Stromberg for Ashland mayor

editor's note: This editorial is the opinion of the editorial board of our sister paper, the Ashland Daily Tidings.

It's a testament to the level of civic involvement that seven Ashlanders stood up to run for mayor this election. All deserve credit for their efforts and we hope those whose efforts fall short on election day decide to continue to offer their services to a city that badly needs them.

George Kramer and John Stromberg have risen to the front of the pack during the past few weeks of public forums, news stories and political advertisements. Both have respectable track records in city government, serving on city commissions and garnering support from noted sectors of the Ashland community.

While many of their supporters seem to be in strongly opposing camps, we believe both candidates are relatively moderate and have the best interests of the city at heart. That said, Stromberg, with his experience on the Planning Commission, interest in promoting business and tourism and consistent devotion to sustainability issues is our recommendation for mayor.

Kramer has strong support from the business community, but much less direct experience in city government. As mayor he would serve as a lightning rod for the strong contingent on the City Council and in the community that prioritizes sustainability and believes development in the city must be held to an extremely high standard before approval.

That would cause more of the divisiveness the council has spent two years trying to overcome.

Stromberg's challenge, if elected, will be to continue the healing of the rift in Ashland between (in simplified terms) the "growth is always good for Ashland" community and the "sustainability at any cost" faction. He needs to prove he can represent the interests of the city as a whole — not cater to special interests — and most importantly, keep the workings of city government out in the open for all to see.

Steve Hauck also has a respectable history in city government, holding a council seat for years and remaining deeply involved in numerous other local organizations. He would bring experience to the position — but he has been absent from public discourse in recent years.

Jenifer Carr and Tom Frantz also have solid local appeal, but lack the experience expected of our mayor. Peter Gross, a relative newcomer to the city, offered the potential of a new perspective, along with a background in sustainability issues gaining popularity in Ashland. He has since dropped from the race.

Art Bullock's approach to city issues, even from the sidelines, has been nonproductive at best. As mayor, we fear he would have the potential to plunge the council — and the city itself — into utter chaos.

The real race appears to be between Stromberg and Kramer, who have been in the civic trenches in Ashland in recent years and now are ready to carry their work to the next level. We think Stromberg brings the experience and temperament to keep the council on an even keel and we endorse him for the position of Ashland mayor.

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