Candidates, in their own words, speak on bettering Scappoose
Candidates for three Scappoose City Council seats see an importance in prepping the city for the future.
Through sound economic growth policies, a focus on the people, and finding a solid footing for upcoming challenges, the candidates have expressed an urge to lead Scappoose into a grander tomorrow.
Last week, The Spotlight asked the five candidates incumbents Donna Gedlich and Jeff Erickson, as well as new challengers Marty Baldwin, Barb Hayden and Jason David Meshell to respond via email to a number of questions regarding their hopes to be elected Nov. 6 to the six-seat council. Mayor Scott Burge is running for reelection unopposed.
The Spotlight received written answers from Erickson, Baldwin and Meshell. Hayden said because of serious family health issues she was unable to respond by deadline. Gedlich did not respond to email messages by deadline.
Here are some of the candidates responses on a number of topics in their own words.
Why run for city council?
Baldwin: Becoming involved and investing time in fact-finding, understanding current issues from all sides, and making fair and honest decisions will benefit Scappoose. My professional business budgeting background and character based decisions solidifies a proven lifetime of unselfish service, honest representation, and ethical choices.
Erickson: The past four years have been very interesting and dynamic within Scappoose. We have seen new businesses and services come into town and have even ushered in a new roadway, 2nd Street, which allowed for more opportunity and access for residents in a large portion of the community. Overall, the last four years have been a rough road for most folks, but the community managed to come through. I wanted to take and build upon the experiences I have had these last four years and help Scappoose succeed into the future.
Meshell: I still get goose bumps when I hear the National Anthem at Scappoose High School, and believe the best way for me to serve my country is to volunteer my time to the local community that I have been a part of for the last 34 years. The best government is that which is closest to the people, and I want the citizens of Scappoose to have an effective, creative, problem solving council that works smarter and harder for its citizens.
What would your top proprieties be if you take office?
Baldwin: Reviewing and dissecting the city budget and making common sense choices about which programs included in the strategic long range plan can be implemented (or tabled based on income and expense projections) is paramount.
Erickson: Two things I want to see grow in the community are the development of more family wage earning jobs and more opportunities for recreation within the community. With rising fuel costs, solid wage earning jobs allow for local employment thus giving them more money in their pocket. Plus, increasing the recreational opportunities of all ages, especially youth, benefits the community as a whole.
Meshell: Prioritize every dollar collected and spent by the city to support a clear 20 year vision of improving our vibrant community. This includes immediately improving partnerships and services with other entities that Scappoose citizens pay taxes on, including the Scappoose School District, Columbia County and the State of Oregon.
What challenges does Scappoose face in the future?
Baldwin: The current tax base in the city will be a driving factor in what we can achieve in our strategic long range plan and year-to-year balancing of the budget. This base can be buoyed by attracting new and responsible business to our community into existing vacant commercial real estate space and by being part of the expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary.
Erickson: The single biggest challenge I see is the correct and well orchestrated development of the Urban Growth Boundary. With an expansion around the airport, we allow an entire sector of employers the opportunity to increase their footprint in the community and possibly invite more to join them. This being said, a balance must be struck with logistics and practicality allowing for the best possible development of the airport area.
Meshell: As an active member of the Scappoose budget committee for the past two years, I have seen firsthand that expenses to run the city are outpacing revenues. We need creative solutions fast! Just because things have always been done a certain way, doesnt mean its the best course for Scappoose in the near future. Preserving our meaningful traditions while challenging status quo needs to be a priority for the next council.
What are your thoughts on a recent council decision?
Baldwin: The question of fluoride in the drinking water of Scappoose is both strongly supported and at the same time opposed by local citizens, professionals, and business owners. ... This makes the issue a personal choice (by household) as it relates to fluoridating our water supply a key ballot measure in 2013. The delay of that decision however by the Council, even though they had been advised by the City Manager to place the question on the ballot at earlier council meetings so it would appear on the Nov. 6, 2012 ballot was tabled. The impact of that non-decision will cost Scappoose thousands of dollars to include the question on the March 2013 ballot in comparison to its appearance on the November 2012 ballot which would have had NO cost attached.
Erickson: One topic I disagree with is the issue regarding water rate increases. While I understand there is a large amount of debt which must be addressed, I feel all options should be investigated before we go ahead and simply keep turning up the rates. In this tight economy, many private businesses, both large and small, have had to look and turn within to find solutions to their financial woes. Creative budgeting solutions are often utilized and all options must be explored before a decision is made to take more money out of the pocket books and budgets of the residents forever.
Meshell: I agreed with the decision of the council to follow my recommendation to work with Columbia County to design and build water lines into the new bridge infrastructure on JP West, instead of relocating the lines through Veterans Park. This decision saved the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Its a great example of creativity and common sense coming together at the council level.