Two seek seat on council

Dennis Slattery, an associate professor who teaches business courses at Southern Oregon University, and local attorney Bruce Harrell have filed paperwork to run for the position held by Ashland City Councilwoman Kate Jackson in the November election.

Jackson said she hasn't made a definitive decision about whether to seek re-election yet.

"I was holding off making my decision because I have a lot of family stuff that I didn't expect going on. At this point, I may not," Jackson said.

Asked whether she might take a break from politics and run for another elected position — such as Ashland mayor — in the future, Jackson said it's a possibility. Mayor John Stromberg's seat will be up for election in 2012.

Jackson was first appointed to the council in 2002 to fill a temporary absence, then ran for council that year and won. In 2006, Harrell, Stromberg and resident Nick Frost challenged Jackson for her seat, but she won re-election for another four-year term.

While Jackson is undecided about whether she will seek a third term, she said she is glad that long-term residents have stepped forward to run for her seat. During her time in office she has gained a reputation as a person who is both pro-business and pro-city government. She hasn't shied away from trying to find additional revenues to fund city government.

Slattery, who is married to Ashland Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sandra Slattery, said he is supportive of the local business community.

"The kind of business community we have in Ashland is something everyone should value," he said. "We have hard-working people who are working to employ people.

"It's a challenging environment to do business in."

Slattery has served on the Ashland Citizens' Budget Committee, an appointed group that works with the council and mayor to make decisions about the city budget. He has had a moderate approach to city finances, rather than being a strict fiscal conservative.

Last year, Slattery voted against a proposal to raise city property taxes to their legal ceiling in order to build a reserve fund against tough economic times. This year, he voted with a minority of Budget Committee members to raise city property taxes to their limit in order to set aside money for high public employee retirement costs that are looming next year.

"A little bit of money in the bank would have been good," Slattery said.

Slattery said he is a moderate who has spent the last decade making an effort to reach out to people with different viewpoints. He has been an Ashland resident for three decades.

"I want to help things move forward," he said. "There are a lot of things we agree on in Ashland."

Slattery said he ran unsuccessfully for city recorder about 16 years ago, but has not run for any other political office until now.

Harrell said he ran against Jackson four years ago because of his frustration over city government spending — and that frustration has not abated.

"The city's financial condition is worse than it was four years ago," he said.

"I'm running on a platform of fiscal responsibility. Things are worse here and everywhere. Things just keep on getting worse. The city keeps raising fees and taxes and spending gobs of money on unnecessary things."

Harrell said he hadn't heard that Jackson might not seek re-election, while Slattery said he had heard that news.

Harrell said rising fees and taxes make it more difficult for people to afford living in Ashland.

Harrell said the council has not moved forward on a plan to connect to Medford's water supply in order to supplement limited Ashland supplies.

"You can't get more basic for a public service than water. It's a question of priorities. You have to take care of first things first," he said.

A consulting firm is creating a water master plan for the city of Ashland that will analyze options for supplementing the water supply.

Harrell, who has worked as an attorney in Ashland since 1992 and lived here since 1986, is semi-retired. He has filled in as a judge in Medford small claims court and served as a delegate for the California State Democratic Party.

In the early 1980s, Harrell, who is legally blind, advocated for legislation in California to help disabled and abused children.

Like Slattery, Harrell said he believes he can work with people with opposing views.

"Politics is the art of compromise. It's hard to make progress if people won't compromise. I try to work with people and persuade them to find the middle ground," Harrell said.

Councilman David Chapman has filed paperwork with the Ashland City Recorder's office to run for re-election. Councilman Eric Navickas, whose seat is also up for election, has not filed paperwork yet.

"I haven't made a definite decision," Navickas said. "I'm seriously considering it. I'm getting a lot of positive encouragement from the community to run again."

Challengers have yet to file paperwork to run for Chapman or Navickas' positions.

The seats held by the mayor and council members Greg Lemhouse, Russ Silbiger and Carol Voisin are not up for election this November.

The last day to file paperwork to run for city office is Aug. 20.

For more information, visit and click on "Election Information."

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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