Suzan Turley wants to utilize her experience in finance and government

"I like to learn, and it's important to give back to people,' says newly appointed City Councilor Suzan Turley.

She will bring a wealth of civic experience to her new role, following her April 2 appointment by the City Council to a term that ends this year.

In addition to her civic experience, Turley has a background in finance, which also should come in helpful as the council finalizes the 2008-09 budget this spring and deals with other financial matters.

As for why she is an active volunteer and applied for a seat on the council, Turley said, "I was raised that way. My siblings are also active, and my parents were involved in politics.

"If you don't vote, you have no right to complain."

Previously in La Grande, Turley served 12 years on the city council and was the first woman mayor, a post she held for four years. During that time, Turley observed that more people would come out for a proposal to license cats than they did for budget hearings.

"We have infrastructure issues here in King City," Turley said. "I'm all for increased growth, but it should be controlled growth. Water, sewer and other infrastructure need to be taken into consideration as we grow. You have to look at all sides of things."

Turley was born in California, raised in Idaho and married an Oregonian, which brought her here. They lived in Ontario and Lincoln City before Turley, who worked for First Interstate Bank, which became Wells Fargo, was transferred to La Grande.

After 17 years of marriage, Turley's husband passed away, and she went to work for the state at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande.

From there, she went to work for Oregon Health and Sciences University, where she was registrar and director of financial aid for three years.

Next was a job in Portland with the Oregon Department of Justice, where Turley registered and audited charities.

"I always loved working with people," said Turley, who moved from downtown Portland to Summerfield before moving to King City about 2½ years ago.

Turley hasn't let grass grow under her feet as she still works part time for a bank in Tualatin and is a volunteer extraordinaire.

As one of 20 members of the AARP national volunteer performance team and the only one in Oregon, Turley is a trained facilitator and travels all over the United States

As a community-impact facilitator, she does work for many non-profit organizations and recently got back from a trip to South Carolina for AARP.

Volunteering for the state office of AARP, which no longer represents just retired people, Turley also does speaking engagements and trains people as needed.

Turley is a member of the Sunrise Toastmasters, which meets in downtown Portland, and she works with beauty pageant contestants to improve their public speaking and has volunteered for Special Olympics.

On yet another front, Turley serves as the public member on the Board of Directors for the Association of Social Work Boards, where she is liaison to 10 states.

"In my spare time, I sit around," Turley joked.

Actually, while serving on the City Council, Turley hopes to draw out opinions from a wide range of people instead of just the "vocal minority."

"Somehow, we need to get opinions and ideas from everyone - not necessarily those who complain," she said. "I don't mean to sound negative, but I really want to hear different viewpoints."

Turley noted that "all Oregon cities are in (financial) trouble. Funding is sort of a three-legged stool - you have money coming from the (government), taxes and fees, and LIDS (local improvement districts), bonds and grants.

"If people are not willing to pay for things, the City Council must come up with solutions. People don't have any idea how restricted funds are - you can't just transfer them from one account to another. It's a matter of communication and education."

Turley isn't afraid of criticism: "You develop elephant skin in public office," she said. "I want to leave a mark for the better."

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