Warren, Luz to contest Phoenix mayor’s post

PHOENIX — At least two candidates will seek the town’s two-year mayoral seat in the Nov. 6 election. Incumbent Chris Luz has announced he will run again, and City Councilor Stuart Warren has submitted his application.

Luz was elected to the post in fall 2016, defeating Ben McCormick. Warren was elected to a four-year council seat in fall 2016. If he doesn’t win the mayor’s spot, he would retain his council position.

During the last two years, the city has seen a succession of managers. After two-and-a-half years in the job, Steve Dahl was fired in May 2016. Since then the city has had two permanent managers, and the position has been filled on an interim basis three times. Shady Cove City Manager Aaron Prunty will become permanent manager July 2.

“Some of that was out of our control. You do the best to hire somebody that’s good, but sometimes they are going to blow up on the job,” said Luz. Eric Swanson, manager from September 2017 until February, left for a better position, said Luz.

Warren and Councilor Sarah Westover voted in March 2017 against dismissing former City Manager Jamie McLeod-Skinner while she was still in a probationary period. McLeod-Skinner was dismissed on a 3-2 vote in which Luz, as mayor, did not participate, although he brought concerns about her performance to the council. McLeod-Skinner is the Democratic Party candidate to run against Greg Walden for the Second Congressional District seat.

“I think you need aspects of the job that they enjoy. I think that creating a team atmosphere (on the council) for direction so they can do their job and gain fulfillment out of their position is important,” said Warren.

If elected, Warren said he hopes to see a quarterly Mayor’s Newsletter transformed into a city newsletter with staff contributions, more frequent publication and dissemination in both print and electronic formats.

Finishing the new city center hub urban renewal project downtown is important, said Luz, adding that listening to citizens and working with the police force to keep citizens safe are other top priorities.

A decision by the council to return Main Street downtown to a two-lane configuration from the current “road-diet” setup is an example of listening to the people, said Luz.

Three four-year City Council positions will also be on the ballot. All three are currently filled by appointees. The contest is at-large, with the top three vote-getters seated.

Jim Snyder, who is council president, has taken out paperwork required to run for a seat. Snyder was appointed to fill the vacancy created when Karen Jones resigned in January 2016. Snyder says issues facing the town include urban growth boundary activities and increasing business density and variety.

Councilor Michael Shunk has filed to run. Shunk was appointed in early 2017 to fill the vacancy created when Luz, who was elected to a four-year term in fall 2014, took over the mayor’s post in January 2017.

Councilor Cindy Cameron was appointed to the body last year to replace Bruce Sophie, who resigned. Cameron did not return calls about her election plans.

Election packets are available from City Recorder Kimberlyn Collins at City Hall, 110 W. Second St. An Aug. 20 submission date for signatures is recommended to allow time for Jackson County to complete verification. Deadline for filing is Aug. 24. Last day to file a candidate statement for the Jackson County Voters’ Pamphlet, with the county elections office, is Sept. 10. There is a $50 fee to appear in the pamphlet.

Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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