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City has first council candidate

Richard Strathern files for David Widmark's seat
by: contributed photo, Richard A. Strathern

Gresham has its first City Council candidate.

Richard A. Strathern is running for Position 4, now filled by Councilor David Widmark.

So far, Strathern is the only candidate for the seat. In fact, he's the only person so far to have filed for any of the three open councilor seats on the November ballot.

Strathern said he filed for Widmark's position after Widmark withdrew from the race in June, citing health concerns.

Councilors appointed Widmark in July 2005 to fulfill the remaining 18 months of Councilor David Shields' four-year term after Shields resigned to sit on the Mt. Hood Community College Board of Education.

Strathern, 68, said he filed for Widmark's seat in part to keep busy after retiring in 2003 from Worksystems Inc, a non-profit organization overseeing career placement and training programs, where he worked as director of business and industry. Before that he was human resources director and plant manager for Precision Castparts Corporation.

'I feel that my human resources and business background can provide a tremendous service to the council,' Strathern said.

Instead of paying a $10 fee for his nomination, Strathern filed his candidacy on July 21 with signatures from 40 citizen supporters, including Gresham Mayor Charles Becker, Council President and mayoral candidate Shane Bemis, Councilor Paul Warr-King, Councilor Shirley Craddick and longtime civic volunteer Bill Willmes.

Strathern earned a bachelor's degree in political science from the university of Dayton and a master's degree in educational administration from Xavier University.

He has lived in Gresham for 13 years and is active in the Southwest Gresham Neighborhood Association and Gresham First, which is fighting a proposed Wal-Mart at Southeast 182nd Avenue and Powell Boulevard.

Strathern also serves on the Council Fire Advisory Committee and volunteered as a board member for Worksystmes Inc.

Among the issues facing Gresham, Strathern said he is concerned about the city's ability to effectively deal with overlapping governmental jurisdictions from undermining 'Gresham citizens' common good.'

As a remedy, he'd like to see two representatives on the county's five-member board of commissioners instead of one.

He is also passionate about transportation and land-use. Gresham should focus more on ensuring neighborhood livability; reducing traffic congestion, air and noise pollution, support 'smart growth' codes and protect neighborhoods from 'big-box' store abandonment like that experienced by his neighborhood when QFC removed treasured trees, set up shop and then left town.

Strathern is worried about the future loss of Gresham's share of the Multnomah County business income tax, thinks Gresham should improve its crime prevention programs and believes that city councilors should be more involved in citizen issues and provide more leadership earlier in the development process for 'big box' retail stores.

Filing deadline approaches for Gresham council races

Three Gresham City Council positions and the mayor's seat are up for grabs during the Nov. 7 general election.

So far, Gresham Mayor Charles Becker and Council President Shane Bemis have filed their candidacy for mayor.

Two council seats are totally open for the taking - Position 2, now filled by Jacquenette McIntire, who isn't running for re-election; and Position 6, Bemis' current seat.

Richard Strathern has filed to run for Position 4, now filled by Councilor David Widmark. Widmark filed in January to run for the seat but withdrew from the race in June for health reasons.

All positions are at-large, meaning candidates can live anywhere within the city limits. The positions also are for four-year terms. Candidates must be 18 years old by the election date and have lived in Gresham the year before the election.

Candidates must submit their nominations by 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24. Nominations may be submitted in one of two ways - paying a $10 filing fee or submitting a petition with the signatures of 20 registered Gresham voters.

Election manuals and forms are available in Gresham City Hall, 1333 N.W. Eastman Parkway.