Monday, May 20, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
October 23, 2012
FALLS CITY -- The Falls City Council will have new members selected during the Nov. 6 vote-by-mail election. The question is how many?
There are four candidates -- one incumbent and three who haven't served on the council before -- vying for three seats.
Julee Bishop, the lone incumbent seeking re-election, was elected in 2008. The two other councilors up for election this year, Henry Hughes and Erma Ferguson, both decided not to run. Hughes was appointed in April 2010. Ferguson, the city's longest tenured councilor having served 26 years, will retire after this term.
Alyssa Reynolds, Tony Meier and Terry Ungricht join Bishop in the city council race.
Reynolds, 21, has lived in Falls City her entire life. She said her lack of governmental service -- she's one of the youngest city council candidates in recent memory -- is balanced by her unique perspective.
"I don't really have any experience, but I have a great outlook on stuff and see stuff from outside the box and can look at it from both sides," she said. "I think I will be able to help make the community stronger and see great profits (benefits) for this town."
Reynolds said she wants to clean up and improve Falls City's parks and work to reclaim the falls of the Little Luckiamute River.
Reynolds said she has another goal: She believes seeing someone from their own generation serving on the council may encourage residents in their teens and 20s to become more involved.
"I decided to run to help make change for our community," Reynolds said, "to have a younger voice on the (council) to help reach out to younger youth."
Meier, 67, said he decided to run because he wants to do more than just confront the city council on its decision making.
"In the past I've done my share of complaining about council decisions," said Meier, who has lived in town for 10 years. "If I'm willing to complain about decisions, then I should be willing to help make some of the decisions of the council."
Not only is Meier willing to take on the responsibility of being a city councilor, he believes he has what it takes to be a good one.
"I have the time to devote to the task of a city councilor and care about the community I live in," Meier said.
Now retired, Meier noted he spent the latter part of his career as a supervisor at Hardwood Industries in Sherwood. His job was to bring his teams together to accomplish a common goal. He sees a similarity between that and the work of the city council, but it won't be easy.
"I believe that one of the toughest challenges we face currently is finding enough revenue to keep the city operating efficiently," Meier said.
Ungricht, 52, a city budget committee member and retired railroad conductor, said he wants to open the lines of communication between the city council and Falls City residents.
"I would work on opening communication so we can take advantage of the experience and skills of our citizens," he said.
Similarly, he noted that on some issues the city needs to more actively seek the assistance of the county and state.
Ungricht said he believes the council -- facing crumbling infrastructure and limited resources -- has done an admirable job of budgeting, but he has one concern.
"I worry about the high cost of administration," he said. "We need to control administration costs and fight for outside revenues."
Ungricht said he spent much of his 29-year career with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, where he was elected a union officer, trying to help people.
He said now "I want to do the same for our town's citizens."
Bishop said her priorities if elected to a second term would be to improve the city's infrastructure, provide more activities and opportunities for children, and establish a community watch program.
She said all of that needs to be accomplished while keeping in mind the residents the council serves don't have unlimited resources.
"I understand the economy and increasing costs," Bishop said. "But we've got to be really sensitive about the community and its ability to pay for things."
While the budget is tight, Bishop said the city needs to work hard to find a way to pay for street, sewer and water system improvements.
Community building is another of Bishop's goals.
She said the town needs to have a cooperative neighborhood watch with citizens looking out for each other in lieu of a city police officer. Equally as important are activities for children.
"Kids need to have more involvement ... so that they can take pride in our town," Bishop said.
Falls City City Council
Name: Julee Bishop.
Age: Not provided.
Occupation: School bus driver
On the current council's need for citizen feedback: "We are really trying to take care of the major things. What we need more of is citizen involvement. We need people to be free and willing to come and tell us their concerns and thoughts. We need a lot of feedback from the community because we can't think of everything."
Name: Alyssa Reynolds.
On what she would what to accomplish if elected: "I want to be elected for parks and recreation and to help raise money and get the falls (on the Little Luckiamute River) back. (I want to) clean up the city parks and ... offer to the town to bring something new to the table."
Name: Tony Meier.
On the city retaining its water rights to Berry Creek (the city is currently applying to keep the rights): "Water rights are a priority and we need to keep those. It's a valuable resource that belongs to our citizens."
Name: Terry Ungricht.
On an issue the city council should have sought more help with: "This year our citizens will see increases in their property taxes for the wild-land fire fund. This was a fight that the council should have taken a more active role in at the county level."