Mordhorst wants to involve West Salem

Lyle Mordhorst will replace retiring Commissioner Jennifer Wheeler on the Polk County Board of Commissioners.

Photo by Jolene Guzman
Lyle Mordhorst will replace retiring Commissioner Jennifer Wheeler on the Polk County Board of Commissioners.



DALLAS — Newly appointed Polk County Commissioner Lyle Mordhorst’s goal in the next two years is to create a better connection between West Salem and county leadership.

“I think I can get some more involvement from West Salem into the county, and my goal is to get more of the county involved in West Salem,” he said. “I want to bring them both together, so we are all one voice. There are many regional issues right now, and West Salem is in the center of all of it.”

Mordhorst is the manager of the West Salem Les Schwab. He has volunteered on the Edgewater Redevelopment Advisory Board, the West Salem Gateway Revitalization Study project advisory committee, and on the West Salem High School Education Foundation. He is involved with the West Salem Business Association and was on the committee that organized replacing the turf field at West Salem High School.

Commissioners Craig Pope and Mike Ainsworth appointed Mordhorst at the board’s Dec. 5 meeting. Starting on Feb. 1, Mordhorst will serve the last two years of Jennifer Wheeler’s term. Wheeler will retire at the end of this year. Mordhorst may run for election in 2020.

When deliberating on their choices, Ainsworth mentioned that he and Pope both live on Airlie Road in Monmouth, pointing out the lack of representation from other parts of the county on the board. When making his selection, he wanted to remedy that. He looked to West Salem and Mordhorst to fill the vacancy.

“He is involved so much in West Salem, and with regards to the third bridge,” Ainsworth said. “We need a real voice over there.“

He said completing the third bridge project, which would build a new Willamette River crossing between Polk County and Marion County in Salem, would be beneficial to the entire county.

Mordhorst was Pope’s first choice as well.

“This is the first time and the only time we’ve had a conversation about the candidates other than in the room when we had our interview process.” Pope said. “We don’t get to deliberate. It’s a really challenging thing to know that you are going to come sit in front of the audience and potentially argue over your choices.”

Ainsworth had considered that as well, and cleared his schedule for the morning to give them time to deliberate further if needed.

That wasn’t necessary. It took 20 minutes for the two to cast the vote for the appointment.

Pope said he felt the need to balance geographical equity and gender equity when picking candidate.

Mordhorst said he had trouble sleeping the two nights before Wednesday’s meeting.

“I’m pinching myself right now,” Mordhorst said shortly after the vote.

He said he’s always had an interest in politics.

“Working for Les Schwab, you are not allowed to run for office. You have to quit,” he said. “I’ve got 35 years with the company, and I was getting close to retirement anyway. When this came up, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”

Mordhorst won’t officially take the seat until February in order to help with the transition in leadership at Les Schwab. That doesn’t mean he won’t be around.

Pope thanked the other four candidates: Micky Garus, Burney Krauger, Anna Scharf and Kimber Townsend.



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