In 2020, Rory Bialostosky ’22 ran for City Council in his hometown of West Linn, Oreg. during his junior year at Lewis & Clark. Bialostosky ran, and won, with the support of his neighbors.
However, following the resignation of former Mayor Jules Walters, the City Council voted for Bialostosky to take her place, as an interim replacement.
“I never expected to be doing this,” Bialostosky said. “I was Council President last year, who is second in line to the mayor. She (Walters) ran for state legislature because an incumbent resigned, taking a stand on the issues of the paydown legislature. So, our mayor stepped down for the Democratic Party endorsement.”
Bialostosky’s interest in city politics began before college when there was a dilemma with parking at his local high school.
“There was a parking zone around the high school where students could not park during school hours, but the streets were empty,” Bialostosky said. “The neighbors would rent out their driveways to the students but they had ample parking on the streets because they had permits. I was advocating for the students.”
While Bialostosky is young, he has never let the arguments about his age hold him back from running the city. Bialostosky and other members of Gen Z, such as Florida’s Max Frost who recently won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, encourage young people to get into politics at any level.
“It’s about the ideas that you bring to the table,” Bialostosky said. “I get the discontent but if you give up, you are going to let other people win.”
Even as interim mayor, there are several issues that Bialostosky is focusing on, including the Abernathy Bridge waterline crisis, which would be exacerbated by the potential tolling of I-205 between Oregon City and West Linn. This project, headed by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), would mean the city would have to replace the waterline despite having 20-30 years of life left.
“We do not really have any funding for it,” Bialostosky said. “We have asked the state legislature to give $6 million to help because right now we have had to cancel all of our existing maintenance projects for our water system.”
The other priority for Bialostosky is mitigating the impacts of tolling. The state of Oregon is going to begin tolling I-5 and I-205 throughout the metropolitan area. The decision to toll is advised from the ODOT’s “Environmental Assessment,” which includes looking at the impact of travel times on I-205, traffic on neighboring streets, the local economy, household spending, and greenhouse gas emissions.
“Tolls in West Linn on I-205 are planned to start first,” Bialostosky said. “The city, the council, and myself are really concerned and want to make sure if the state is going to pursue this, we want to make sure that our streets are not overrun with cars getting off because it’s too expensive.”
Having previously served on the city council, Bialostosky had some in-house issues that he plans to focus on.
“There were some things I disagreed with in the council chambers,” Bialostosky said. “General dysfunction, long meetings, a lot of infighting, and inefficiency I would say. The city attorney sits in here and he gets charged by the hour, so he was making a lot of money because the council was taking so long making decisions.”
Rory has also received great support from LC faculty, including former Professor in International Affairs Cyrus Partovi. Partovi enjoyed having Bialostosky as an advisee and student for four of his classes. Partovi anticipates that Bialostosky runs for Mayor in May 2023.
“As soon as he declared his candidacy for office, I became one of his first contributors to his campaign,” Partovi said. “I hope he runs for mayor in May. He has a great future.”