With a new mayor on the horizon, it's time to take stock of the futureLong Beach's mayor helps set the tone for South Pacific County's approach on development issues and other important matters. The mayor's importance is surprisingly more than a casual observer might think.

This would be so in any event because of Long Beach's role as the Peninsula's foremost economic driver. But influence of Long Beach and its mayor are made even stronger through leadership of various committees and initiatives. Looking around southwest Washington, Long Beach is among the most dynamic small towns.

So when Long Beach's incumbent mayor wins only 16.5 percent of the votes in a three-way primary, getting bumped from the November ballot, it's a good time to look at what's been going on and take stock of the future.

Dale Jacobson, the departing mayor, has pursued an enthusiastic pro-development course, attaching much importance to the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. It would be a mistake, however, to read the election results as a flat-out repudiation of all Jacobson has stood for.

Residents in Long Beach and elsewhere in both Pacific and Clatsop counties aren't universally pleased with the impending Bicentennial and the measures being taken to prepare for it. Some wish the money could be used for other purposes, while others just want to pull a blanket over the whole region and hope all the attention goes away.

The fact is this grand national event is going to happen regardless whether we like it, and we must make the best of it. This means trying to make the experience as positive as possible for residents and visitors alike. It means working for improvements that will benefit residents long after 2005-06.

Jacobson was absolutely correct is focusing much attention on these matters. Whomever is elected next would be wise to stay the course. The U S. Senate's approval of $1.25 million last week for Fort Clatsop National Memorial expansion is a sure sign the rest of the nation is heading our way.

Even the controversial Discovery Trail from Long Beach to Ilwaco is a brilliant step in the right direction, even if it was over-reaching to condemn Seaview property to do it.

Where Jacobson went wrong was in giving an impression he wasn't interested in listening when people said no to things like swaps of State Parks land or when they questioned construction of a proposed resort-conference center complex on the shore.

What Long Beach needs is not a radical change in direction or in City Hall staff, but rather leadership that brings the people along instead of shutting them off.

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