A last-minute rush to meet an Aug. 28 deadline brought out 11 candidates running for four Medford City Council positions.
To qualify, the candidates gathered 25 signatures of registered voters. Councilors, who volunteer their time, can spend 20 hours or more a week doing city business.
With Tim Jackle deciding not to seek another term, Ward 1 in northeast Medford has attracted the most candidates for the November election, with Curt Ankerberg, Steve Dickson, David Dobrin and Alex Poythress in the running.
In Ward 2 in southwest Medford, incumbent Clay Bearnson will face challenger Jim Herndon.
Councilor Kevin Stine has two opponents in Ward 3 in northwest Medford, Don Libby and Glenda Wilson.
Ward 4 in southeast Medford has incumbent Mike Zarosinski challenged by Lewis Severson.
Ankerberg is the most well-known of the Ward 1 candidates, having run and lost in 10 elections over as many years. A U.S. Tax Court judge in January found Ankerberg committed tax fraud, failing to report $111,366 in income over a three-year period and improperly claiming $67,000 in deductions. Ankerberg, a local accountant, is known for his inflammatory rhetoric and has declined to be interviewed by the Mail Tribune.
Poythress is on the city Planning Commission and is chair of the Parking Commission.
“I believe Medford has a tremendous amount of potential to be an incredible community,” said Poythress. “We have this natural organic growth happening here from people from other parts of the country.”
Poythress, 29, moved from Birmingham, Alabama, five years ago.
While he sees Medford’s potential, he said the City Council needs to do more to deal with obstacles to growth and to being a family-friendly neighborhood.
“I’ll be pushing for a safer community, cleaner neighborhoods and more economic growth,” he said. “We shouldn’t have to call the police to shoo someone away from the front door of a business. We shouldn’t have to step over feces on the sidewalk.”
Poythress said he owns three companies, Revel, which deals with company branding, Momfit, which offers apparel for active mothers, and Ballistic Armor Co., which handles military-grade armor such as helmets and vests.
Dobrin, formerly with sales at Lithia Dodge, said he didn’t have a strong interest in running for an elected position, but he said his love for Medford prompted him to make a run for the council.
“When the election came around, I got to thinking about it and decided to do something,” said 27-year-old Dobrin.
He said he’s particularly concerned about budget issues and thinks the city could do a better job spending taxpayers’ money.
“I think I’d scrutinize things a bit more,” he said. “That’s all our money, that’s our neighbors’ money.”
Dobrin said he would continue to push for solutions to the homelessness issues that face Medford, noting they’ve had a big impact on parks and the Greenway.
He’s lived 20 years in Medford and is involved in online marketing for companies. “I’m in the process of figuring out what to do next,” he said.
Dickson, who works in human resources for the Veterans Administration and is on various city committees including the Budget Committee, said he wants to focus on affordable housing and economic growth.
He hopes to make the city more industry-friendly to create jobs for local residents.
Dickson, 39, has said his primary reason for running is to serve the people of Medford.
In Ward 2, Bearnson, who runs a local bar and cannabis store, is running for a second term.
“I’m not done yet,” he said. “I’m just starting to figure out the role. I hope to get another four years to implement the plan.”
Bearnson said he’s excited to see the $1.9 million of Medford Urban Renewal Agency dollars going to help seismically retrofit downtown Medford to help with revitalization efforts.
He wants the city’s share of marijuana taxes to be spent on something tangible, such as a municipal swimming pool, a homeless shelter or an upward mobility assistance program. “I’m adamant that we see marijuana tax revenue be spent on something citizens see with their own eyes,” he said.
He’s also looking forward to seeing more acreage annexed into the city and to have developers take advantage of a fee deferral program if they build affordable or workforce housing.
Herndon, a disabled veteran who previously ran for council in 2016, has a military and law enforcement background.
The large number of veterans who are homeless is a major issue for him, and he wants the city and the region to do more to help those who’ve sacrificed for their country.
He has said the price of housing continues to go up, putting those on fixed incomes, including veterans, in a bind.
Herndon also wants to hire 10 more police officers to help keep a full complement of teams that patrol various sectors of Medford. He said the extra officers would help fill in when some personnel are off sick, on vacation or are injured on the job.
“I’ve had complaints from citizens about response times,” he said. “I had a friend who had a rifle and pistol taken out of his vehicle and they only could take a phone report.”
Stine, who has worked with veterans at both ACCESS and now for Rogue Community College, is running for a second term in Ward 3. Wilson works for Addictions Recovery Center and was terminated as Medford city recorder on June 12, 2015. Libby is a security guard who has declined to be interviewed by the Mail Tribune.
In Ward 4, Zarosinski, a civil engineer with Adkins Consulting Engineering in Klamath Falls, is running for a second term and could not be reached for comment.
His opponent, Severson, is a retired contractor who does seasonal work for the city of Medford Public Works Department.
He said he’s always had an interest in this community and said he has an interest in looking into the hiring practices at the city, particularly in upper management.
“I’ve lived here all my life, for the most part,” 75-year-old Severson said. “Rather than complain about it, I decided to get into it and figure out what’s going on.”
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.