Thursday, January 25, 2007/lk
By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
January 3, 2007
Arthur Babitz will take his seat at the Hood River City Council table on Monday — a role that he has studied for months.
Since winning the November election, Babitz has spent his spare time reading the city charter and relevant statutes. He has also taken time to meet with other members of the council and city department heads.
That information has helped Babitz develop a list of priorities for the council’s Jan. 27 goal-setting session. His top priorities will be to help pull the city out of it current budget hole — and upgrade the aging sewer and water systems.
“This (goal setting) is where the rubber meets the road,” said Babitz, “and those broad themes we all talked about during the campaign — things like livability, affordable housing — get fleshed out so city staff can convert them into meaningful programs.”
As an electrical engineer, he is “the sort of guy who likes to understand how everything works.” So, Babitz set out to learn what citizens wanted from their local government. He plans to remain on the learning curve as Hood River works to accommodate growth without losing its small-town character.
“Most of the time I spent campaigning was just talking to people about issues that are important to them. Knock on someone’s door the day the water bill arrives, and you’ll get in a good discussion about water and sewer rates,” he said. “I hope to continue talking with anyone who’s willing about any and every issue.”
Babitz’ door-to-door candidacy paid off when he beat out Martin Campos-Davis for the at-large position. Councilors Paul Blackburn and Carrie Nelson have also returned to another four years of public service. All three winners of the 2006 contest join Mayor Linda Streich, who ran unopposed, and Councilors Ann Frodel and Laurent Picard.
“When I started my campaign people warned me that I would quickly become cynical, but that sure hasn’t happened yet,” said Babitz. “The mechanics of our election process is fascinating to me, and I’d encourage anyone to try.
“Running for office took a lot of effort, but I learned so much and met so many good people that I think it would have been worth it even if I didn’t win.
“I’ve seen nothing yet to reduce my sense of optimism. I may still wind up a crusty cynic, but right now most conversations I have start with ‘Why would you want to do that?’ and end with a discussion of how they, too, can get involved.”
Babitz believes that the workings of government should be visible to the people – as well as responsive to their concerns. He encourages all citizens to become informed about city policies by visiting Hood River’s Web site at www.ci.hood-river.or.us.
He also invites his constituents to attend council meetings and make sure their voices are heard at 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of each month.
Babitz oversees Animation Toolworks, Inc., from his Hazel Avenue home. With 25 years of experience in high-tech product design, he leads software and hardware development teams at several major firms.