The race for Medford City Council in Ward 1 would be routine were it not for the presence of a perennial candidate who has a real shot at taking the seat solely because of name familiarity. Voters in northeast Medford should make sure that doesn’t happen.
Curt Ankerberg’s angry, foul-mouthed attacks on unsuspecting citizens on social media and elsewhere make him unfit to serve in any elected capacity, and so far, voters have refrained from selecting him for any office he has sought in 10 previous attempts. This time around, he is one of four candidates on the ballot for an open City Council seat, and none of the other three has run before, so their names are unfamiliar to most voters.
Alex Poythress is a business owner with a marketing background. He is a member of the Medford Planning Commission and is chairman of the Parking Commission. Poythress is well-spoken and knowledgeable about city business. He speaks approvingly of moving the Kid Time Children’s Museum into the Carnegie library building and renovating the Holly Theatre. He wants to see improved lighting and security cameras in downtown parking structures and supports efforts to encourage residential housing downtown to contribute to the vitality of the central business district.
Steve Dickson, a human resources specialist for Veterans Affairs, serves on the city Budget Committee and the Medford Urban Renewal Agency Budget Committee. He is well-intentioned and supports needed improvements in affordable housing and public safety, but is lacking in specifics, relying on generalities such as “continuous and solution-based engagement with community partners.” He says Medford should work to entice large companies to move their headquarters here, but offers no specific plan.
David Dobrin, formerly of Lithia Dodge, failed to get information into the Voters’ Pamphlet, virtually guaranteeing a last-place finish in this race, and he didn’t respond to emails inviting him to meet with the Editorial Board.
We think Poythress is the best choice for the Ward 1 seat, and we encourage voters to coalesce around his candidacy to prevent a split vote that could propel Ankerberg onto the council, where we are convinced he does not belong.
In Ward 2, the city’s southwest quadrant, voters have the opportunity to re-elect Councilor Clay Bearnson, the owner of a downtown tavern and a cannabis retail store who has served ably for four years. He wants to attract residential housing and new businesses to downtown, supports building a second swimming pool and advocates using the city’s share of taxes on recreational marijuana sales to do that or to create a homeless shelter or an upward mobility program — “something citizens can see with their own eyes.”
Bearnson faces a challenge from Jim Herndon, a disabled veteran and a retiree with a military and law enforcement background. Herndon previously ran for the council in 2016.
We urge Ward 1 voters to elect Alex Poythress, and recommend Ward 2 residents choose to retain Bearnson.