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ELECTION 2012: St. Helens council race draws familiar faces

There will be some familiar faces in the line-up of St. Helens city council candidates in the November election.

Mayor Randy Peterson and Council Member Keith Locke will be running again for their respective seats. Patrick Martyn, whose term also expires this December, is not running again, but two candidates have filed to replace him.

One candidate, Warren “Skip” Baker served as St. Helens’ city planner for nearly 13 years before becoming community development director for the city from 2007 to 2010. He is now retired.

Among other governmental experience he cites, the former U.S. Air Force Pilot and Vietnam veteran says he has been a member of various county, city and health district and school district subcommittees over the years.

“Citizens want their elected officials to be qualified and trustworthy as well as educated and experienced,” Baker wrote in his candidate statement.

His priorities are fiscal conservatism, teamwork, building a business-friendly city and listening and responding to citizens.

Baker’s competition for the council seat is Virginia “Ginny” Carlson, a business owner and mother. She also works at Riverside Training Centers with adults who have intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Carlson served previously on the St. Helens Tourism Committee and the Entrance Sign Committee.

In her candidate statement, she says she believes in what the community can become.

“I am ready to work shoulder to shoulder with each of you for a stronger community for all of our families,” she said.

Mayor Peterson has served on the city council for over 20 years and has been mayor since 2003. When former St. Helens city administrator Chad Olsen left for another job, Peterson took on the duties of interim c ity administrator until a replacement was found.

Incumbent Locke, a retired B oise Paper Mill employee and former owner of the St. Helens Computer Center, has served on the council since 2000.

Measures feature police levy

St. Helens city voters will also weigh in on a proposed local option police levy this election.

The levy would tax St. Helens property owners $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value over a period of five years beginning in the 2013-14 fiscal year. The city estimates the tax would collect over $3 million.

The St. Helens Police Department wants to use the money to fund four new officer positions, a police evidence technician, a records specialist and the purchase of equipment and training.

According to Lt. Terry Moss, the department has been understaffed for years and currently employs 16 sworn officers. If the levy passes, this would bring the department’s sworn officer numbers back to 20 — the number employed in 2008.

The other measure on the November ballot is a proposed revision to St. Helens’ city charter.

The revised document maintains the city administrator position and a commission form of government — a past revision rejected by voters sought to change that job to “city manager,” giving more authority to the city administrator — and clarifies ambiguities regarding city procedures in the 1968 Charter. It also outlines a selection process for filling vacant positions and removing city council members.

The city charter amendments, and other election documents, can be found under the “Links” sidebar at www.ci.st-helens.or.us/services/city-recorders-office.

The current charter can be viewed at www.ci.st-helens.or.us/services/city-council under the “Resources” sidebar, or by visiting City Hall, 265 Strand St.

This story has been corrected from an earlier version. The city of St. Helens has a commission form of government, not a strong mayor form.