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View of the Rogue River from the bridge entering Gold Hill. [Mail Tribune / Andy Atkinson]

Mayor candidates have plans for Gold Hill

GOLD HILL — A trio of candidates are vying for the mayor’s seat, with City Council member Zachariah Dell and local business owner Pete Newport facing off against incumbent Christina Stanley.

A surprising number of contenders in a city that historically has found its city officials via write-in ballots, the trio have varying concerns for the embattled city, ranging from infrastructure and increased property tax revenues to improving public safety and the downtown business climate.

Stanley, who was elected to replace Jan Fish in 2016, said she decided to seek re-election Nov. 6 to finish improvements to water, sewer, streets and parks and to focus on enhanced public safety for the town, which is reliant on sheriff’s department protection.

A council member before being elected mayor, Stanley points to progress on city infrastructure during her tenure, including upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant, and efforts underway to upgrade water storage capacity to meet future needs.

If re-elected, Stanley said, she would maintain her focus to be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars and represent citizens’ best interests.

“We must have a mayor and council that keep their eyes open and focused on the task at hand. Our city needs a steady hand and a mayor dedicated to the job of bringing everyone together,” she said.

“While one well-meaning group of citizens intends to use city government for purposes it is not intended to do, this will lead to an endless game of tug of war over who will dominate city government while the citizen’s needs for basic services and professional handling of these operations will take a back seat once again. Our city government cannot be a social club and cannot be the funding source for private businesses. What we can do is lay a sound foundation for property owners, residents, businesses and build from there.”

Newport, owner of Sawyer Paddles and Oars, has been a regular at council meetings for the past year. A former candidate who was deemed ineligible at the time due to residency requirements, Newport said he is eager to lead and improve the small town.

Newport said he has surveyed residents and held community meetings in recent months to “have the best understanding of how to unite the community.”

Newport said his primary focus would be dealing with crime and restoring community watch efforts, along with “boosting effectiveness” of the city’s contract with the county sheriff.

Additional goals for Newport, if elected, include rebuilding the city business community and improving services to citizens by focusing on “unresolved city works projects, unresolved street issues, half-repaired projects and more that need to be prioritized and systematically solved by a permanent city manager.”

Dell said he put his name in the hat for the mayor’s race to push for changes, including growing city boundaries to expand the tax base, reducing crime and improving infrastructure.

“I’ve seen what the mayor can do when they don’t bring everyone together, and they can be very disruptive if they’re not utilizing the position appropriately, especially with an inexperienced council. With the power of one or two people, not even the majority, they can kind of create a snowball effect,” Dell said.

“When I first got on, I realized there were some people who made up their own rules. They do what they want as they bend you over the learning curve. As mayor, you set the agenda for councilors.”

Dell, a proponent of expanding the city’s boundaries for tax purposes “sooner than later” said needed agenda items should never be put off.

Dell said the city would not benefit from waiting to expand boundaries, which could provide the wider tax base needed to improve services now.

“In my mind, everything should be on the agenda. If councilors themselves are asking for it to happen, it shouldn’t be that there’s not enough time. If the meeting is going to run until midnight, then it’s going to run until midnight. Sometimes you can’t just put things off until next week. I want to eliminate the obstructions.”

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

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