The six Baker City Council members will have four applicants to choose from when they meet next week to fill the vacancy created when Ken Gross announced that he was moving away for work and would have to resign.
Four people applied for the position — Jason Spriet, James C. Thomas, Richard Haynes Jr. and Larry Morrison.
The six councilors will meet with the applicants during a work session tonight at 5:30 at City Hall, 1655 First St. The Council is slated to pick Gross’ replacement during its regular meeting, set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14, also at City Hall.
The new councilor will serve through the first meeting in 2021. The seat on the Council will be open for election in November, with the winning candidate then serving a two-year term starting in January 2021.
(Although Gross was elected in November 2018 to a four-year term starting Jan. 1, 2019, the city charter requires that when a vacancy on the council is filled more than 90 days before the next general election — which is the case here — the appointed councilor serves only until the first Council meeting in the year following the election. In this case that means the first meeting in January 2021.)
Following are excerpts from each candidate’s application:
Richard Haynes Jr.
Haynes, who is retired, wrote that he wants “to help Baker City continue to offer a high quality of life and grow in a responsible way that benefits all citizens of our community.”
Haynes’ late father, Dick Haynes, served on the City Council and promoted many civic projects.
Richard Haynes also included with his application a petition of support for his candidacy signed by 18 city residents.
Morrison, a retired teacher and small business owner, is a 1968 Baker High School graduate. He served two terms as a city councilor in Island City before moving back to Baker City.
“Being away for 35 years I could share ideas from other areas,” Morrison wrote in his application. “Also I would appreciate the opportunity to give back to the community I grew up in.”
Spriet, who is the East Region manager for the Oregon Water Resources Department, wrote in his application that he wants to “build positive relationships with the city employees as well as the citizens of Baker City” and to “develop transparency between citizens and city functions.”
Spriet, who grew up in Baker City and has served on the Baker County Planning Commission, wrote that he believes his “experience and professional career in the city has given me a unique perspective that can positively influence the community.”
James C. Thomas
Thomas, a maintenance worker at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, is a Baker High School graduate and a former City Council member, having been elected to a four-year term in the November 2014 election.
“If appointed to fill the remainder of the open position, I believe I would be an asset to the Council because I already have knowledge of how the Council works,” Thomas wrote in his application.
Thomas also has served on the city’s Public Works Advisory Council.
He resigned in August 2018, two days after pleading guilty to driving under the influence of intoxicants in June 2019.
In his application Thomas wrote that “a major lapse in judgement forced me to resign.”