Former publisher gets council nod to serve out term vacated by Lisa Smith
Art Heerwagen is unaccustomed to life at the front end of a camera lens.
As 13-year owner and publisher of the South County Spotlight newspaper, and a prior decade-spanning career that included involvement at some level in news publications, his forte has been posing questions, not answering them.
That's all about to change.
On Monday, the 67-year-old Heerwagen beat out five applicants to serve out the City Council seat vacated in late October. The position runs through Dec. 31, 2010.
'This is really strange,' Heerwagen said after the council announced its decision following a 3-1 vote. Councilor Larry Meres was the dissenting council member, casting his weight behind candidate Ron Cairns, the 55-year-old project manager for Bridgetown Printing in Portland.
Councilors Charles Judd and Donna Gedlich were absent.
Each of the six applicants took the brunt of a roughly 15-minute question session from the council. The questions touched on visionary goals for the city to personal interests and input on how to spark more community involvement.
(When asked to offer something the council would have no knowledge about, Heerwagen revealed the he had once tried out for the Denver Broncos football team as a linebacker.)
Heerwagen and his wife, Sally, retired from the newspaper business in April, when the couple sold the paper to Pamplin Communications.
An avid bicyclist, Heerwagen said the diminishing charm of a slowed retirement life prompted him to renew his role in public life.
'I can't sit and twiddle my thumbs. I can't do that,' he said. 'I've got to be busy.'
The councilors said they were impressed with the applicant pool.
'This was really hard,' Councilor Judie Ingham said.
Ingham, who has been through the process before with the appointment of Jeff Bernhard, said it was a tough decision.
'Every candidate up here had great answers,' Bernhard said.
Meres, who ran unopposed in the 2006 election, questioned why six people turned out to be considered for the council appointment, while interest in an open seat was lackluster in the prior election season.
'I find it interesting that at election time there was no interest, and an open seat comes up and we have six people,' Meres said.
The council passed a resolution Monday to name the 17-acre park located on JP West Road 'Scappoose Veterans Park.' The name was suggested by Scappoose High School student Amanda Becker, whose name will be engraved into a plaque at the park entrance.
A road accessing the park, and currently identified on planning maps as 'NE 5th Street,' is expected to be renamed 'Captain Roger Kucera Drive, in honor of a local Vietnam veteran. Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4362 initially advocated for the park to be named after Kucera.