Interview with mayoral candidate Art Bullock

Editor's Note: These are the results of a Tidings survey e-mailed to all candidates.

DT: How old are you?

AB: declined to answer

DT: How long have you been in Ashland?

AB: declined to answer

DT: What are your top three priorities?

AB: Reconnect city government to the majority will of the people by confirming council decisions on major issues by votes of the people at ballot. [Bullock listed just one priority.]

DT: What is the biggest issue facing Ashland in the next two years, and how do you intend to address it?

AB: Ashland's biggest issue is the disconnect between city government and the majority will of the people. To address it, confirm Council decisions on major issues by votes of the people at ballot.

DT: What kind of experience do you have, and how will it affect your approach to city government?

AB: The brief list below, and many other professional experiences implementing advanced empowerment systems across America, would lead me to ensure city government is run legally (follow the law) and democratically (follow the majority will of the people).

(1) Co-founded and led to write five charter amendments through community consensus of diverse perspectives.

(2) Discovered major shifts of power from the people to the government in last spring's charter ballot, then led a citizens' empowerment effort to educate the electorate, who voted 77% NO.

(3) Won Jackson County Circuit Court case (Nevada Street LID) against city of Ashland; proved the city used illegal cost-sharing percentages that shifted tax money to a developer. Taxpayers lost $55,000 in this illegal subsidy.

(4) Won LUBA case (Glenn Street development) against city of Ashland by proving that Council (and Planning Commission) gave developer an illegal exception to the law.

(5) Led a united Quiet Village citizens' empowerment drive that stopped the city's proposed closing of the Glenn Street railroad crossing, which would have sacrificed family and child safety near Helman Elementary School for an ODOT "incentive."

(6) Led a three-year consensus legislation effort to protect Ashland's water from privatization. Effort produced ground-breaking legislation in a proposed city charter amendment that establishes Ashland's water supply as a commons to be protected in perpetuity as a sustainable resource and public trust.

DT: Would you try to be a strong leader, or do you see your role more as the facilitator of City Council meetings?

AB: Not either-or, both-and. By charter, Ashland uses a strong mayor model. By charter, mayor is chief executive officer of the $95 million corporation known as city of Ashland. Facilitating council meetings is one duty of the position. Mayor's job is to implement the majority will of the people by facilitating consensus legislation among Council and electorate.

DT: What do you think the city government's role should be in relation to the business community?

AB: To support economic development through (1) proper land use planning (such as the Croman property), (2) appropriately limited administrative ordinances (for signs, parking, etc.), and (3) lower fees, licenses and taxes. Economic research shows that the number one action local governments can take to support business development is not to subsidize them with tax breaks, subsidy payments or financial incentives. It's to limit regulations and increases in taxes and fees that burden businesses, particularly small businesses.

DT: Is the current pace of growth in Ashland desirable?

AB: Ashland's business growth has been mostly from a 35 percent increase in small businesses. Ashland's population growth has been 1 to 1.5 percent compounded annually. The appropriate way for the people of Ashland to manage growth is through consensus legislation with council and the business community, confirmed at ballot by the majority, re land-use zoning laws, setting the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), tax policy, support for green businesses (the growing sustainability industry), etc.

DT: Should the city government continue to devote resources to affordable housing?

AB: For years, the city of Ashland has devoted many staff and financial resources to affordable housing, yet many approved affordable housing units haven't stayed affordable, and some were never built. As with other major commitments of discretionary tax resources, we need a community consensus to plan the appropriate action and priorities, confirmed or disconfirmed by majority vote at ballot, so we all know city government is on the right track.

DT: How would you address the city government's growing financial problems?

AB: By taking Council's and Citizens Budget Committee's proposals for major changes (increases or decreases) in taxes, debt, parkland sales, service level changes, etc. to the ballot for the majority to set direction.

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