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Letter to the Editor: Important history won’t be stolen away

This is an open letter to the person and/or persons who came onto my property and stole the flag I had attached to a soffitt on my house.

I can only assume that you removed the flag of Stu Rasmussen because you put him in a box of your prejudice. You didn’t ask why I have the flag. You didn’t ask me why I feel Stu needs to be honored in Silverton. And you obviously have no idea how important Stu was to our city.

Let me educate you.

In 1984, Stu was elected as a member of the City Council for a four year, unpaid, term. (All members of the council, including the mayor serve the city without renumeration.) In 1987, and again in 1990, he was elected, overwhelmingly, to the position of mayor which he held until he stepped aside in 1992. During his service he worked diligently to “keep Silverton, Silverton.” He worked to control growth, and was always fiscally responsible in what he proposed. He would always remind the city staff and members of the council that we did not work for the City of Silverton. “We work for the citizens of Silverton.” That was his mantra.

When I was elected to council, Silverton was in an extreme situation. Since it had become somewhat of a “bedroom” community and residents were working in Salem and Portland, businesses in Silverton were not being supported. Stores were closing. Owners of businesses who wanted to retire could not find buyers. During that time the two car dealerships and the downtown gas stations closed. The two-story furniture store, all the clothing stores closed, as well as the TV/electronics and music shops. 

Stu, ever the creative thinker, looked at what we had and still have –  Silver Falls. Since Woodburn and Mount Angel were having the same problems, he suggested creating a “Silver Falls Tour Route” from I-5 through all three cities. He worked with Marion County and the State in order to get the route established. “People will come and spend their money and then leave” was what he suggested.

Stu was the most ethical person I have ever met (and the smartest). As mayor he was always available to anyone who had a problem with the city, not even accepting a cup of coffee in return.

He was a mentor to me in the world of governing and was my good friend to the very end. I miss him.

When I drive into my driveway and see him smiling at me I remember him and have hope for the future – a future where people are able to be their true selves within a community’s acceptance of the differences that we each have.

You gave that future a question mark with what you did. But, I forgive you for the theft.

The next time you see something you don’t agree with, talk to the person. Try to understand. Stu would have told you what he had to deal with before and after he chose to show how he felt inside. If you asked him.

P.S. I didn’t even get into all the other ways he served Silverton. If you want to know, I will be happy to share that information with you. 

P.P.S. I have replaced the flag.

Barbara Dahlum
Silverton

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