Baker City Council endorsements

November 06, 2006 12:00 am

If you've waited until the last day to vote, you're not alone. We also pondered the city council race until the last moment, along with the variety of scenarios that would emerge with differing candidates as council members.

This year's election will nearly completely change the composition of the city council. The only two of seven councilors who are not challenged with re-election or term limits this year and will remain in office are Jeff Petry and Sam Bass.

The good news is that unlike many past elections, there is a full slate of candidates on the ballot who actively want to be city councilors. In past elections write-in candidates were drafted for duty when there were more council slots available than candidates seeking office.

Two of those candidates, Dick Fleming and Davey Peterson, have said that they will not serve if elected. Current councilor Dick Haynes chose not to actively campaign, which meant that he declined to return a city council questionnaire for the Herald's voters guide or an endorsement interview with the editorial board.

Of the seven candidates who we met with and are eligible for our endorsement, we looked for a "dream team" — five people who would bring different strengths and viewpoints to the council while exhibiting respect for other opinions and an overall willingness to represent the public they would serve rather than a personal agenda. We looked for a slate of candidates who would not create voting blocs, but would discuss, listen and work together to forge solutions. In some cases, we chose not to endorse both of two candidates who shared similar constituencies and opinions in order to create more breadth of representation on our "team."

Although you can vote for five, we offer four picks who represent different segments of our community, and who we think could work together on a city council:

Andrew Bryan heads the list as a candidate who is not only interested in serving on the council, but asked to be a part of the city manager selection committee in order to create working relationships with current councilors should he be elected. He feels that a slow approach to changing systems or ordinances would benefit the city by allowing things time to work before throwing them out, and feels that the city is ready for calm governance after a tumultuous period of change.

Robert Collins works for Jeff Petry, which initially sent up red flags. But he tells us that he's an independent thinker and won't fear for his job if he votes against his employer. He represents part of the community that is reliant on smooth building, planning and utility services to make a living. His was the only solution to dogs in the park question that split the difference: make a section that allows dogs and one that doesn't.

Terry Schumacher has been a principal in Trails West Insurance for many years, and recently has contributed to the revival along Resort Street by renovating the Crown Courtyard. He is on the BEGIN board and an advocate of growing our own economic development by helping current business owners grow their businesses. He claims he has no dog in the fight, and would come to city council with no agenda but to see that the city is prepared to grow.

Gail Duman is a small business owner and mother who has expressed willingness to serve on city council after working on the HBC board. She would like to foster more public comment and communication, and hire a city manager who facilitates bridging gaps between public boards and governments. She represents working families and small businesses that would like to see issues like those with the Eltrym worked out before they become community problems.

Both Bev Calder and Dennis Dorrah are successful business people who have served on city council before, during time of dissension, some of that with one another. While we think the council experience and dedication of both candidates could be beneficial to a new council, the idea of a completely new council with no preconceived notions and no prior personal conflicts is appealing.

Ed Chance also is well-meaning, but as a former city public works employee tends to focus on the daily doings of the public works department and managers in other departments. He may have ideas for cost savings and valid concerns about operations, but we would like to have a team that looks ahead to set the course for the ship instead of looking to re-rig the sails while under way.

The top five candidates will move forward to city council. We encourage you above all to choose those who you feel can represent you by working well with the certain variety of viewpoints and opinions that will comprise the new city council.