After months of passionate campaigning, Rory Bialostosky ’22 defeated nine other candidates for a seat on the city council of West Linn, Oregon. The Lewis & Clark student has created a name for himself in the community as a competent leader and politician. On Nov. 3, as he took his first steps into his new position, Bialostosky was welcomed with almost unanimous applause.
As a long-standing member of West Linn’s political community, Bialostosky had always hoped to bring his community’s council back into the fold as a punctual organization.
“People were excited that a young person was able to do it,” he said. “They wanted to give a young person a chance to run the government and contribute to the decision-making.”
Bialostosky commended his fellow councilors and staff on their ability to come together and work as a decisive unit. West Linn City Council has faced criticism for their long-winded arguments and failure to make progress, but Bialostosky plans to change that.
“I really am honored by that trust that (the community) has put in me, and I am going to do my best to do a good job,” he said.
Along with Bialostosky, his fellow council members have made an immense effort to overcome the trials that have previously led to a lack of progress.
“In the past, our council had been so dysfunctional, struggling to make decisions,” he said. “I ran and said let’s work together, let’s move the city forward instead of keeping us stuck.”
Unlike his colleagues, Bialostosky is a student juggling work and school. However, he has received an incredible amount of support from his professors. As a junior international affairs major, he has found no shortage of work to keep him busy. Thanks to Associate Professor of Political Science and Department Chair Ellen Seljan, he has been able to enroll in only three classes.
“(She) was willing to do a four-credit internship just to make sure that I am getting credit for city council,” Bialostosky said.
Despite this, other challenges remain. Age has yet to become a factor, but he still faces criticism from his predecessors. His own swearing-in ceremony was repeatedly interrupted by an outgoing city councilor, Teri Cummings, who expressed her disapproval of his election. However, Bialostosky understands that these moments will not hinder him from being a well-organized councilor.
“It comes with the responsibility of being elected,” he said.
Bialostosky has not allowed the naysayers to delay his political goals. For example, he expressed enthusiasm about his most immediate plan to enact positive changes and reform the West Linn Police Department through advocacy.
Bialostosky is also looking towards the Waterfront Project with hopes of establishing a new space for businesses along the river by Willamette Falls. There is still debate regarding how to make the best use of the space, but Bialostosky sees it as a prime economic opportunity for the town. He also mentioned his hopes of rebuilding the reputation of the West Linn City Council on a statewide level.
“I grew up here so it’s nice to know after watching the council for so long, that I get to be a part of it and make the decisions that will shape the future,” Bialostosky said. “That is what I am most excited for.”