PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – After West Linn Mayor Jules Walters resigned in December, the city appointed one of its youngest city leaders ever.
After winning his first election to city council in 2020, Rory Bialostosky, 23, is now serving as interim mayor.
While Bialostosky says he’s been involved in local politics since high school, he explained that he had no ambitions of becoming mayor.
“It just kind of fell into place because Mayor Walters ran for the state legislature, there was a vacancy there, and then I was the Council President, so I just volunteered to step up,” Bialostosky said.
When deciding on his first run for office, he explained he wanted to get involved in local politics to help with issues like wasteful spending and long city council meetings.
“I kind of just fell in love with local government,” Bialostosky said. “Also, there were some issues on the city council that I didn’t agree with, some general dysfunction, long meetings, what I thought was wasteful spending on the city attorney, etcetera, so based on that [I] decided, I had some time, I’ll try to get involved.”
Since joining local government, Bialostosky says “I’m really proud of the way we’ve kind of reformed the West Linn government, our meetings are more efficient, we’re more civil.”
As interim mayor, Bialostosky faces concerns like potential tolling between West Linn and Oregon City and Interstate 205 to the Abernathy Bridge. He says, he’s concerned about the toll’s impacts on diverted traffic in the city’s business district as some drivers try to avoid tolls.
Bialostosky says West Linn is looking to the Oregon Department of Transportation to quantify and mitigate the impacts of diverged traffic — and he wants to mitigation efforts to happen before tolls are in place.
The tolling project would also impact the city’s waterline, which runs under the Abernathy Bridge, according to Bialostosky — adding they would need to replace the waterline which has 20 to 30 years of use left, for $14 million. The interim mayor says he’s asking the legislature to contribute half of the funds for the project.
Bialostosky says the city’s concerns are not being heard by ODOT and is asking for more transparency on tolling impact.
“The consistent response from ODOT has been ‘we’re just going to monitor what happens and then we’ll mitigate as we go.’ But as I always say, government can move pretty slowly, so we’re not really satisfied with the wait and see approach when it comes to our local neighborhoods and business districts potentially being extremely negatively impacted,” Bialostosky said.
As Bialostosky fills in as interim mayor, the city is holding a special election in March for city council positions and a mayoral election in May — noting he will be considering a run in the next few weeks.