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Software engineers run for Talent council

TALENT — Two software professionals are seeking the four-year term for City Council Position 5 in the Nov. 6 election. Three other positions on the council each have one candidate running.

David Higgins will face Eleanor Ponomareff for the Position 5 seat. Current incumbent Ryan Pederson, who was elected to a four-year term in 2014, announced during the summer that he would not seek re-election

Ponomareff has lived in Talent since 2006 and has worked most of that time as a software engineer for Plexis Health Care in Ashland. Higgins is retired but was a software project manager at Lockheed Martin Corp. from 1999 to 2000 and also worked as a senior technical staff member for OnCommand Corp. for four years. He’s been in Talent 13 years.

Ponomareff began serving on two city committees earlier this year. She is chair of the citizen advisory committee on the energy element of the city’s Comprehensive Plan and serves on the citizen advisory committee on the Urban Growth Boundary alternatives analysis. Higgins has been attending City Council sessions in recent months, he said.

Both candidates said the city appears to be headed in the right direction and they want to build on that momentum.

“I think they have a good path,” said Higgins. “I thought it would be a good time to step in. Hopefully we will stay on a good path.”

Talent is moving in a good direction, thanks in large part to the energy of residents who are passionate about the city, and she wants to help build on the process, said Ponomareff.

“I learned about solving problems and bringing diverse points of view together in a nice, cohesive whole,” Higgins said of his experience as a software project manager.

Higgins’ top priority is to manage growth in a sustainable, intelligent way and to ensure there is sufficient planning for what comes next as opposed to short-term planning.

“A lot of people don’t seem to know what is going on,” said Higgins, who called for enhanced communication from the council to residents. Higgins will campaign by talking with people and participating in events such as the Harvest Festival. He has no plans for a publication or lawn signs, but that could change, he said.

“As a software engineer I spend all my time learning new things, analyzing problems and helping to reach collaborative solutions,” said Ponomareff. “I have found these skills to be highly transferable.”

Top priorities for Ponomareff include work to create affordable housing and a sustainable community. She also wants to maintain Talent’s small-town qualities. She supports city efforts underway to realize energy sufficiency and to reduce use of pesticides in parks. She also supports the nonprofit Talent Maker City program. Ponomareff plans to campaign by knocking on doors and talking with residents to find out what is important to them.

Councilor Daria Land has filed for election to a four-year term in Council Seat 1. She was appointed to that position in 2017. Land is executive director of the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market. She previously worked for CASA of Jackson County and The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County.

Councilor Stephanie Dolan has filed for election to a four-year term in Council Seat 3. She has been executive director of the Northern California Tribal Court Coalition since 2005 and is an attorney. She was appointed to the council in June 2017 and previously served on the city’s Planning Commission.

Jason Clark is seeking Seat 6, a two-year term. Ken Baker, who was appointed to the seat in 2017, is running for mayor. Under city rules when a councilor resigns in the first two years of a four-year term, an appointment is made until the next general election, at which time the seat is filled for the remaining two years. Clark is a botanist and ecological consultant. He did not list any government experience on his candidate filing sheet.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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