As we choose future leaders, I would like to praise Gary Forner’s service as mayor of Ilwaco. Mayor Forner has been a careful team-builder, consensus-builder, and problem-solver. Those qualities are the ones Ilwaco needs — now and in the future.

First and foremost, Mayor Forner has insisted on teamwork and respect in city government. His 28 years as park ranger — a job that combines law enforcement with customer service — have reinforced his habit of listening to everyone, and of making all decisions fairly.

In City Council meetings and in private conversations, Mayor Forner insists that we all respect each other, report on our work, and work as a team. The result is that good council members, of every political persuasion, are happy to work together for the people’s benefit.

Ilwaco’s current City Council inherited a water system that couldn’t handle the city’s needs. High summer water demand, and inconsistent quality at the water intake, filled the water-treatment building with backed-up water contaminated with treatment chemicals. This created hazards for workers and eventually rotted the building’s steel supports. Other delayed maintenance affected the Whealdon Road reservoir and various supply lines throughout the city.

Mayor Forner tackled these problems patiently, without blaming others. He watched for opportunities to leverage state and federal funds to fix and protect the system. While I believe Ilwaco’s water rates are still much too high, the money is doing what we need it to do. It’s assuring our city’s future.

Since spring 2020, Mayor Forner persuaded all council members to join him in suspending elected officials’ salaries, in order to avoid layoffs and to lessen the pandemic’s burden on all citizens. He has retained excellent staff. He hired well-qualified successors for those who left.

In public and in private, Mayor Forner works to advance Ilwaco’s safety and future prosperity. He works for better broadband, safer intersections, welcoming signage, enjoyable parks, and housing for all.

It has been a pleasure to work on Ilwaco’s challenges with the current Council, under Mayor Forner’s leadership. As you vote, please remember Gary Forner’s accomplishments and constructive spirit.

DAVE CUNDIFF

Ilwaco

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