Where are all our local candidates?

With about a month left before the deadline to file for election to local city councils, some city officials fret they might not draw enough candidates to fill each position.

The Medford City Council position, Ward 1, now occupied by Jason Anderson, has drawn no candidates. Anderson said he doesn't plan to run for re-election.

"After 10 years of service, five years on the planning commission and five years on the council, I think it's time to step back and let someone else get involved," Anderson said Friday.

The problem is no one has yet filed for Anderson's position, said Medford City Recorder Glenda Owens, and only incumbents so far have filed — or stated they intend to file — for the other three council seats and mayor's seat up for grabs Nov. 4.

The deadline to file in Medford is Aug. 26.

Other cities, including Eagle Point, Gold Hill, Phoenix, Talent and Rogue River also have seats for which no one has yet expressed interest.

"It's kind of concerning at this point in the game," Owens said. "Typically, we hear things from the political folks that so-and-so is going to run. I haven't heard anything this year. Typically, by July we at least have people picking up packets" containing the candidate application and petition.

Other than incumbents, including Mayor Gary Wheeler and Council members James Kuntz, John Statler and Greg Jones, only one person has picked up a candidate packet, Owens said.

Candidates must gather at least 25 signatures to be included on the ballot.

"Local government operates by volunteerism," Owens said. "If we don't have volunteers, what happens to the city?"

Owens, who has been the Medford city recorder for 10 years, said this year's participation is the lowest she's seen.

"A lot of times people sit on the sideline when they are happy with the direction the city is going," Anderson suggested.

Eagle Point Mayor Leon Sherman said he plans to run for one more term, which would be his last under city term limitations. Correction: See below.

Eagle Point City Council incumbents have filed for re-election, but no challengers have come forward, City Recorder Dena Roberts said. Incumbents include Mike Parker, Alan Curriston and Pat Jacobson.

"Last go around we had a few opponents," Roberts said. "This year we haven't had anybody file."

Gold Hill has a mayor's seat and five council seats up for grabs, but there are no takers yet, said City Recorder Mary Goddard.

She said there is no cause for worry yet.

"The history always seems to be we have a lot of write-in candidates," she said.

The city of Phoenix has five vacant council positions. Only one person, Herman Blum, has filed. The Phoenix mayor's seat has garnered at least one bidder, Jimmie Dillard. It's unclear whether Mayor Carlos DeBritto will run for re-election.

Talent has three council positions open, with Sherman Lamb and E.J. McManus seeking re-election. A third vacant seat has attracted no candidates.

"It generally takes people a while to decide whether to run," said City Manager Betty Wheeler.

The city of Rogue River has no candidates for mayor yet. Mayor Dick Skevington is not allowed to run again because of term limits.

Three Rogue River City Council positions have drawn only the incumbents, John Schaeffer, Tony Castro and Fred England.

In Central Point, there appears to be enough interest to fill all of its vacant council seats, said City Recorder Deanna Casey.

Councilman Richard Halley won't run for election, but Alan Broadrick has expressed interest in the position.

Council members Kay Harrison and Walter Moczygemba plan to run again, as does Mayor Hank Williams.

"Council members rarely have opponents," Casey said.

Meanwhile, Ashland has five candidates so far bidding for its mayor's seat. They include George Kramer, John Stromberg, Steve Hauck, Jenifer Carr and Peter Gross.

For the Ashland City Council, former congressional candidate and Ashland Housing Commission member Carol Voisin has filed to run for the seat vacated by Alice Hardesty. Medford policeman Greg Lemhouse has challenged incumbent Council member Cate Hartzell. Peace House chairwoman and library activist Pam Vavra will face off with incumbent Russ Silbiger.

Correction: The original version of this story included an incorrect reference to Eagle Point's term limits and Mayor Leon Sherman's plans. Eagle Point City Council rules allow mayors to run four times for a total of eight years; council members, which serve four-year terms, may run twice. Sherman has been mayor since 2003.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.

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