Write-ins welcome in Gold Hill

GOLD HILL — Representing the only city in Jackson County with no candidates appearing on the ballot this November, Gold Hill officials are hopeful a decades-old trend of filling City Council vacancies with write-in candidates will continue.

Come Jan. 1, the only remaining council members will be Donna Silva, appointed in July, and Kathleen Price, elected in May 2008.

Council members Jan Fish and Mike Ely have decided not to seek re-election and Mayor Gus Wolf, after a decade on the council, has decided to step down as well.

One former councilwoman, Judi Holdeman, said she has actively campaigned to have voters write her name on the ballot to serve a four-year term after a deadline error resulted in her being unable to file.

Holdeman, a one-time council president, resigned in February in protest of a City Council decision to pay fines levied against former Public Works Director Royal Gasso.

Gasso was fired earlier this year after the latest in a series of drug-related arrests. He recently agreed to a six-month severance package worth nearly $30,000.

Holdeman said she had "every intention" of having her name appear on November ballots, but an incorrect date posted at City Hall squelched her plans.

"I had planned on running and being on the ballot. I was told the filing was Aug. 28, so I took my papers in on Aug. 27 and the deadline was the 26th," said Holdeman.

If written in by voters to serve through 2012, Holdeman said she would advocate for a better accounting system, encourage more businesses to come into the city and push for the hiring of a city administrator.

Aside from Holdeman, no other residents have stepped forward and declared a willingness to serve.

Councilman Mike Ely said he was undecided about whether he would stay on if he is written in by voters.

"It's a good question and I don't know," he said Friday. "I may serve some period of time with the caveat that when I have to leave, I have to leave."

Ely said he'd like to see other residents step in and serve.

"There are so many really neat people in Gold Hill who would do a fantastic job at this — and who have the intellect and wisdom to do it right. I'd really love to see some of them step forward and take on the job," he said.

Former Councilwoman Christine Alford, who frequently receives write-in votes during election time, said she is unsure whether she'd be willing to serve again.

Last month, Alford, after seeking appointment to a vacancy on the council, voiced frustration when members opted to leave the seats vacant until election time.

Alford said if she did accept a write-in nomination, she'd "go up there and try to get a city manager hired" to keep up with "day-to-day business that's not getting done now."

Wolf, appointed as interim mayor in February after the resignation of Mayor Dan Morris, said despite its usual lack of candidates, the council always has managed to maintain a quorum.

"People usually come around," he said. "So I guess we'll see."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.

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