Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hello, my name is...

"Hello, my name is Arthur Babitz and I'm running for City Council." I'd better get used to hearing myself saying that, because I will have to say it a few thousand times in the next 8 weeks. Last week I filed to get my name on the ballot in Hood River, Oregon. This is an entirely new adventure for me-- while I follow local and national politics closely, I've never had the courage or time to put myself in the middle of it. But now a combination of issues I care about and prodding by friends and neighbors has convinced me to jump in. I'll get into the political process and the issues in later posts, but to start here's some info about Hood River for those of you following this from afar:

Hood River is a city of about 6200 residents on the Columbia River in Oregon, about 60 miles east of Portland. Hood River's economy is a complex mix. Hood River has historically had three major employers:

• agriculture, driven by nearby orchard producing famous pears, apples, and many other crops
• tourism, especially sports related tourism such as hiking, biking, kayaking, windsurfing, kiteboarding, skiing, and snowboarding
• forest products, with nearby county, national, and private forests

More recently the area has seen several hi-tech companies set up shop, and the city is full of independent business owners such as engineers, architects, writers, graphic designs, who brought their work with them so they could enjoy the area with their families. And with numerous B&B's and nearby wineries, weddings have become a significant part of the local economy. Perhaps the best way to summarize the local economy is to say the people of Hood River are a varied bunch who have found many different ways to support themselves so they can enjoy the natural beauty and opportunities for recreation with which we are blessed.

Hood River has received more than its share of national attention lately as magazines such as Outside, Men's Journal, and National Geographic Adventure have included us in their "best places to ..." lists. Like many locals I read these articles with some pride, but cringe a little with the thought of how we will deal with the increased traffic and development. But I'll save the politics for later posts.


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