Mayor’s race: Stu Rasmussen challenges status quo

October 2010 Posted in News, People

By BrenStu Rasmussen relaxes during one of his garage Wiegand

Stu Rasmussen was the kid taking the toaster apart to see how it worked – and putting it together again, his family none the wiser. His volunteerism started quite early and was fostered by a number of patient mentors.

“During the summers while going to Eugene Field Elementary School I’d show up at the building to help Mr. McCullough, the maintenance man, with his projects.”

That gave him a window into carpentry, plumbing, mechanics and even boiler repair.

He made himself handy slithering into crawl spaces to pull electrical wiring from place to place for local electrician Carl Riggs.

Gaub Brothers television and electronics repair shop was across from school. Fascinated with electronics, the boy made it a regular hangout.

“I must have asked about a thousand questions a day,” he said. “It was a miracle they got any real work done.” But Clarence and Ernie Gaub’s longsuffering set Rasmussen on a lifelong pursuit of technology, primarily in the area of electronics.

Stu Rasmussen, 62, and Victoria Sage
share a 35-year relationship –
and cats Phoebe, Tiger, Libby, Biff and Sophie.
Occupation: Freelance computer
software engineer; co-owner,
Palace Theatre, Mt. Angel Performing
Arts Center, Corporate Media Services;
and “general helper” at Zebra Print
Contact: 503-873-8005;;

By high school Rasmussen was taking care of the audio-visual department and lights and sound for dramatic presentations. “I was too shy to appear onstage,” he said.

Upon receiving an Electronics Engineering degree from Chemeketa – then Salem Technical Vocational Community College – Rasmussen was hired by Tektronix. During his eight years there he performed myriad projects, mostly having to do with television broadcast engineering. He said his book on the subject is used as a reference to this day.

“I’m fascinated by technological innovation – I often work on the ‘bleeding edge’ of new products and I’m always curious about how things work,” he said. That and his entrepreneurial spirit led to the startup and development of several small businesses, including the area’s first cable system.

“I first got interested in politics while building it. I had to get a franchise from Silverton City Council, a process I found frustrating and overly bureaucratic.

“After the Silverton and Mount Angel cable television companies were up and running, in 1984 I ran for City Council on a platform emphasizing fiscal responsibility and making government more efficient and user-friendly.

“During my first tenure on city council and as mayor, I was instrumental in establishing the Silver Falls Tour Route, the Oregon Garden, upgrading the sewer and water plants and other projects too numerous to mention,” Rasmussen said. “I established a firm reputation as a no-nonsense, penny-pinching representative of the people.”

In 2008 the City of Silverton drew international attention for electing the first openly transgendered mayor in the U.S.

“This Silverton community event will be in the history books,” Rasmussen said. “We could not have purchased that positive PR for millions of dollars.”

He said he is intent on improving the safety of the Silverton Reservoir Dam; restoring “user-friendly traffic patterns” and getting city government to carefully think through issues in order to avoid applying “big solutions to small problems.”

He says the last two years have been a challenge characterized by council members who “rubber-stamp city staff recommendations” and “cheerfully hand out your hard-earned tax dollars as gifts and happily approve spending above and beyond what is needed to do the job.”

“My employees would tell you I’m smart, logical, tough and fair,” he said.

“I can’t abide waste or inefficiency and am brazenly outspoken when necessary. Although these are good qualities in managing a private business, it appears that intelligence may be a handicap in politics.”

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