Mayor: Challenger Forest Bosley seeks to ‘represent’ residents, help the homeless

Forest Bosley made Lebanon his home about 13 years ago, and now he says he is ready to devote more time to improving the community.
“I really love this town and I want to make the biggest impact I can in the direction that the people want,” he said.
Bosley is new to politics and has not volunteered on any city committees or boards, he said.
“Since I’m new at this, I’m learning how to be as effective as possible at the same time,” he said. “But I’m a trial-by-fire person, I never take any failure as anything personal, just a learning lesson.”
He feels his abilities are more aligned to responsibilities of mayor rather than those of a council member.
“Whether my plans are perfect or not, it really comes down to what the City Council wants to do,” Bosley said. “Here in Lebanon, the mayor’s position is extremely cosmetic. The mayor in this town, when it comes to the city government, they’re a figure head. They can break tie-breaker votes. They can talk about ordinances and bring their opinion into the mix, but as it goes for their power within the city council, it’s limited compared to a city councilman.
“But to me, what the mayor of the town should represent is the people that live in that town.”
After speaking with Lebanon Local, Bosley sent an email in which he said he wanted to clarify what he meant by saying the position of mayor was cosmetic.
“I was implying that it currently seemed cosmetic and wasn’t being represented on the same level I felt it should be,” Bosley said in the email. “The position should represent the people of the community and I don’t feel it currently does. That led me to the reference about many people we have talked to that didn’t know Paul was the current mayor.”
He said he has run into people who still think Ken Toomb is the mayor. Toomb’s term ended in 2012 when Paul Aziz was elected mayor.
“Mr. Aziz has been the mayor for 4½ years,” Bosley said. “That tells me, that to me, what the mayor represents is that he’s not being part of the community. He’s not out there listening to people who are having real problems. Nothing against the guy personally; I don’t ever want to talk bad about a person, it’s not something I want to do.”
Bosley said the homeless issue in Lebanon is one he can relate to personally.
“I’ve been homeless, so I know where they’re coming from,” Bosley said.
Bosley said he was homeless for about six months in Albany and “a little bit higher on I-5,” before he met his wife. That was 13 years ago. The couple has three children.
“I really do appreciate her a lot for that because I was trying to find a way out of being homeless,” Bos-ley said. “I didn’t like it. And she gave me a way out.”
At the time, he was making short-term friends, couch hopping and occasionally sleeping outside.
“I had no solidity,” Bosley said. “I like having things under my feet. I like being solid.”
Bosley said he has been talking to some of the people who are homeless in Lebanon.
“They want some of their own solidity,” Bosley said. “As one of them put it to me, he’s not homeless he’s houseless. The town of Lebanon is his home. A lot of them love and care for this town a great deal. And they want to be part of it. They just have no interest in having a house. They just want a nice place to put their tent. There are people who are like that. And you’ve got to accept the fact not everyone’s going to want to fit in the same little boxes.”
Bosley met some men who are homeless at a rally in River Park that he learned about through the Rural Oregon Progressive Voices Facebook group.
“Everyone was talking about things like the TPP, and Measure 97,” Bosley said. “They were also having a soup kitchen gathering down there as well near the park, so when they finished their stuff, some of the homeless guys came over to see what we were doing and I talked to them there.”
One of the men needed surgery, which he would be able to get, but did not have a place to recover, Bosley said.
“Why can’t we help them?” he asked. “There’s lots of empty buildings that can be used here in town and there’re lots of people here in town, much like myself, who don’t ever see people as a problem.”
They see the peoples’ problems as something they can help with, he said.
“As our motto says, we’re the town that friendliness built and we need to keep it that way,” Bosley said.
“You can’t do that without listening to the people and their needs.”
He said he is trying to reach out to others who may feel disenfranchised, though he declined to name any groups.
“There are lots of quiet communities in town that I think I share a lot of interests with that I think just don’t vote anymore,” Bos-ley said.
He just discovered some relatives may have friends in the groups he is trying to contact, he said.
“It’s just a community group,” Bosley said. “They do stuff in town. Like I said, I don’t want to mention them because I’m now getting in contact with them and I don’t want to mention the group yet. My family member is now working me into a meeting.”
Bosley said his adaptability will also be an asset in the position of mayor.
“I’m always looking for new ways, better ways,” Bosley said. “I’ve acquired skills my entire life I use entirely differently than they were taught to me because you grow and you change over time and your skills have to do the same.”
One thing he has changed his mind about is marijuana.
“It’s still kind of a hot button throughout the state,” Bosley said.
Five years ago, he would have been against legalized recreational marijuana, he said.
He has seen people benefit from medical uses and thinks recreational marijuana should be treated like alcohol.
“Honestly, I would rather have someone sitting at home watching a movie, stoned and happy than be drinking a little bit too much and getting into a fight in public,” he said.
If he is not elected mayor, Bosley said he will still be more involved with helping the Lebanon community.

By Audrey Caro Gomez
Lebanon Local