Vote: Ballots due Nov. 6, 8 p.m.

October, 2018 Posted in Community, News

By Mary Owen


Collaboration between city councils and city residents is at the top of the list of fixes in most cities this November, followed by growth, budgets and development.

“Managing growth, always street and sidewalk build, maybe a neighborhood advisory group that will give the city’s neighborhoods a larger voice in administrative area problems/concerns, and better community decisions” are a few of key issues facing the city in the next two to four years, said Hank Porter, who is running for another term as mayor of Stayton.

“I have worked with city staff to work with neighboring communities on water service and supplies,” Porter said about “this potential water crisis as the ‘fish project’ of Detroit takes definitive shape. Our local concerns about downstream water flows probably means that we need to start planning some supplemental water sources for water supplies now, rather than in two, three or five years.”

Porter said the city also needs to make sure that developers understand and accept engineering development codes “so that we avoid some of the contentious development that we have experienced.”

Challenges include putting too much trust in social media, “especially things that are critical of city projects,” he said.

“Anyone can post anything, true or not, accurate or not,” he added. “Certainly we make mistakes, but these are not deliberate actions to ruin the community.”

Budget problems loom as the city continues to maintain and improve streets, sidewalks, water and sewage systems – problems that “need the cooperation of all of us,” he said.

Other challenges include: Shaff Road improvements to keep up with additional housing; ways to enhance access to area waterways; property annexation to the east and north of the city; and making sure rental properties are maintained to minimal safe housing standards.

A former educator and businessman, Porter has more than 40 years of experience in local government to bring to the table, serving three stints on city council and as mayor starting in 1974.

“I’ve tried to treat everyone with fairness and consideration,” he said. “My agenda is what is good for the community. I simply want to keep Stayton a good place to live.

“Sandi and I have made our home here for 50 years, raised our children here, worked here and loved this place,” Porter added. “It’s home!”

Running against Porter is Scott Vigil, who believes the key issues for Stayton have not changed since the city has been in existence.

“The city is responsible for providing safe, clean drinking water,” Vigil said. “The city has taken on several other responsibilities along the way, but the most important thing that the city needs to take care of is the drinking water. The Army Corps of Engineers is proposing a project that will have a direct impact on the availability of safe drinking water.

Public safety remains a key issue, and coming right out of the gate for the mayor and city council will be the city’s police contract, Vigil said.

“This will have a direct impact on the city’s police service for the next couple of years,” he said.

Several project affected by the city’s Transportation Master Plan will also be on the council’s agenda at the beginning of 2018, Vigil said.

“One of the top priorities would include Wilco Road and its intersections,” he said. “Also maintenance is a big part of taking care of what we have.”

Transparency about planning and development within the city limits is a priority, he added.

“Most people would love to see a lot more funds spend on parks and recreation,” Vigil said. “This is a very high priority for me personally, but is down on the list of responsibilities for the city. I believe that the parks and recreations should be a reflection on how well the city takes care of it main responsibilities.”

One of the main challenges will be to get everyone on the same page, Vigil said.

“There is often too much time wasted on deciding on what needs to be focused on,” he said. “I believe that the issues need to focus on what is best for the city as a whole and from there it becomes pretty clear.”

Vigil said he’d love to have the “magic answer,” but he doesn’t. What he can offer is “a positive outlook that expands beyond the glass is half full.”

“I have strong desire to work with others in a constructive environment,” he said. “I have spent a lot of time working with groups working towards common goals. As a servant leader, I’m always learning new things. I believe that listening goes far beyond not talking, and I’m an active listener. When someone is talking, I’m not just trying to think about my response. I think this is where a lot of time is wasted. I am someone who can talk to anyone.”

An automotive technician, Vigil served three years on the Stayton City Council and four years as mayor.

Stayton has three open seats on the city council up for grabs. Candidates include incumbent

Priscilla Glidewell whose top issues are: continued work on upgrading and fixing roads and infrastructure; the impact of new housing developments on the area; and upgrading and updating “the heart of our community” also known as Old Town.

“We also need to keep our community relevant for the youth growing up here,” she said.

Glidewell view challenges as funding, community consensus and community participation.

Glidewell’s strengths include being willing to listen and work toward goals that the community views as important. She also lists a proven track record of teamwork with fellow councilors and the ability “and willingness” to compromise if needed to move an issue forward.

Glidewell has a “lifetime of working for the betterment of all, including the most disenfranchised of our society,” she said.

Ralph Lewis believes managing growth is a key issue the city faces.

“We need to make it attractive for people and businesses to come to our town, not put up road blocks,” Lewis said.

Additionally, infrastructure is an issue that needs to be dealt with, he said.

“Some of our streets are falling apart and need attention,” he said.

First and foremost is to find the funds needed to attend to repairs and maintenance, he added.

“Managing the gas tax money we get from the state for that purpose is key,” Lewis said.

Lewis brings listening skills to the table as well as knowing some of the key players in town.

“I won’t be afraid to talk to people to get things moving,” he said. “I believe I work well with others and I’m willing to listen to their opinions.”

Lewis believes he works well with others, and said he is willing to listen to their opinions. A 25-year Stayton resident, Lewis formerly served on the city’s planning commission, parks commission and city council.

Paige Hook foresees putting the city’s tax dollars to work for critical infrastructure issues, including “worn-down” roads in need of major repair.

“Clearly funding and budget allocation for critical repairs is a large issue for updating our infrastructure,” Hook said. “Community education of what these costs are for all layers of infrastructure will be a challenge in order to gain full community support.”

Hook also views potential water issues from the Detroit Dam fish ladder project as a need.

“The challenges with the USACE Detroit Dam project is finding and funding an alternative water source that can sustain our community if or when the dam is drained,” Hook said. “Salem has first rights to the water from the North Santiam River, which could potentially leave us seeking water. Any solutions for this will cost the city, which in turn will cost the tax payers.”

Also important is Stayton’s affordable housing crisis, she said.

“Each of us deserves a safe, secure, habitable and affordable home with protection from large-scale and no cause evictions,” Hook said. “Many of us in our town struggle to make ends meet each month. And if this isn’t a current reality for you then you can probably draw on some memories of a time when you weren’t financially secure or can think of someone you hold dear that experiences this as their reality.”

Hook said currently the majority of Stayton residents can’t afford high-end housing.

“We need future development that matches our demographics in regards to what is financially attainable for residents,” said Hook, who, if elected, promises to work with fellow councilors to find way to encourage developers to build more affordable housing matching the character of Stayton while meeting the needs of residents.

“I will work to get more community engagement to support prioritizing infrastructure improvements which will take partnership with city staff and community leaders to push out an educational campaign to our residents,” she said. “And I will continue to trust in our city manager and city staff that they are weighing all possible options in the event we need to prepare for secondary or tertiary water sources, while engaging in discussions on progress and alternatives for our town to keep this topic at the forefront.”

Hook has served on the city’s planning commission and budget committee.

Jordan Ohrt also views infrastructure as a major priority for city council.

“We have a large area of town that not only needs the streets addressed, but also the utilities underneath,” Ohrt said. “Our water source issue at Detroit Lake needs to be a priority as well. We need to make sure that we can continue to have safe drinking water from the lake via the Santiam River and if not, we need to find another solution for our citizens. Lastly, for our town to thrive, we need strengthen our local economy.”

Ohrt is aware of the challenges of finding solutions to these issues.

“Updating infrastructure requires assessing the streets along with their specific needs and rating their priority,” he said. “Even though we have money set aside for fixing our roads, it also requires the funding to do the other utility projects at the same time.

“Our water issue is going to be tricky,” he added. “We will have to work together with other state agencies and existing state laws, and if we need to find another water source that is not going to be an inexpensive. We will need to develop a plan to raise the resources necessary to ensure all our citizens have access to clean water.”

To strengthen the local economy, Ohrt said one of the biggest challenges is the need to change the perception of Stayton and become a more business-friendly town.

“Stayton is a wonderful place to live, and I am happy to be raising my family here,” said Ohrt, a local Realtor. “I believe I will be able to help Stayton with these issues because I understand that we can only achieve our goals if we all realize we are on the same team and that we need to work together. I am a good listener and will listen to the community and be a voice for them as I have a passion to help others. I am also a fast learner and am committed to creating a community that we can enjoy right now and that future generations looking back at our work will be proud of what we accomplished.”

David Patty views including residents in deciding how to run their city as a key issue.

“Unfortunately, many people in our community lack inclusion of the local government process,” Patty said. “In my observation of council meetings, oftentimes stakeholders aren’t aware of issues that will impact them before decisions have been made. I hope to change this and bring more people to the discussion table.”

Patty believes the biggest challenge is “the right communication with the community. In this age, social media is the avenue many community members choose to interact in. I hope that Stayton will continue to meet the challenges of that new norm.”

Patty wants to bring a fresh perspective to city government.

“I would have a pragmatist fashion about my deliberation over city decisions,” he said. “At times, it appears the current council comes to meetings with a preformed decision. To me this indicates a disregard for public feedback in making their decisions. I would always wait to make my decision on city business until after hearing community input.”

Patty is an analyst or the Oregon State Police and served 10 years in the U.S. Air Force.



The mayor and two council seats are on the election slate in sublimity.

Running unopposed for mayor is Jim Kingsbury, who was born and raised on a dairy farm near Neillsville, Wisconsin. Kingsbury earned a bachelor of science degree in management from the University of Wisconsin, and worked as a manager for Shopko and other stores. He is now retired, and currently services on the Sublimity City Council.

Kingsbury and his wife, Sarah, have two boys and have lived in the city for 10 years. He is an ambassador for Donate Life Northwest and is involved in Cub Scouts Pack 50, Sublimity Parent Teacher Club, Regis Athletic Association, Parish Council at St. Boniface, and the Knights of Columbus.

“As a private citizen of our community, I am not aware of any major issues facing our community,” Kingsbury said. “I will do my best to fully research any issues that come before the city council and make the best decision possible with the information we have.”

Running for city council are Greg Atkin and Brian Schumacher.

Atkin cites development growth as the key issue Sublimity faces.

“Our small town has been growing much larger over the last few years than was previously projected,” Atkin said. “Recent developments will add additional population, which challenge our budgets, stretch our local deputy’s time addressing ordinance issues, and challenge our overall livability. We need to get a consensus on what the Cities/Citizen’s goals should be and how we can address infrastructure issues with the realities of our limited resources.”

Other issues, he said, include revenues vs. budget, overall safety, and updating the city’s Comprehensive Master Plan.

“The challenges we face include a lack of citizen involvement in the process, being able to reach a consensus with our citizens, a lack of information sharing regarding the issues that we face now and into the future, and past failures of our city officials in collaborative problem solving,” Atkin said. “Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate our unpaid and under-appreciated city employees and staff, but we haven’t been able to bring our population together to address these issues.

“The recent hiring and resignation of our city administrator highlights this divide,” Atkin said. “We need to determine if such a position is needed going forward, or if there is a way to achieve the benefits of this position in some other way.”

Atkin has been a local resident for over 25 years and has worked and volunteered in the community for over 30 years. Recently retired, Atkin said he has the time necessary to devote to bring the citizens together to solve city issues.

“My many years working as an Emergency Medical Technician, volunteer firefighter, corrections professional, father, husband and neighbor have prepared me for this role,” he said. “As a manager for the State of Oregon, I have balanced many large budgets and worked with Labor Unions to address staff and personnel issues. Having attended the Marion County Sheriff’s Citizen’s Academy, I have insight into what resources we have in our law enforcement partner that will help with current and future police contracts, livability and overall safety of our community.”

Brian Schumacher is a farmer who attended St. Boniface Grade School, Sublimity Elementary School, Regis High School and Linn-Benton Community College, where he earned his diploma in crop science.

Schumacher was unreachable at press time.


Incumbent Robert Baugh is running again for mayor, a two-year term. Baugh declined to be interviewed at this time, stating he prefers to answer questions following the election with “clarity and facts.”

Challenging Baugh is Derek Clevenger, who believes the city budget is the key issue facing the city.

“The community currently does not believe that the city government has been an intelligent steward of our tax dollars,” Clevenger said. “This is evidenced by our below normal SDCs, the need for an addition fee to fund our police department while also granting extremely generous salary increases, several of our community programs being closed down, and many of the city’s infrastructure projects having no real method of funding yet.”

Clevenger believes residents desire to see a change in the culture of Aumsville city government.

“Currently the Aumsville city government, especially the city council, is not seen as a body that is truly representative of the community,” he said. “Although the recent recall seemed to highlight this view, the city council appeared to have a largely adversarial relationship with large portions of the community.

“Finally, members of the community have been adamant that the city government update their policies and practices to 2018,” he added. “Currently, the city of Aumsville seems to be largely behind the technological power curve. Communication from the city government to the community has been sub-par and at a level that is, in my opinion, negligent of the city government’s duty to inform.”

Clevenger said the first major challenge is that addressing the city’s budget is a time intensive process. The second challenge will be prioritizing areas of the budget based on the needs and wishes of the community, he added.

Clevenger calls for a team effort in establishing good communication between residents and city government.

“Changing a perception that has been held for many years is always difficult,” Clevenger said. “If elected, it’s going to take some radical changes on my part to show the community that as mayor I will be as attentive, direct and available as I have been throughout my time working on the city council recall. Encouraging others to do the same will be vitally important as well.

“In regards to updating the city policies and practices, if I am being honest, many of the steps I plan to take are steps that the city could have taken years ago but didn’t,” he added. “I am very familiar with multiple tools the city could utilize that are extremely low cost if not free in many cases.”

Clevenger said he brings to the position a fresh perspective, “molded by a multitude of life experiences in the military, as a business owner, and working for the U.S. Government.

“However, I think the major attribute I bring to the table is a willingness to listen, a willingness to admit when I’m wrong, and a fierce desire to advocate for the community as a whole not just those who have lived here the longest,” Clevenger said.

Aumsville has three, four-year city council positions open, and the race has attracted a strong number of candidates.

Incumbent Della Seney views updating sewer systems to meet new/updated enforcement of federal and state regulations for ammonia discharge as a key issues, as well as continuing to work on water lines and upgrades needed to the city’s water system.

“Funding is the biggest challenge as Aumsville does not qualify for grants with the sewer and water systems without raising rates to median levels as required by state regulations on grants,” Seney said. “We try to be mindful of the citizens’ ability       to pay for the monthly charges as well as meeting state and federal standards.”

A life-long Aumsville resident, Seney brings to the table an understanding of city development gleaned from “previous years and the workshops and meetings I have been attending during my first term.” These skills, she said, ready her too help make “the best decisions for the city to move forward in correcting these issues.”

Incumbent Gabe Clayton said key issues Aumsville faces are similar to those in every small town, including updating utilities and roads.

“We are currently doing pretty well on our water side, but we are outdated on the sewer side,” he added. “Some of those fixes will be very expensive.”

The challenge, Clayton said, is having a “very limited pool to draw resources from” to “pay for what the town needs and what the public wants.”

“We are very fortunate to have a great staff down at city hall that do a fantastic job at finding grants and funding available,” he said. “However, most grants require matching dollars or at least a decent percentage from the city to qualify for these grants and that is tough. Repairs and replacements to a water and sewer system are not cheap. We as a city council will have to work with the city staff to find a way to pay for these needed improvements, and it won’t be easy.”

Clayton has almost 20 years of construction experience and a good understanding of “what things cost and how to get the most out of every dollar.”

“I know we can save money by doing upgrades and repairs in the proper order,” he said. “We don’t want to put in a new road and sidewalks and then turn around and cut it all up to run the utilities. We can utilize our resources by prioritizing our needs and going after the ones that are tied together.”

Incumbent Brian Czarnik sees controlled growth as a key issue. Aumsville residents want more retail, food choices and activities and less new residences, he said.

To attract more these kinds of businesses, Czarnik said the city must: provide around-the-clock police protection; update and equally apply ordinances and rules; and offer reasonable and not arbitrarily changed SDCs; and have enough residents to make a business or organization viable.

“Aumsville is now at that tipping point,” he added. “We are able to provide 24-hour police protection. Over the last year the city has been pursuing a grant to update our development ordinances, and we have begun work making our ordinances consistent and easier to use. The city has been and continues to reevaluate its SDCs on a regular basis.”

Additionally, Aumsville must continue to ensure residents are personally ready for a major disruption and that the city has plans in place to mitigate, manage, and recover from a large-scale event, said Czarnik, who started the local Community Emergency Response Team.

“This election, many candidates don’t fully understand the processes and the rules that the city must abide by,” Czarnik said. “Some campaigns have had great new ideas, but many of these ideas are already being worked on or have been done in the past. I think that we must do a much better job in educating all of our citizens of the work that is being done, how and why decisions are made, and how state regulations shape many of those discussions.”

Czarnik also said in the last year Aumsville began expanding to its urban growth boundaries, which requires a complicated and lengthy process of growth planning over the next 15 to 20 years. After state restrictions were applied, the city council decided to pause expansion until “approved development is further in the building phase, so that the city would not be penalized for lot and street sizes. We will also support efforts to reduce the states influence.”

Czarnik said many of the changes he has championed are gaining traction. As an educator, he wants to put to work the media skills gained from 20 years in the military and his current job to help the city shape its social media presence.

“I currently script, edit and produce training videos for the teams that I work with,” he said. “This is a skill that can be used to increase our engagement with our residents and would cost thousands if the city tried to pay for these services.”

Also on Czarnik’s list is to start a citizen’s academy that will teach some of the interworking of local government, including how city budgeting works and touring water and sewer plants. He started a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and is an active member of the city’s Disaster Management Board.

“As a veteran, I will continue to work to bring good jobs to our residents,” he said. “I will continue to work with a regional tourism group to ensure that Aumsville is not forgotten. Aumsville is a great place to live, and it has even greater potential, and a bright future.”

Walter Wick agrees with candidates who want to improve communication between the city council and the community it serves. Other issues are “planning what we want our town to look line in two to four years, and how we respond to housing shortages and Salem’s expansion to the east.”

Rebuilding relationships between council members is a must-do, Wick said.

“We cannot do a good job representing our town if we don’t work together with trust and good communication,” he said. “We must improve how we communicate with town members so we can get better feedback from more people when making decisions that will affect them.”

Wick has worked in public service for 32 years, the last 17 with Marion County Public Works, the last five in a leadership role.

“At the county I have been part of many constructions projects planning committees, taking the lead position on many jobs,” he said. “I am excited to bring my experience to my community. While this would be the first time serving on this type of council, my years of experience organizing projects, working with teams and my excitement to serve Aumsville makes me a great choice for this position.”

Nico Casarez also said communicating with and getting feedback from citizens is paramount to doing business as a city. He wants to tape or live stream council meetings and post the videos for people to view online.

“We need to get back to basics and change the culture of ‘if you don’t show up to a meeting or haven’t lived her for 50 years, your opinion doesn’t matter’ mentality that many feel is prevalent now,” said Casarez, who is running to promote collaboration between citizens and city officials. “We have some big issues happening fairly quickly: maintaining much needed infrastructure such our water/sewer systems, streets, supporting our local businesses and deciding which direction we are growing. These decisions require some tough conversations and we need to bring our citizens, businesses, faith-based community, and neighboring districts (fire and schools) to the table to be a part of this critical discussion. Though it’s tough to get individuals with differing opinions and priorities together, I’ve made it my priority to do my best to communicate and reach out if I am elected to serve our community.”

Teamwork and enthusiasm are personality traits Casarez brings to the position, as well as an ability to reach out and build bridges.

“It’s that sort of culture I will try to instill to ensure we do a better job of leading our community,” he said.

Angelica Ceja said Aumsville must consider if the city can sustain the needs as it grows and diversifies.
“With every new house that goes up, every multi-family dwelling built, there will be a trickle affect in our town,” Ceja said, “the wear and tear on our roads due the added traffic, the impact of increased classroom sizes and teacher student ratios, having enough busses to transport the children safely to school, and the effects of increased population will have on our water and sewer.”

Ceja cited town amenities, what the city has and does not have, will also be a vital concern as the city grows.

“We are a bedroom community,” she said. “There is little to offer for family entertainment and child programs during the school year.
Ceja also cited communication and reestablishing trust between residents and city officials is a key challenge.

‘It has been voiced many times that city only does the minimum required by law to notified the town people of change,” Ceja said. “And none of the notifications are in dual language. There is about a 15 percent Hispanic population in Aumsville, that’s roughly about 500 people according to the National Census in 2010. And that percentage was increased by 50 percent from the census before that in 2000. This year about 77 families are listed as migrant families with Spanish being the primary language in the household. This number will continue to increase as the town grows in population.

“These are people and families who pay the city fees, pay taxes, who contribute to our town’s local businesses that are being overlooked and not taken into consideration,” she added. “This past summer while volunteering at the Aumsville Clothing Closet, I met a Hispanic mother who has lived in Aumsville over a year. In my 15- minute conversation with her, she found out more about our community than the entire time she has lived here from her statements to me.”

A needed change is to respect local citizens and taken into account their concerns, she said.

“The town is divided, young and old, new residents and generational families,” she said. “This way of thinking needs to change. Every resident has a right to be heard and be treated with respect and dignity. Regardless of being a renter or homeowner, economic status, language barriers, or how long they have lived here, every resident matters.”

A former reserve police officer, Ceja said her heart is in the community.

“We have an entire community of people with different talents and abilities,” she said. “I’d like to reach out to those families and individuals and brainstorm on how we can contribute more to our community.”

Ceja has volunteered for 22 years, 16 of them as a classroom and school volunteer. She is a member of the Aumsville Parent Teacher Club, and has volunteered with her family with Salem Harvest. She taught English for the Migrant Education program and currently helps the Aumsville Clothing Closet.

Ceja served on the Department of Human Services Domestic Violence Council, and was victim’s advocate for the Marion County District Attorney. Recently, she was nominated for stewardship with SEIU Local 503 Sub-Local 392.

“A city councilor works for and represents the community,” Ceja said. “I will listen when people have concerns. I believe in transparency when implementing changes in policy, ordinances and issues that affect the town’s budget.”

Ceja also wants to develop community-based volunteer programs, working collaboratively with the schools, local businesses, residents and city officials, among other goals.

Ed Blakesley believes growth is the key issue Aumsville faces.

“I do not believe the city is prepared for the water, sewer and traffic problems that growth is going to bring,” he said. “Also the city needs to bring some small business and do not have anything or plans for any type of services to bring in or to lure small businesses. And the city desperately needs to be more transparent with the citizens of Aumsville – let them know what needs to be done to prepare for the future and listen to citizen input as to what they want and need for their community.”

Blakesley views finding what county, state and federal help is available to assist with water, sewer and traffic challenges. He wants to bring SDCs into line with the current costs, and to introduce traffic SDCs for the future of Aumsville.

Transparency and communications to Aumsville citizens, through social media, e-mail and telephone is a must, he said.

“We need to listen to their wants and needs and bring their concerns to city government to be debated and discussed and satisfied to the best of the city government’s ability,” Blakesley said. “I want to be the voice and vote of the citizens when it comes to decisions made by city government in the managing of their city.”



Running unopposed for mayor is Lloyd Valentine, who has lived in Lyons for 30 years.

“The key issues facing the city in the next two to four years include limited income to meet increasing costs to operate the city,” Valentine said.

Other key issues include finding good personnel to fill temporary positions and improving the city’s image, he added.

Valentine said the challenges to addressing these issues include: evaluating resources and expenses to determine the best use of taxpayer money; hiring and retaining qualified personnel with limited resources; and finding common ground with council members and the public.

“I have a desire to better the community and want to get input from the community

about what residents would like to see,” Valentine said. “I am willing to make changes where needed, and am confident that I can make good decisions for the community.”

Valentine is married with three children and 11 grandchildren. He attended Mari-Linn School and works as a millwright at Freres Lumber Co. He has served on the Lyons Fire District Budget Committee for the past 10 years and as Mehama Ball Park coach and assistant coach for the past five seasons. He retired after serving 20 years as a volunteer firefighter, and brought Cub Scouts to Lyons in 1986.

Jessica Ritchie, who currently serves as mayor pro-tem, will run unopposed for city council. Current seats are filled by Mark Orr and Mike Wagner.


Mill City:

Long-time Mill City resident Tim Kirsch believes in community service, being involved and interacting with citizens and community.

A businessman, Kirsch has been mayor of Mill City for 12 of the past 14 years. He also served on the board of the North Santiam Canyon Economic Development Corp. for 20 years, Mill City Lions Club over 20 years, Santiam School District budget committee for 14 years, Marion County Economic Advisory Board, Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area Advisory Council, and attended and completed the Marion County Sheriffs Citizen Academy, League of Oregon Cities Governing Basics, and various other trainings, groups, clubs and functions.

“Big issues on the horizon include our TIGER grant,” Kirsch said. “This is going to be a big deal to the city with no anticipated challenges beyond coordination.

The school district will most likely present a bond proposal to replace the antiquated junior-senior high school building. Quality schools are essential to communities and bond measures can be a challenge to pass.”

Kirsch also said there is a coordinated effort within the various communities of the North Santiam Canyon, with the assistance of Marion County, to develop waste water services throughout.

“This particular project could have many potential challenges that will take a cooperative effort from all the cities,” he said. “The first step will be to form a sewer district that will give us the numbers to apply for the grant dollars that it will take to build the affordable systems needed to serve the canyon. Mill City is currently the only city that has a system. However, it is in current need of a number of expensive upgrades and repairs.”

Kirsch said he brings to the table experience with the budgeting process and in forming the relationships with the various agencies that it takes to get projects funded and completed.

“I bring to this an understanding of the issues surrounding the obstacles to completing these tasks,” he said. “I have been successful in building strong relationships with many city, county and state leaders. I see the beauty and positive aspects of Mill City and the potential for even better things to come.”

Running unopposed for three open council seats are Janet Hall, Tony Trout and Steve Winn.


Janet Hall views as a city council priority two upcoming needs: restoration of the city’s historic railroad bridge and securing a Tiger grant to help with transportation infrastructure repair and upgrades.

Challenges may be temporary delays in the areas of road work undertaken and ensuring that personnel has what is needed to do the work, Hall said.

“I am hoping that my experience in project management may be helpful during the project,” she said.





The city of Detroit’s mayor is appointed by city council each year, and all fingers point to Mayor Jim Trett as keeping his seat.

Three incumbent candidates are running for five open city council seats, leaving two open seats.

Greg Sheppard, who serves as street commissioner, views the Detroit Lake cooling tower project as a key issue Detroit faces.

“We have to explore what effects that will have on our economy,” Sheppard said. “We are trying to get a sewer project going between Idanha and Detroit with involvement from Mill City and Gates. A sewer system would help businesses and make lots easier to build on. Septic issues have been a big deal up here, and that makes development tough.”

Finding financial help for a new sewer system will be the challenge, he said.

Also needed are funds to shave off the “benches” at the local marinas, so that in a drought year, the marinas can still float, Sheppard said.

“We need to get another 30 feet for a longer boating season,” he said.

Making use of Detroit’s recreational potential will also help the city’s economy, with such outdoor activities as skiing, snowmobiling and more,” he added.

“We need grant money to fix the city park where the old school used to be,” Sheppard said. “We want to develop a handicap accessible trail between the park and the Flats day-use area. We need funds to maintain the trail and keep both areas free to use.”

Sheppard said the city will also need to collaborate with government agencies over the use of Detroit Lake.

“We have no funds to sweep the lake free of debris,” he said of a project no longer funded by the U.S. Forest Service. “That takes about $40,000 a year, and needs to be done when debris comes down from winter storms. It’s a hazard for boaters.”

Water pollution and street improvements to the city council’s to-do list, Sheppard said.

Sheppard has served on the city council for 20 of the 39 years he has lived in the Santiam Canyon. A former forest service and state highway worker, his strengths are experience and knowledge of the area

“I am familiar with the issues,” he said.

Incumbent Shelley Engle also cited growth, water and lake issues as key issues facing the city.

“The proposed cooling tower and potential lake drawdown will irreparably harm both the city of Detroit and the Canyon,” Engle. “We have suffered drought for three years, forest fire smoke and overwrought concerns about algae blooms over the past five years. Our community will not be able to sustain another injury by the Army Corps. We have become a voice crying in the wilderness, and the fear is that the Army Corps and federal government are not listening to these voices.

“The North Santiam Joint Wastewater Project is what we are very excited about, and again pertains to water and growth,” Engle said. “The purpose of this project is to address future wastewater infrastructure needs that will help to promote quality of life, business development and regional economic resiliency. A sewer system, which will include Idanha, Detroit, Gates and Mill City, will provide the opportunity for growth and to be better stewards of the land and the ecosystems.”

Funding the system remains the greatest challenge, taking state and federal grants, watershed fees and sewer bonds to fund the project, she said.

“Water source protection is a shared concern among many communities in the North Santiam Watershed and funds will be necessary from those who benefit from the watershed,” she added. “The alternative is not putting in a system is that when septic systems or drain fields fail, the cost of septic system replacement will be higher. In some cases where lot sizes are small, shallow water table exists or has an unfavorable soil composition; new septic or occupancy permits cannot be authorized by regulation for the replacement of a septic system. This is a current reality for some properties in Detroit, Gates, Idanha, and Lyons/Mehama. Mill City is likely to need upgrades to their current wastewater system in the next decade and can benefit from a joint sewer project.”

Engle said regarding the cooling tower project, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is “not prone to listening to the needs of the community and to make change.”

“The city of Detroit will have to continue to fight for a different concept of providing cooler water for fish downstream, as well as our elected officials in Salem, Marion County and the State of Oregon,” she said. “The greatest challenge is to convince the Army Corps that the human need is the number one priority here in the Santiam Canyon and for the city of Detroit.”

Incumbent Ken Woodward recently retired and was unable to file to keep the vacated seat he filled in September. Woodward will need to be a write-in on the Nov. 6 ballot.

“I’m working hard to promote sewer updates,” Woodward said. “I’ve been involved since 2012, and a group of us have worked very hard to get it this far. We’re trying to be proactive instead of reactive, to stay in control.

“I’m an individual that’s honest, open and willing to take on the tough issues,” he added. The sewer is a touch issue, and I’m not done yet.”

Woodward was instrumental in getting the city Firewise status, working with the U.S. Forest Service to clean debris from city boundaries to enable firefighters to react faster and more efficiently to wildfires in the area.

“A lot of landfill needs to be cleaned up,” he said. “The community needs to be educated so that people will help out.”

As with most running for city council, Woodward advocates for improved communication.

“I’ve always been for the citizens,” he said. “Now that I’m retired, I walk around and ask what’s needed. I listen to the public. They have ideas but they don’t always have anyone representing them” at city council meetings.

Incumbent John Manthe was unavailable for comment at time of publication.

According to the Detroit City Charter, the first four candidates with the highest number of votes receive four years on the council and the other three get two years.



A surprising lack of candidates leaves Gates without a prospective mayor and candidates to fill the two city council seats.

“Nobody is running for office,” said Kathy Sherman, who served 11 years as mayor and is not looking to serve again.


Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.