Local Candidates Speak Up!: Corvallis City Councilors and Benton County Commissioners

November’s election means a great deal to our community—twelve local candidates run opposed for positions in either the City Council or the County Commission. The Corvallis Advocate asked each of these candidates a series of questions concerning their relevant personal and political views. Candidate responses to these questions were (hypothetically) limited in word number, and are listed in alphabetical order based on last name. Please also be sure to research each of these candidates independently—the responses below are but a glimpse into their unique, mostly thoughtful, but sometimes completely nuts, personalities and propensities. We wish each of our local candidates the best of luck in their campaigns!

Question 1: What is the most important issue facing Corvallis in the near future?

Candidates for City Council

Ward 5

Mike Beilstein

Mike Beilstein (incumbent): The housing shortage is Corvallis’s biggest challenge. This was a problem long before OSU added 5,000 students in three years. Corvallis is a center of employment drawing about 16,000 commuters daily. Many commuters would choose to live in Corvallis and save on transportation costs if affordable housing were available. Low-cost housing is “used-up” by the influx of new students, who are competing with low-income residents for rental housing.

 

 

 

Kenny Davidson

Kenneth Davidson: The City of Corvallis will face a $2 million shortfall. I believe the City can avoid putting a stop-gap levy on the ballot by renegotiating contracted services, reviewing purchasing practices, researching new vendors for required insurance coverage, and identifying unneeded equipment and inventory.

 

 

Ward 6

Joel Hirsch

Joel Hirsch (incumbent): There are three: 1.) Revenue: We need to deal with the State’s paralyzing problems of Props 5 and 50, and PERS. 2.) OSU’s growth: housing, parking, infrastructure. 3.) Comp Plan and Land Development Code updates. These were last updated in 1998! Development here must incorporate sustainability and must be compatible.

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Redman

Steve Redman: The lack of entry-level housing for people that work here. Currently there are approximately 3,000 people who work here, but don’t live here. If we could get even 10 percent we’d be on the right path to solving our financial issues and not have to make deep cuts to the budget.

 

 

 

 

 

Ward 7

John Detweiler

John H. Detweiler: The most important issue is encouraging business to come here, stay here, and expand here. Without more business we risk becoming completely dependent upon OSU. Two other issues that are very important are living within our means and living with the OSU expansion without destroying the livability of Corvallis.

 

 

 

 

Bruce Sorte

Bruce Sorte: How to maintain the attributes of Corvallis that make it such a wonderful place given the budget constraints caused by the reductions at HP and a stagnant economy that will probably persist for a long time. We need to improve our decision processes to better encourage bold and creative ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Woods

Paul Woods: Loss of property tax revenue from HP. The other large employers, OSU and the hospital, don’t pay property taxes. I think current budget woes can be traced to this. So, we need to restore our tax base by encouraging a diverse set of Corvallis-born companies to grow and stay here.

 

 

 

 

 

Candidates for County Commissioner

Position 2

Timothy Dehne

Timothy L. Dehne – Pacific Green Party: OSU needs decent, affordable housing for its students. I approve of requiring incoming freshmen to live on campus. Off-campus housing designed for students should discourage use of a personal vehicle.

Corvallis could use more affordable housing for its work force. I am sure significant numbers of workers commute from outlying, more affordable communities. But if these folks could move here I am sure they will want quieter neighborhoods than we have at present with all the students here.

The main issue, now and into the future, is water. The quantity and quality of water, the continuing cost of maintaining the infrastructure, are rapidly becoming an overriding issue.

Jay Dixon

Jay Dixon – Democrat (incumbent): The most important issue facing Corvallis and Benton County is jobs and the economy. To that end, we have partnered with Corvallis in the hiring of an Economic Development Manager who will work on our behalf to keep the jobs we have, grow new jobs, and recruit new private sector employers to our county.

 

 

 

 

 

Jerry Jackson

Jerry J. Jackson, Sr. – Republican/Independent: I am here to represent the concerns of Benton County’s citizens above the concerns of special interests and partisan politics and to foster cooperation between county government, cities and rural areas.

 

 

 

 

 

Position 3

Annabelle Jaramillo

Annabelle Jaramillo – Democrat/Independent (incumbent): Continuing revenue shortfalls will be the city’s biggest challenge this next year. As expenses continue to rise and revenues remain flat, the city will have to identify its funding priorities. Most local governments face the same issues.

 

 

 

 

 

Betsy Close

Betsy Close – Republican: I believe that decreasing revenues coupled with an over-reliance on Oregon State University for our local employment is short-sighted and may lead to rising unemployment in the future. This is because much of OSU is state-funded and those revenues are decreasing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question 2: If you could (hypothetically) change three things the City Council or County Commission has done, what would they be?

Candidates for City Council

Ward 5

Mike Beilstein (incumbent): 1.) The special operating levy passed by voters in 2011 guaranteed that further budget cuts would be needed, while the quality of City services declined. The Council should have sent the voters a levy that would have maintained a higher level of services. 2.) The Council should have never allowed the formation of an Enterprise Zone, and should have stuck to the traditional approach of providing good quality municipal services. 3.) The Council should have maintained full funding of the “sustainability” positions in the 2012-13 budget.

Kenneth Davidson: 1.) Reverse the cuts to the parks, libraries, and livability budgets. 2.) Clean up the zoning code. Recently, a landowner was forced to evict two businesses because of a zoning misunderstanding; the Council should have taken action to avoid these evictions. 3.) Aggressively pursue affordable housing developments. Recent development has ignored the need for family housing—and the lack of family housing adds to traffic and parking issues.

Ward 6

Joel Hirsch (incumbent): 1.) The last levy should have been a bit bigger; the community would have supported it—it would have made a huge difference allowing the city to maintain services, and facilitated a more sustainable budget. 2.) We stopped videotaping and broadcasting Council meetings. They are back on now with the advent of our great new City Manager. 3.) Because of budget constraints the Council decided to stop serving lunches for Council meetings.

Steve Redman: 1.) Not spend all of the six million in reserves they had a few years ago. 2.) Not consider the “bag ban” a high priority issue; it’s important, but we have bigger problems. 3.) Not drag out the City/OSU Collaboration over a three-year period.  Time is of the essence!

Ward 7

John H. Detweiler: 1.) Rescind the bag ban. 2.) Charge actual user fees for using the bus. Don’t cleverly disguise taxes supporting bus service as fees. 3.) Rescind the Allied Waste fee increase until the Council passes judgment on the reasonableness of the increase using the criteria set forth in their 2008 ordnance.

Bruce Sorte: 1.) Rather than lecture the citizen who testified about the very serious issue on 11th St., address the fundamental problem that he raised. 2.) Allow the citizen members of the Budget Commission to fully participate in the process. 3.) Broaden the economic development strategy with local food production and processing, arts and technical ed.

Paul Woods: Top three complaints, based on visiting hundreds of homes so far: 1.) people don’t like the free bus for various reasons. 2.) The bag ban is not popular. 3.) Since the city took over sidewalk and tree maintenance people are not seeing a lot of sidewalk and tree maintenance.

Candidates for County Commissioner

Position 2

Timothy L. Dehne – Pacific Green Party: (No Response)

Jay Dixon – Democrat (incumbent): 1.) I would have hired a chief operating officer years ago. 2.) I wouldn’t have purchased the Sunset Building. 3.) I would have consolidated finance and assessment functions much sooner.

Jerry J. Jackson, Sr. – Republican/Independent: I would encourage the City Council to not over regulate their citizens.

Position 3

Annabelle Jaramillo – Democrat/Independent (incumbent): 1.) I’d like to see more collaboration and combining of resources with our cities to meet their community needs. 2.) I want to fund programs not departments. 3.) I want greater collaboration to reduce “silos” in county government.

Betsy Close – Republican: 1.) The county has been inflexible in land-use decisions. 2.) The county has cut the Sheriff and road maintenance personnel and corresponding budgets beyond what is prudent. 3.) The county has purchased many pieces of property, taking on large amounts of debt that must be re-paid with interest.

Question 3: Why You Now?

Candidates for City Council

Ward 5

Mike Beilstein (incumbent): I am constantly learning, but I already have a good understanding of how the City operates. There is a drift in the Council toward meeting financial goals without regard to maintaining services. My voice is needed to remind the Council and City staff that we are actually a wealthy community. We shouldn’t impoverish ourselves by underfunding the library, parks, and public safety services that make Corvallis a place we want to live.

Kenneth Davidson: I had some concerns about entering a race against the incumbent. I spoke with my partner, my friends, my neighbors at great length, and put A LOT of thought into running. Corvallis is facing important issues with growth, funding, and community safety… I believe I can find solutions by listening to every side of each issue and balancing the needs and desires of the community with the needs and desires of the City.

Ward 6

Joel Hirsch (incumbent): Experience. Competence. Continuity.

Parks & Rec is currently investigating the possibility of creating a Parks District. As the Council Liaison for the last two terms, I am committed to helping find a workable solution for maintaining our excellent parks system.

2013 is the “Corvallis Year Of Culture.” It is the 100th anniversary of the Majestic Theatre, the 50th anniversary of the Arts Center, and the 25th for daVinci Days. As Council Liaison to the Arts & Culture Commission, this year-long celebration of the arts will benefit from my participation at the Council level, creativity at an artistic level, my experience as an administrator, and my enthusiasm as an involved arts advocate and supporter.

Steve Redman: Because now is not the time for a nonchalant approach to local government like we have had, and I’m not hearing anyone else talk about ways to “grow” out of the budget problems we have. I’m also a native Oregonian and an OSU graduate—I care about Corvallis.

Ward 7

John H. Detweiler: I can do a better job than my opponents. Being retired, I have the time to do the homework required to be effective. And I have a broad in-depth background allowing me to deal with all kinds of issues and all kinds of people.

Bruce Sorte: My experience working on farms, in food service, dry cleaning, retail, manufacturing and government, helps me quickly understand all types of people. My past volunteer service across Corvallis including City Council, OSU Faculty Senate President, neighborhood mediation, and coaching testifies to how much people trust me as an effective leader.

Paul Woods: I will bring a unique perspective to the Council. Having worked for small HP spin-offs, I understand the needs of the type of company Corvallis must foster in order to restore its tax base. I have extensive volunteer experience, and will be able to work well with the many citizen committees.

Candidates for County Commissioner

Position 2

Timothy L. Dehne – Pacific Green Party: Why me, now, you ask? Because I am not running for office for me. I am running to give every sovereign citizen of Benton County a voice in the decisions that the County Commissioners make.

Jay Dixon – Democrat (incumbent): Why me now? Experience and performance… I’ve been doing the job for a dozen years. And I have experience in both the private and government sectors, from small business to large and local and state government. Challenges lie ahead, and experience and a track record will count.

Jerry J. Jackson, Sr. – Republican/Independent: I am better qualified and have more energy to hold this office.

Position 3

Annabelle Jaramillo – Democrat/Independent (incumbent): I have worked at the federal, state, and local level for 37 years. I became a County Commissioner to respond to local needs and to determine the best policy and solutions that will meet the need of our constituents. Knowledge and experience count. I am the best candidate for that work.

Betsy Close – Republican: I offer broad knowledge of land use law, water law, natural resource conflicts, and business/labor issues. I have personally chaired those committees and listened to months of debate. I bring experience and expertise from six years in the Oregon Legislature. No other commissioner has this.

Question 4: What is the best thing that you can say about your opponent(s)?

Candidates for City Council

Ward 5

Mike Beilstein (incumbent): My opponent, Kenny Davidson, said that we should not cut any City services. I agree.

Kenneth Davidson: Mr. Beilstein is an intelligent man.

Ward 6

Joel Hirsch (incumbent): He loves Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell.

Steve Redman: I really don’t know him very well yet, but the fact that he supports our libraries and the arts, like I do, is a good thing.

Ward 7

John H. Detweiler: I am getting to know them and I find that I like them. And, from what I have heard and read, they are very capable people. Ward 7 will be well-represented no matter who wins this election.

Bruce Sorte: In the brief discussions that I have had with my opponents, they seem like quite nice people and they seem genuinely concerned about the challenges facing Corvallis.

Paul Woods: I don’t know them well, but having learned for myself how much time is required to campaign, I appreciate the commitment to Corvallis they have shown by offering their service.

Candidates for County Commissioner

Position 2

Timothey L. Dehne – Pacific Green Party: My opponents are both good and decent fellows. I would be happy to invite them to a Sunday brunch.

Jay Dixon – Democrat (incumbent): I do not know my opponents, I have never had a conversation with either of them. So I have no things to say.

Jerry J. Jackson, Sr. – Republican/Independent: His wife Pat is a wonderful person and I’m hoping they enjoy their retirement.

Position 3

Annabelle Jaramillo – Democrat/Independent (incumbent): My opponent and I have politically opposite points of view. She strongly defends her position and stands her ground.

Betsy Close – Republican: She is dedicated to her philosophy of government.

Question 5: iPhone or Android, and why?

Candidates for City Council

Ward 5

Mike Beilstein (incumbent): What?

Kenneth Davidson: Android.

Ward 6

Joel Hirsch (incumbent): I chose my phone carrier based on the socially responsible politics they contribute to. This informed my phone choice. My phone is made of recycled plastic. But I’ll switch from Android to iPhone as soon as I’m eligible.

Steve Redman: I’ve seen the light and am getting an iPhone soon… I’m attracted to the functionality of it. Plus my college-aged daughters, Jessica and Victoria, each have one so they can help out with it. Like the Chinese say “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

Ward 7

John H. Detweiler: Neither. I have two PCs of varying capabilities, a laptop, and a smart-enough phone. And, I don’t want to surf the Internet on the fly. Therefore, I don’t need an iPhone or an Android.

Bruce Sorte: Android, yet iPhone would be fine. I prefer visiting or teaching in-person or at least doing so synchronously (e.g. Skype) online. I will not use my Android or computer in Council meetings. I will focus completely on the people who are presenting to fully understand their suggestions or concerns.

Paul Woods: I’m too cheap to own a smartphone, but since I own a Mac I might choose an iPhone. However, I mostly use Linux and open source software personally (the Mac is for the rest of the family), so I would lean more toward Android whose OS is Linux-based.

Candidates for County Commissioner

Position 2

Timothey L. Dehne – Pacific Green Party: No opinion as I don’t use either. After I am elected I will evaluate both and purchase the one I like the best.

Jay Dixon – Democrat (incumbent): I’ve had mobile phones for more than 30 years, back when you needed a dolly to cart them around. Today I have a traditional cell phone, and iPhone and an iPad. But don’t ask me to do much more than talk on the phone and open mail and calendar on the iPad.

Jerry J. Jackson, Sr. – Republican/Independent: Android because this is the phone system our business picked to better meet our needs.

Position 3

Annabelle Jaramillo – Democrat/Independent (incumbent): Is this a trick question? Seriously, iPhone. Why? It is an earlier version and it was cheaper!

Betsy Close – Republican: Red Razor Motorola. Why? I just want a good phone with a flip top for security and a large ten-key board. I take “the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Candidate Contact Information:

City Council

Ward 5:

Mike Beilstein (incumbent): mikebeilstein@yahoo.com

Kenny Davidson: kenneth.b.davidson@gmail.com

Ward 6:

Joel Hirsch (incumbent): JOELHIRSCH@GMX.com

Steve Redman: sredman77@yahoo.com

Ward 7:

John H. Detweiler: detweij@peak.org

Bruce Sorte: sorteb@peak.org

Paul Woods: paul_woods@ieee.org

County Commission

Position 2:

Timothy L. Dehne: timldehne@gmail.com

Jay Dixon (incumbent): jaypdixon@comcast.net

Jerry J. Jackson, Sr.: ELECTJACKSON@gmail.com

Position 3:

Betsy Close: closefam@afo.net

Annabelle Jaramillo (incumbent): annabelle@peak.org

Responses from Candidates Running Unopposed:

Penny York – City Council, Ward 1

Contact: york.penny58@gmail.com

1. What is the most important issue facing Corvallis in the near future?

Balancing a sustainable budget with our value for community livability.

2. If you could (hypothetically) change three things the City Council has done, what would they be?

  1. The closure of Fire Station #5 during the last budget cycle.  Public safety is the most important responsibility of local government.
  2. (Postponing) the development of a new Vision Statement.  A lot has changed since 1998 and we need to come together to address our future in light of changes such as the downsizing of HP, the increased enrollment at OSU and health care reform.
  3. The process undertaken to consider the bag ban.

3. Why you now?

My experience in local government, skills in community leadership, and my passion for Corvallis.

4. iPhone or Android?

It’s a cost-effective choice.

Richard Hervey – City Council, Ward 3

Contact: r.e.hervey@gmail.com

1. What is the most important issue facing Corvallis in the near future?

The State of Oregon fixing its taxation problem including revision of Measures 5 and 50 to remove the structural financial problem facing Oregon Cities.  The City of Corvallis working with the League of Oregon Cities has been working to highlight the unintended consequences of those measures and will, in the next year, make those clear to citizens and legislators.  With the current code, increases in expenses largely outside of the City’s control, such as PERS and health care, are beyond the increase in taxes collected.  I view actions we take locally to maintain our balanced budget as stop gap measures until the state corrects this problem.

2. If you could (hypothetically) change three things the City Council has done, what would they be?

I would have modified the Economic Development Plan to specifically call out food growing, processing and storage businesses as part of the economic development we seek.

3. Why you now?

1) My viewpoint is unusual on council and I believe valuable – It is my belief that the current economic problems are not the usual business / economic cycles that will be fixed by one of our major (or minor) political parties  winning in DC or Oregon.  Our problems are much more fundamental involving the use of fiat money created by private banks, global warming and peak oil (and peak other resources as well).  Thus our economic efforts locally should be focused on measures that provide increased independence from the state, national and international economies, where possible.  My emphasis will remain focusing on building resilience in Corvallis.  For those not familiar with the term, I mean helping Corvallis insulate (not isolate) itself from the effects of state, national and international decisions / economy.  Toward that end, I favor policies that 1) encourage local food growing, processing and storage, 2) encourage energy efficiency and generation and 3) strengthen the bonds between citizens, such that we become more interdependent locally.

4.  Iphone or Android?  

I haven’t a clue, they are both outside my budget.

 

By Genevieve Weber and William Tatum

 

 

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