West Linn Selects Recent Alum as Youngest-Ever Mayor

In May, West Linn, Oregon, residents resoundingly chose 23-year-old Rory Bialostosky as the city’s youngest-ever mayor. His election as mayor follows a series of “firsts,” including a term as West Linn’s youngest city council member while he was a full-time student at Lewis & Clark.

Rory Bialostosky

In May, West Linn, Oregon, residents chose 23-year-old Rory Bialostosky as the city’s youngest-ever mayor, giving him 80 percent of the vote. He was appointed as interim mayor in January 2023 and was sworn in as the elected mayor on June 20. Bialostosky’s term runs through December 2024. His election as mayor follows a series of “firsts,” including a term as West Linn’s youngest city council member while he was a full-time student at Lewis & Clark.

WHO: Rory Bialostosky BA ’22 ACADEMICS: BA in International Affairs

LOCAL HEROES: Colleagues on the West Linn City Council and City Manager John Williams

L&C MENTORS: Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Social Sciences Cyrus Partovi, Associate Professor of International Affairs Kyle Lascurettes, Professor of Psychology Brian Detweiler-Bedell, and Associate Professor of Political Science Ben Gaskins

How did it feel to be elected as mayor, particularly as a West Linn native?

It’s a humbling and awesome feeling to be voted in by the community, and I’m honored that the voters put their trust in me to serve as mayor. When the results came in, I was at an election night gathering at my house with friends and family. I worked hard campaigning, and it was a great feeling seeing the community support me and my vision for the city in a big way.

What are your priorities in the role?

There are several policies and projects I look forward to continuing to work on. These projects and ideas include beginning our Waterfront Vision Plan to bring the community a new riverfront area to enjoy along the Willamette River south of the Oregon City Bridge; revitalizing the Highway 43 corridor in West Linn; and developing a central indoor recreation center. I’ll continue to oppose the state’s current plan to toll the I-205 freeway in West Linn, which would have a disproportionate impact on our residents. I’ll also work to get our Police Oversight Board up and running.

Outside of being the “youngest ever,” what do you hope for your legacy as mayor?

I hope to inspire people of all ages to get involved in local government. I want my legacy to include significant policy achievements that make the city a better place to live. I also hope that my service leads to more young people being judged on their ideas rather than their age.

You were an undergraduate student at Lewis & Clark when you were elected to the West Linn City Council. How do you reflect on that experience now?

It was a lot of hard work to be a full-time student and city council member. I would go directly from class to council meetings that would often last late into the evening. But I wouldn’t have done it any other way–it was a great learning experience.

How do you see your education impact your day-to-day work in local government?

I took a class in leadership with Professor of Psychology Brian Detweiler-Bedell that I apply to my work as mayor on a regular basis, especially when I think about how to work as part of a team. I also think back to my international affairs coursework, like Studies of Diplomacy with Cyrus Partovi, senior lecturer emeritus in social sciences, which taught me a lot about negotiation. That’s a big part of my job, whether it’s lobbying lawmakers or resolving neighborhood disputes that pop up.

Are there ways in which being a member of Gen Z feels like an asset to your role as mayor?

As a member of Gen Z, I’m particularly focused on the long-term future of West Linn and what the city will look like for my kids and grandkids. There is also social media, which is a strong suit for many people my age and has enabled me to keep the community informed while encouraging more public engagement. It also feels important that this is where I was raised. I see the town from the perspective of some- one who was a student at West Linn schools just five years ago.