Seven apply to fill Ashland council vacancy

Seven people with extensive government and community experience have applied to fill a vacancy created on the Ashland City Council when David Chapman resigned in October.

The applicants are Pam Marsh, Tom Giordano, Lynn Thompson, Keith Haxton, Colin Swales, Eric Heesacker and Kevin Bernadt.

The council received the applications at its Tuesday meeting and must choose a replacement by Dec. 25. That person will serve until Dec. 13, 2014.

Pam Marsh, a former restaurant and inn owner, is manager of the Ashland Emergency Food Bank, sits on the Ashland Planning Commission and has been involved in school, government and health issues.

"Thoughtful leaders help us unify around our common values and negotiate pragmatic and collaborative solutions to challenges that come our way," Marsh said in her application. "Good government protects the well-being and dignity of our most vulnerable residents, while fostering an environment in which families and businesses are supported and flourish."

Tom Giordano, an architect who has served as a city planner for Talent and Phoenix, is a member of the Ashland Historic Commission and is a past member of planning commissions for Ashland and Jackson County.

Giordano said he enjoys working with people who have diverse opinions to solve problems, build consensus and produce creative solutions.

Lynn Thompson, a retired attorney, has experience in budgeting and management.

She is a longtime member of the Ashland Citizens Budget Committee and the Ashland Rotary Club, and has helped raise money for Ashland High School athletics, college scholarships and housing in Guanajuato, Mexico, Ashland's sister city.

In her application, Thompson said she is a political centrist.

"I am fiscally conservative and share the liberal social values common in Ashland," she said. "I don't believe that divisive politics produce the best outcomes."

Keith Haxton, who lost in an attempt to unseat Councilor Greg Lemhouse in the November election, said if appointed he would invest in affordable housing, quality infrastructure and parks.

Homeless himself, Haxton has worked extensively with homeless people and volunteered for many organizations, including the Jackson County Fuel Committee and Peace House.

Colin Swales, a former Transportation Commission member, came out swinging in his application, saying that the council that will take over in January 2013 was elected after the Ashland Residents for a Great City Council Political Action Committee spent money to trash the councilors' opponents.

"This has produced a council overwhelmingly biased in favor of the business community and other special interests — to the ongoing detriment of the ordinary citizen," Swales said in his application.

He said he wants to level the playing field so all citizens can he heard.

Eric Heesacker, a former Transportation Commission member and current Planning Commission member, has a long professional background in city, county and transportation planning.

He said he has no personal agenda and would like to be a fair representative of the entire town's interests.

Kevin Bernadt, who said in his application that he is gay and deaf, said he would like to help create a diverse council that can transcend the partisanship and infighting that sometimes befall political bodies.

Bernadt has an extensive track record of government experience, including working as the program director for New Mexico's Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and as a contract officer representative for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

He also served on a citizen oversight board in Washington state that guided spending of revenue from a veterans and human services levy.

Daily Tidings reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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