Our Special Election Endorsements

Vote by November 5

Most ballots for the upcoming, November 5 special election will revolve around a single question: whether you are willing to pay for improved 911 dispatch services or not. Those who live in Ward 7 will also be asked who should replace Bill Glassmire as their Corvallis City Councilor.

We endorse a yes vote on the 911 Emergency Communications Services Measure 2-124

Since 1983, calls to the dispatch center have increased 132 percent, but its staff has only increased by 47 percent. With 75 percent of calls for help now coming from cell phones, our dispatch center needs to purchase upgrades so it can use the features of a cell phone to find a person in trouble. While a dispatcher retrieves an address when a call is made by a landline, this feature is not currently possible with cell phones. Moreover, asking for an address takes time, and time is critical in an emergency.

Currently, our  911 Center is failing to meet the national standard for dispatch timing of 90 percent of calls dispatched within 60 seconds. Currently, the staff can only meet that standard 71 percent of the time.

The property tax assessment for this measure is 0.65 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value – this comes to $260 on a home worth $400,000. Seeing as this is a taxing district, it would be a permanent assessment. While we think it’s a little steep, it’s still worthwhile.

We endorse Linda Gearhart for
Ward 7 City Councilor

In our CitySpeak Debate, Gearhart appeared to have the best grasp of the city’s current slate of issues. She was direct, passionate about helping her fellow community members, and practical. She is both an ordained minister and works at OSU Parking.

Gearhart, at one point in the debate, challenged some speech-making concerning homelessness at an earlier CitySpeak, positing that what is needed is pragmatism and real help. Unlike the other four candidates for this seat, Gearhart failed to get her name and pitch into the Voter’s Pamphlet, meaning she has quite the uphill battle if she is to win.

For as much as we’re impressed with Gearhart, we will admit that there is no one candidate that we were not impressed with. Our Q&A at the event determined that most of the candidates see housing as important and would support some amount of upzoning for higher density. However, Paul Schaffer is an exception, stating that he feels there is too much emphasis on housing. Susan Walenza would prefer most new housing be developed downtown. At the time of the debate, Gearhart said she would be against higher density housing, but later told the paper she has further examined the issue, and would currently answer differently. All the candidates, save Schaffer, agreed the city could incentivize developers to build a more diverse inventory of housing.

On homelessness, all the candidates said they would support a mix of high and low barrier shelters, except Walenza, who stated she would wait for the county homelessness coordinator to start. Only Walenza and Bradley Longman would support a white paper level study on Corvallis’ current need for services, most feeling the city already has enough information. All agreed that a tax levy to fund services for people experiencing homelessness may be helpful, except for Walenza.

City Councilor positions are almost like full time jobs, and there has been some discussion that paying Councilors would allow for a more diverse set of candidates in the future, making serving possible for those who could not otherwise afford to do so. The majority of candidates support this notion in some form, except for Lucas Letelier and Schaffer.

Our Editorial Board: Editor-in-Chief Stevie Beisswanger, Associate Editor Johnny Beaver, Publisher Steven Schultz. Reporter Brandon Urey participated in deliberations, and voted with the Board in the instance of these endorsements.