Gresham voters can choose among three community activists with varying degrees of experience in the race for City Council Position 6, which is being vacated by mayoral candidate Shane Bemis.

Our endorsement goes to Carol Nielsen-Hood, Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, because her professional and volunteer work has given her deep knowledge of the community and the skills necessary to be an immediate contributor on the council.

Nielsen-Hood has some tough competition, especially from longtime local dentist John Kilian, who also has shown a willingness to give back, both professionally and personally. Kilian raises pertinent issues in this race, including his focus on making Gresham more business-friendly.

We also appreciate Kilian's recognition that some projects in Gresham are crying out for greater support from the city and the community at large. The Gradin Sports Park and Gresham Center for the Arts can use the community push that Kilian might provide.

On balance, however, we believe that Nielsen-Hood has many of the same interests - especially as they relate to business - and a proven ability to accomplish tasks in a volunteer capacity. She is a former member of the Mt. Hood Community College board of directors, a member of Gresham Soroptimists and a regular participant in community projects ranging from the Gresham centennial celebration to the Healing Field that was erected in memory of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Some people may be concerned that Nielsen-Hood will have a conflict of interest between her chamber role and her council post. But after discussing this issue with her at length, we are convinced that she will excuse herself from any votes that might present a conflict. We are further comforted by her assurance that she expects to retire from her chamber job well before the end of her council term.

A third candidate in this race - Bryant Lister, a member of the Police Advisory Committee - exhibits good motivations and a sensitivity to issues important to Rockwood. But he needs more community-volunteer experience before he is ready for the City Council.

That makes this a race between Kilian and Nielsen-Hood. In a close call, The Outlook recommends that Gresham voters elect Nielsen-Hood.

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