as a neighbor and volunteer, someone who put his head down and got the work done. Someone who cared deeply for our city.


The current tone at City Hall is toxic. There is deep division, a lack of trust, and the business of the city is being pushed to the side as the current mayor and some city councilors allow personal issues to divide them. In this environment, I can’t imagine a leader more capable than Michael to change the tone at City Hall and get back to the people’s business.



Also running- Tammy Stempel

The past several years have Gladstone mired in controversy, with our current mayor at the center of the drama. Mayor Stempel is either unable or unwilling to do the work required of her, and instead focuses on personal attacks and petty behavior that hurts the reputation of the city.


To restore the integrity and professionalism of city government in Gladstone, I do not recommend a vote for Mayor Stempel.



Gladstone City Council

Gladstone’s system of government assigns numbers to each council seat, and candidates run for specific seats. This means that in this election, voters must choose one out of the two candidates running for each seat, even though the seat numbers are arbitrary.


City Council, Position 1:

Vanessa Huckaby- the best choice for City Council, Position 1


Vanessa has been an active member of our community for years, planting deep roots in the community through her volunteer work with the Oregon Food Bank, March of Dimes, Outside In, Growing Gardens, Love One, Gladstone Youth Football Board, and the Gladstone Clothes Closet—while being extremely active in her two kid’s schooling and extracurricular activities.


During Vanessa’s career administering large companies, she’s built the skills to work with strong personalities and bring diverse groups of people together for a common goal. Her measured, diplomatic style is desperately needed to lower the temperature in City Hall.

Vanessa’s campaign has prioritized supporting local small businesses and engaging in proactive planning for the impacts of potential tolling on I-205. There are very serious issues facing our community, and we need a serious, measured leader who can bring people together to face them.


Also running: Mindy Garlington

I was surprised to see Mindy Garlington running again for City Council against Vanessa Huckaby because her current term doesn’t expire until 2024. Why run for an office you already hold?


This unique strategy would have a unique outcome. If Garlington is elected, voters will lose their ability to have any say in who replaces her on the City Council. Instead of voters electing our newest city councilor, the council themselves will appoint someone to her old position.


Here’s how that could happen: If Garlington is elected again, she would vacate Council Position #6 when she is sworn to Council Position #1. The City Council would then have to initiate a process to appoint someone into that now vacant position #6 for the remainder of Garlington’s last term. They could even appoint someone who lost the election before or in November, potentially overriding the will of the voters.


Gladstone’s unique provision in our municipal code was intended to allow candidates to run for advancement, such as a current City Councilor running for Mayor, but in this case it would allow a sitting Councilor to block someone and potentially appoint someone else. I'm unaware of anyone using this loophole to run for the same office before their term is over.

If Garlington doesn’t win, she keeps her seat on City Council in position #6, and serves through the end of her term in 2024 so there’s no harm to her if she loses. And the voters lose if she wins.


Democracy is based on the idea that we’re qualified to choose our leaders. If Garlington is elected in November, we will see our democratic process discarded. Instead of allowing the 12,000 citizens who live in Gladstone to choose their next leader, our vote will be circumvented by 6 people, many of them long term politicians, choosing who sits beside them to lead our city.


While there are parts of Garlington’s platform that I admire, I cannot endorse her campaign with a serious candidate in the race like Vanessa Huckaby.



City Council, Position #3:

Veronica Reichle- the best choice for City Council, Position #3


Veronica is a strong advocate for our Library and Parks, and I can’t think of anyone more qualified to help make our long awaited library a reality.


In 2016, Veronica was a Co-Chief Petitioner for Ballot Measures that amended our City Charter to require voter approval in order to sell city park land. Veronica spent countless hours knocking on doors, working to ensure that Gladstonians have a voice in the future of our city. The measure passed with more than 80% of voters supporting the safeguard. Veronica understands the needs of the city and is willing to do the hard work to get it done. Many of us choose to live in Gladstone because we love having easy access to local parks and Veronica is an active advocate for maintaining this important part of Gladstone’s character.


As a working parent, Veronica understands the needs of the community. Her campaign has focused on supporting the issues that keep our community vibrant. If you care about supporting infrastructure improvements, downtown revitalization, and making our new library a reality, you’ll find Veronica a strong candidate.



Also running- Neil Reisner

I’m concerned about Reisner’s candidacy in this election. A deeply divisive figure, Reisner is most well known for his hostility to city efforts towards diversity and inclusion. At a City Council Meeting in November 2020, Reisner laughed when Council President Tracy said that racism against Gladstone citizens was wrong. "I am not sure if it's wrong, but OK," said Reisner.


Reisner was the only “NO” vote for Resolution 1184, “Condemning Violence and Racism Directed at Black, African Americans, and all People of Color, and Affirming the City of Gladstone’s Commitment to Equity”.


I just don’t believe Reisner’s views reflect the values of the people of Gladstone.



City Council, Position #5:


Luke Roberts- the best choice for City Council, Position #5


Luke is a unique candidate, and an exciting choice for Gladstone. If you speak with Luke you will be immediately impressed by his demeanor and intelligence. He is a bright-young star in our local politics and I cannot wait to see the change his election will bring to our city and community.


Right out of High School, Luke applied to fill a vacancy on the School Board—a governing body he steadfastly participated in as an elected student leader. Though he wasn’t chosen, he impressed Board members with his poise and preparation during the selection interview, where he also announced his candidacy for City Council.


Our city—the Nation—has a youth-vote problem, and the way I see it, the best remedy is to elect younger leaders who want to participate. This strategy will deepen our institutional knowledge and create a vibrancy we’ve never seen. Luke has my endorsement for his eagerness, his intelligence and capabilities, and to hopefully activate our youth in Gladstone politics. If we want a city that survives, we need to listen to our younger neighbors and allow them a seat at the table.


Also running- Bill Osburn

This perennial candidate has lost six previous elections, three for city council, once for school board, and two for county commission. Gladstone voters continue to reject Osburn’s toxic candidacy throughout these multiple campaigns, while he seems to keep trying, hoping to catch us unprepared.


Osburn continues to ramp up his extremist, fringe theories with each new election. He now supports far-right fringe ideals, while dragging the discourse in Gladstone into the mud. I cannot in good conscience endorse Bill Osburn for City leadership. If he was truly interested in change and growth, Osburn should lose the fringe theories and focus on volunteering. Actions speak louder than the ad nauseum we’ve already heard from Bill.



What about that flyer that was sent to some homes in Gladstone?


Just as our neighbors and community received their ballots, many also received a black & white anonymous mailer that attacked several Gladstone mayoral and council candidates, while promoting a slate of establishment candidates. In addition to being largely based in lies and fantasies, the mailer broke several campaign finance laws, continuing the history of dirty politics in Gladstone. Later, Bill Osburn shared a color version of the flyer that was sent, unknowingly signaling he at the least has a copy of the original.


The information in the flyer are lies, and this tactic only continues to divide our city and preoccupy us from the real issues in Gladstone. Again, I value action in the community over everything else, and the candidates who were favored should disavow the flyer while spending their time making our city that much better. That flyer cements my belief that we need a change in Gladstone politics.


Conculsion

There’s a common theme present in the candidates that I’ve endorsed this election cycle—they’re running clean, ethical campaigns based on their experience and vision for Gladstone. I’m proud to support them, and I don’t feel the need to promote them anonymously or via illegally funded mailers.


I wrote this guide in the hopes of providing information to our neighbors about the candidates that I’m supporting and why. I don’t expect to change any minds, but do want to make sure you have the information to make an informed choice.


Other resources:


Vote411.org is a non-partisan organization that supplies information provided by candidates to supplement the Voter’s Pamphlet.

Olcv.org is the Oregon League of Conservation Voters and their website provides information about local and statewide races.


About this post:

This is a blog, which means that this is my own personal opinion. I've done my best to link to relevant sources when I think folks may have more interest about a topic. If you have any questions please shoot me an email at cierra@happyrockfamilies.com

Creating an inclusive, vibrant community doesn’t happen on its own. It’s the result of many people working together and with intention. Here’s what you can do to help build a Gladstone that is strong, inclusive, and can weather any storm:



1) Speak up! Be vocal about what you want to see in your community in conversations with your friends and neighbors. If you own a business or volunteer for an organization, consider making a statement supporting diversity and inclusion in Gladstone. Ask your faith leaders what your religious community is doing to support inclusion in Gladstone.


2) Directly support those affected! Support local businesses who have been targeted by hate groups. Check in with your neighbors and make sure they’re ok. Even if someone hasn’t been directly targeted by a hate group, an attack on one member of the community is an attack on us all. Check in on your Black, Indigenous, POC, Jewish, and queer neighbors. Make sure they know you support them and have their back. Ask about what you can do to work towards a safer Gladstone for everyone. Listen to their answers and take action.


3) Support candidates who are working towards a more inclusive Gladstone! Follow them on social media, talk about them with your neighbors, donate to their campaigns. Volunteer your time and money to helping them get elected.


4) Volunteer! The antidote to fear and hate is connection and community. Find a local organization and volunteer your time. The more meaningful connections we have with each other, the more responsive and healthier our community becomes. The Gladstone Kids Closet, The Living Room, Gladstone Food Bank, Rotary Club, your kids’ schools, and City of Gladstone Boards and Committees are all excellent options.


5) Build community! Talk to your neighbors, get to know the other parents at the drop off line. Ask your neighbors how they’re doing, and be there for each other. There’s unity in community.


  • Writer's pictureCierra Cook

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

When my family was looking to buy our first home in the Portland metro area, we weren't sure where we were going to land. We were newlyweds with a 10 month old (who would soon have a sister!), and affordability was a significant concern. We had a hard time finding a neighborhood in the Portland area that had everything we were looking for within our budget:

  • Easy access to biking and walking trails

  • Access to nature (lots of trees, not a lot of buildings over 2 stories)

  • Resources for families

  • Good schools

  • Small town feel

We viewed homes all over the metro- North Portland, SE Portland, Oregon City, even Troutdale! Everything we were finding was either out of our price range, or didn't have the community vibe we were looking for.


I found a listing for a home right behind Gladstone High School, and asked my husband, "Have we ever been to Gladstone?". We decided to check it out, and left a few hours early for the open house so we could explore the neighborhood.


Our first stop was Happyrock Coffee on Portland Ave. We ordered coffees and sat down at the family-style table to give our 10 month old a bottle while we drank our coffees. Two retirement-aged gentlemen made funny faces at my son while we got his bottle ready, and he was having so much fun laughing at the strangers that it was hard to get him to focus on his bottle.


We started chatting with the men, and mentioned that we were considering a possible move to Gladstone. They were kind and welcoming, and let us know a little background on the town. The young woman across the table chimed in and let us know that she was the children's librarian, on her lunch break from right across the parking lot. She told us all about the resources and events for kids at the library. We spent a few minutes talking together, and the vibe was awesome- it felt just like talking to your friends in the living room. Another woman who was waiting for her coffee overheard us and jumped into the conversation. She was raised in Gladstone and had left in her early adulthood, but had come back when it was time to raise her own children. "It's a great place to raise a family," was the message we heard from all the new people we met in the coffeeshop that day.


We left for the open house totally on fire for Gladstone, and that feeling hasn't left me. The house we viewed that day wasn't right for us, but we narrowed down our search to the 97027 zip code, and a few weeks later found the perfect home for us in lower Gladstone.


Gladstone still feels like a secret. So many people living in the Portland metro drive past Gladstone on the 205 or McLoughlin and have no idea that there is a small city tucked away back here. When I tell people I live in Gladstone, the most common response I get is, "Where the car dealerships are?".


Nestled between two rivers, we're so lucky to have found this gem of a city.


My goal with this website is to be a resource to other families in Gladstone and nearby, and to uplift the good things happening here.


It's nice to have a secret, but it feels even better to share good news with others.



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