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Out of eight candidates, none satisfy Fairview Council


Members deadlock on five candidates; push decision off to voters

Fairview City Councilors interviewed eight candidates Wednesday evening seeking to fill the vacant position on council, but when it came down to a vote on five final candidates, councilors could not agree on a single person, deadlocking the vote 3-3 each time.

“This is really not getting us anywhere,” Council President Lisa Barton Mullins said.

Instead, the council decided in a 5-1 vote to not appoint anyone, letting voters pick Nov. 4 — 10 months from now.

The council nominated and voted on the following candidates, Renaye Delano, Ted Tosterud, Ted Kotsakis, Ronald Muro and Keith Kudrna, before abandoning the effort to make the appointment. Other candidates were Brian Cooper, Garth Everhart and Balwant Bhullar, the last two left before the vote.

Councilors Steve Prom, Dan Kreamier and Tami Arnold voted yes each time Barton Mullins, Mayor Mike Weatherby and Councilor Steve Owen voted no — or vice versa — forming two distinct voting alliances.

Weatherby said he predicted this might happen and was disappointed the council couldn’t come to an agreement on the number of “talented” and “very qualified” candidates interviewed, “but it is what it is,” he said.

During interviews, candidates were questioned on their background and motivations for joining the council, whether they’ve had prior relationships with council members, their experience and knowledge related to serving on council, and their top goals and priorities if they should be appointed.

Candidates also were asked what challenges Fairview faces in the short and long term.

Challenges discussed included budget and staffing restraints, locating funds for a 16th police officer, increasing revenue, developing vacant land in Fairview and the riverfront, expanding public-private partnerships and overcoming rifts on council.

A few people who had experience working with the city showed prospect.

Keith Kudrna has served on the city’s planning commission since 2007, working on projects such as sign code amendments and wetland protection. He also had been on the budget committee and most recently, the mayor’s visioning committee.

“I believe in being a part of something that’s bigger than myself and making it better,” Kudrna said. His goals were to reinstitute city staff positions lost in the recession, and reach out to the community by bringing back movies in the park. “An essential part (of being on council) is listening to what the public wants,” Kudrna said.

Other candidates had no prior city government experience or interaction with city councilors, but had retired from the private sector and offered unique skills and business experience.

Retired from medical industry sales, Ted Tosterud said, as the former director of operations for a multi-billion dollar entity, he’s managed huge budgets and dealt with having to decide between raising revenues and cuts to services, and often chose the latter. Tosterud said he supports public-private partnerships and tax increases for a 16th Fairview police officer.

Ronald Muro started his life in the private sector and worked for a Fortune 500 company in marketing. Later in life, he owned a chain of grocery stores in East County. For the last seven years, he’s been teaching at Clackamas Community College. He’s also a trained mediator.

“One thing practiced in mediation is to be completely neutral,” Muro said. “I think that’s a real plus for me and I think it would be a plus for City Council.”

Muro, a marketing expert, said Fairview, “a real gem,” should see itself as upscale and develop its limited space and riverfront to mirror Lake Oswego or Portland’s Pearl District.

“We need to expand our services and collect more money doing it,” said the self-described socially liberal, fiscal conservative.

Another candidate, Ted Kotsakis, a retired Clark College teacher and government employee, said he’s worked in the public sector “forever,” starting in higher education, then at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, writing rules and regulations for the government and Legislature. He also is trained in mediation, negotiation and collective bargaining.

Kotsakis, who has sat on Fairview’s Public Safety and Advisory Committee before, said his goal as a councilor would be to, “Try to not fit in with the group, but work with the group to make tough decisions.”

Kotsakis said he supports greater transparency for citizens who don’t come to Council meetings or read the agendas to find out what decisions were made.

Barton Mullins said she was impressed with the quality of the candidates.

“It’s too bad,” she said. “We didn’t just have one or two, we had eight quality people.”

Barton Mullins said not appointing a seventh councilor is going to make getting things done over the next year difficult.

“I really believe there is a trust issue between several of the councilors or maybe the whole council, and we really need to get over that,” Barton Mullins said. “Or it will be a 3-3 split on everything for the rest of the year.”