It may be the most sought after, time consuming and difficult volunteer job in Ashland, but 14 people want it.
The Ashland City Council now has the list of applicants vying for the position left vacant when Pam Marsh left the council to represent voters in the Oregon House of Representatives earlier this month. They include a former councilor, attorneys, business owners, nonprofit leaders and business executives.
The current City Council and mayor will be reviewing applications, meeting with those candidates and collectively narrowing the field down to finalists. At the start the council had planned to take a preliminary vote in executive session but has since been informed by the City Attorney that they cannot legally do that, according to Mayor John Stromberg. So they will instead do a ballot in a regular business meeting to select the new councilor. That vote is expected at the Feb. 21 meeting, according to the timeline adopted by the council.
The Tidings has previously profiled nine applicants for the position: Shaun Moran, Jan Janssen, Susan Bradley Krant, Louise Shawkat, Gina DuQuenne, Tonya Graham, Theo White, David Young and Emily Trivette.
Five remain: Traci Darrow, Carol Voisin, Mark Haneberg, Christine Fernlund and Annie Hoy.
Traci Darrow is executive director of the Ashland Emergency Food Bank. She took over the job from Marsh. Darrow is a registered nurse and has worked for Senator Ron Wyden, as well as state legislators in Salem. She says in her application she believes in being open minded to solutions and describes her combined background in public policy as well as public health as an asset for the city.
“I think that the most challenging issue facing the city and the city council is the delicate balance of crafting policy solutions that address current issues, such as affordable housing,” said Darrow.
She applies her “broad-based public policy” experience listed on her application to the issue of housing and a growing number of homeless people in Ashland. “Economic opportunity, education, living wage, affordable health care, transportation, access to mental health services — all of these issues are connected.”
Another applicant for Seat 6 is a familiar face to the Ashland City Council: Voisin. She served two terms on the council and ran for mayor. She lost that election but remains interested in public policy for the city of Ashland.
“I have left office with several unfinished projects that I’d like to see through to completion,” said Voisin on her application.
“We need to develop a 21st Century plan via a process in which citizens are invited to participate in setting the vision and direction for our community. Affordable housing for those who work in Ashland is at crisis levels. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund can be an instrument that begins to tackle the crisis, once revenue streams are identified to monetize the Fund,” Voisin said.
She also speaks to reconsidering the city administrator versus city manager approach to governing the city and suggests an inclusive public discourse around the subject.
Attorney Haneberg seeks the council position during a period of time which he describes on his application as both challenging and opportunistic in terms of finding new solutions to issues. “The new (presidential) administration will cause the monetary safety net to shrink. Therefore, I propose a physical safety net — affordable housing.”
Haneberg’s application speaks solely about the need for governments to address the issue of land development, which limits slumlords by making affordable housing development possible and financially feasible for builders, owners, renters and the city of Ashland.
“ Before the 2016 election, it was politically impossible for Ashland to become a complete community — to have all the rungs on the housing ladder. I believe changed circumstances have made it politically possible for Ashland to embrace affordable housing,” said Haneberg in referring to Ashland’s significant resistance to the Trump administration as demonstrated in the recent women’s march which had an estimated participation of 15,000 people.
Christine Fernlund was a business manager for Siemens AG, which she identifies as one of the 20 largest corporations in the world. Her job was managing turnarounds and a $52 million budget. It is that focus which she says she would bring to the Ashland City Council in dealing with its budget cycle and economic factors.
“If I were to choose two focus areas, I would like to see continued efforts in attracting businesses that will bring jobs to the area and expand our tax base, and fast-tracking the project currently underway to provide additional parking downtown.”
Fernlund also references gender diversity as part of her motivation in applying. “Although not my primary motivation, in light of the millions of women and men who marched on January 21st, I believe it is important that the Ashland City Council fill Pam Marsh’s position with a qualified, competent female.”
Hoy, a 30-year resident of Ashland, is the "outreach manager" for the Ashland Food Co-op and a current member of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce board, as well as an active member of the Visitors and Convention bureau.
Hoy says on her application that a councilor should be well informed and not represent a special interest or have a hidden agenda. She says she is applying in part because Marsh suggested she might be a good candidate.
Hoy lists her priorities as affordable housing and making the downtown corridor safe.
“We’re having an affordable housing crisis. The city should investigate housing co-ops as a possible solution,” said Hoy. “We don’t have enough workers to fill jobs and downtown safety. It still doesn’t feel safe downtown at night.”
All 14 candidates were asked to fill out an application answering questions about priorities for the city, qualifications and what they consider as the most important roles for councilors. The application period closed Friday.
All applications can be read on line through the City Recorder’s page on the City of Ashland website. The key word search of "position 6" will get you there, or go to www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=17237.
— Email Ashland freelance writer Julie Akins at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/@julieakins.