Law enforcement, tourism cites as issues in Gold Hill race

GOLD HILL — Two local men will face off for an available council seat in a Sept. 15 special election, with both saying they want to see the city figure out its law enforcement issues and improve its tourism draw.

Ballots were sent out Friday asking voters to help fill a vacant council seat for a four-year term expiring in December 2012.

Only one candidate, Sal Esquivel III, will appear on ballots, but resident Sam Blake has declared a write-in candidacy.

Both Esquivel and Blake voiced a desire to improve the town's tourism draw and find things for local youths to do.

Esquivel, who moved to the town a year ago, said he felt a pull to be involved in his community.

Son of state Rep. Sal Esquivel Jr. of Medford, Esquivel said he was "not much into politics" and gave no thought to voters recognizing his well-known father's name in the upcoming election.

"I don't pay much attention to my dad's politics," Esquivel said. "I've got my life and he's got his. I'm a musician and dad sells real estate. I really didn't consider what my dad does as a representative when I decided to run."

"I just figured, you don't have the right to bitch if you're not going to do something about it."

Blake, a Crater High School graduate who moved to Gold Hill seven years ago, said he hoped to focus on working for citizens to address concerns with law enforcement and recently discussed issues such as public works concerns.

Medically retired from a management position at Veterans Affairs offices in White City, Blake, 48, said he decided to run to seek a seat on the council to put his years as a civil servant to good use.

Blake, who said a medical emergency prevented him from filing paperwork for the election, has conducted a write-in campaign, handing out fliers and talking to voters.

"I'm used to being involved and working for the citizens after so many years as a civil servant," said Blake.

"I'd like to make the community more friendly for tourism and small businesses and find some stuff to bring people into town."

On law enforcement, Esquivel and Blake concurred on the need for an alternative to a town police department — the city's police department was disbanded last year for the second time in recent years over liability concerns.

Blake said he would offer an open mind to improving public safety, but said he was "not sure any of the options being discussed are the right answer."

Esquivel suggested a volunteer effort, with residents taking a training course at a local agency to provide volunteer patrols.

Esquivel, a self-employed musician who said he does "a little of this, a little of that, to pay the bills," said he hoped to change citizens' minds about city politics.

He said, "I've been talking to a lot of people and learning about all the issues. There are a lot of cynical people in this town that are just not happy with the way things have gone so I figured I should see what I could do."

The race is the lone issue for all of Jackson County on September ballots. The vote-by-mail ballots must be received no later than 8 p.m. Sept. 15.

Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker said voters should plan to mail their ballots by Sept. 10, to ensure arrival at the Medford elections office on time. Ballots not mailed by then should be hand delivered to a 24-hour drop box, at 1101 W. Main Street, Medford, or to the elections county during business hours.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at

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