Mayor, council field set for Dundee elections
If you're a voter in Dundee, casting your mail-in ballot in the November general election couldn't be much simpler: there are four open seats and four individuals running.
Coming off back-to-back two-year terms as mayor, realtor David Russ will not face a challenger for his spot on the council.
The four-year terms of three council members – Storr Nelson, Doug Pugsley and Ted Crawford – will conclude at year's end. Nelson and Crawford have filed for re-election, but Pugsley has not. The seats of the three remaining councilors – Kristen Svicarovich, Jeannette Adlong and Tim Weaver – are not up for re-election this year.
Patrick J. Kelly, a cellar manager with a bachelor's degree in business administration and finance from the University of Oregon, is the lone newcomer on the ballot. Kelly, who served a four-year stint on the city's budget committee that ended in 2017, did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
Nelson, general manager of Signature Paving Services in Newberg, said in an email interview that his drive to continue in small-town government stems from his job.
"My construction experience, I believe, is a valuable asset to Dundee," the 52-year-old said. "Much of the city's expenditures are for construction-related improvements and repairs to our infrastructure."
Nelson said a pair of challenges await the reconfigured council when it convenes in January: managing the city's urban renewal district and ensuring "the city's interests are considered and included with development of the Riverside District (the area between Dundee and the Willamette River)."
Ultimately, he said, the council's primary function is "to provide policies for the effective and efficient delivery of city services and to provide oversight of the city manager, professional staff, consultants and committees."
Nelson noted the current council works well together, adding that "each of us brings a unique perspective to our deliberations and what makes us 'click' and work well together in that no one has an ax to grind or an agenda. We all have the city's best interest at heart and, ultimately, we make the best decisions for the city."
Having served on the council for 16 years, Nelson found the prospect of running for higher office quite humorous, as he has no such "aspirations."
Crawford has served on the council for a decade and was the city's mayor for two terms. The 49-year-old patent attorney also had a four-year stint on the planning commission and is a shareholder in a small virtual law firm with nine attorneys in six states.
"I am driven to help my community establish and maintain a sense of identity that is unique to Dundee and matches the identity people wanted when they grew up or moved here," he said. "This includes embracing our location in the heart of wine country, but not letting the wine industry control our total identity. Dundee was a city for nearly 100 years before it became a wine destination and its identity needs to reflect both its past heritage as well as its growing importance to Oregon's wine industry."
He added that his business acumen is a good fit for the council as well, saying "I am also driven by a desire to share my knowledge in business, law and management to help guide the city to a smart, sustainable growth strategy that does not overburden current residents for the sake of future growth."
Crawford concurred with Nelson that growth and development will loom large on the council's radar going forward.
"Development on the riverside of Dundee will be a primary issue for decades," he said. "The hillside of Dundee is nearly completely developed. The riverside, when developed, could more than double Dundee's population."
However, he said, other issues will draw the council's attention as well.
"Drinking water sources need to be secured to allow for this growth," Crawford said. "Current water sources may only support half of the growth expected on the riverside. The city needs to proactively secure additional water sources before a lack of water constrains new development on the riverside."
Crawford emphasized that wise stewardship of urban renewal district funds will be key to bringing these projects to fruition.
"The urban renewal district just started to collect tax revenue," Crawford said. "Potential projects in the urban renewal plan had expected costs that far exceeded expected tax revenue. So what this means is that wise decisions need to be made to choose to fund projects that have the greatest positive impact for Dundee's development along 99W. So key decisions will likely be made over the next four years that will determine how successful the urban renewal district will be in stimulating development."
Crawford mirrored Nelson's sentiment that the council is effective and worked well with each other.
"The current council has a nice mix of different perspectives," he said. "We are all conscious of each other's opinions and there is no single councilor that tries to dominate any single discussion or important decision. However, we often defer to councilors that have more knowledge of a given subject under discussion. For example, one of our councilors is an asphalt engineer by trade. We often give him more weight in decisions related to paving and maintaining streets in Dundee. … Another councilor is a retired police officer. That councilor's insights related to the Newberg-Dundee Police Department are valuable."
Crawford ruled out, for now, aspirations to higher office. "(My) career is too demanding to take the time that would be needed to be an effective office holder at a higher level," he said. "That is the primary reason why I did not run for a third term as mayor of Dundee."
Russ, who answered a query about his age with the comment "I have not aged much since taking the job," listed his occupation as a realtor and controller. His reasons for continuing to serve in small town government were simple, yet humorous: "I love Dundee. I also have not been elected to Congress yet."
Russ said the primary issues facing the council are managing budgets in the face of growth and maintaining the autonomy of the city's fire department.
He also praised the effectiveness of the council: "This council is one of the best and most collaborative teams I have ever worked with. Even when we have disagreements on how to rule on things, we always find a middle ground."
Russ said he views the council as a board of directors for the city. "Just like any corporation the board makes steering and high-dollar decisions for the entity," he said. "The board also can represent the entity to other cities … in efforts to develop advantageous relationships."
As to aspirations to higher office, he concluded "Yes, it is the path that is in question."