Water, youth, business lead Carr's priority list

Jenifer Carr wants a more stable water supply, more young people in town and more business and light manufacturing in her bid for mayor.

She holds water up above all else "because so many problems are contingent on solving water," she said.

Having just one water source, vulnerable to drought, limits the amount of industry Ashland can attract, she said. She would also like to see the city settle the issue of Mt. Ashland by preventing expansion into the watershed, a move she views as threatening the water supply.

The city needs to decide how to meet Department of Environmental Quality regulations on the wastewater treatment plant, stop more algae growth in Reeder Reservoir and tie into the Talent-Ashland-Phoenix water pipeline project, she said, a move that was defeated by a City Council majority in May.

"It's going to become more and more costly to not do the TAP," she said. "It doesn't mean if we do the TAP, we have to open every faucet in Ashland."

Carr wants to protect Ashland's human resources as well as its natural resources with a variety of programs designed to attract and retain young workers. She envisions a "kitchen cabinet" of young adults forming what she describes as a mayor's committee — a group less formal than a city committee that meets quarterly to identify and solve issues such as lack of affordable housing, employment, health care or transportation that prevent the group's peers from living in Ashland.

"If you don't have your young people in town, everything kind of freezes up," she said. "You lose this incredible energy and growth that is so vital."

She would also like to implement an Ashland Youth Conservation Corps to pay high school students to improve the wetlands and forest interface during the summers.

The third piece of Carr's vision for Ashland calls for fewer regulations and more support for business, including enterprise zones that would provide property tax breaks on new buildings or additions in certain areas.

"There are very few things that businesses do that are heinous," she said. "Let's get a government that is sensible, responsive, caring ... not this thing coming out of City Hall of, 'Wham, you're not in compliance, and you have 13 minutes to comply or pay $500 a day.'"

Instead, the best way to bring money into the city budget is to work with state legislators to lift a ban on real estate transfer taxes or implement a sales tax, she said.

She does not support any more property taxes, she said, but she would like to see more creative work on affordable and energy efficient housing, such as exploring the use of air rights and banning the use of arable land for housing.

Carr lists city government experience back to the 1970s on the Aspen, Colo., City Council, a tenure that taught her to stand up for what she believes in, she said.

"When you are in the position, you cannot be afraid, you cannot be worried about nasty things people say about you," she said, recalling one man who threatened to kill her at an Aspen council meeting. "You cannot serve thoughtlessly. You cannot serve in fear."

She cited an example from her tenure on the Planning Commission in the 1990s when she voted against approving an addition to Ashland High School auditorium that had much more "fly space" than other professional theaters in town.

"I thought it might be an overuse of money," she said. "I believe I was the sole 'no' vote."

Carr also served on the first affordable housing commission, a transportation committee and the ad hoc committee that developed the big box ordinance, she said.

Staff writer Julie French can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or jfrench@dailytidings.com.

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