Election 2020

The General Election is Nov. 3. 

Itemizer-Observer staff report

INDEPENDENCE — Mayor John McArdle faces a challenger in Jack Waddell in the race for mayor and contests for council positions 3, 5 and 6 all drew two candidates. The I-O sent those running for a seat a questionnaire asking them to explain why they are running for office and what they believe to be the most critical issues facing the city. Below you will find their answers.


John McArdle, 63 (incumbent)

Employment: Linn Benton Community College - 15 years

Education: University of Oregon, Bachelor of Science, Community Service and Public Affairs (1979); Bachelor of Science, Recreation and Park Management (1979)

Previous government service: Mayor, City of Independence, 1999-Present; City of Independence Budget Committee, 1998; Governors Regional Solutions Committee (Economic Development), 2014-present; Board member and Previous President Mid-Willamette Council of Government, 1999-Present; Governors Homeland Security Council, 2007-2010; League of Oregon Cities Board of Directors, 2007-2011, LOC Board President, 2010, currently LOC board seat as a past president; Oregon Mayors Association Board, 2001-2005, OMA President, 2004; Ash Creek Water Control District; US Census-Polk County Chair, 2010. US Track and Field Board of Directors; United States Olympic Committee, Board of Directors, 1996-2000.

Campaign phone number: 503-838-6687

Campaign website: Facebook — McArdle for Mayor 2020

How long have you lived in the area you will represent? 28 years

Why are you running for office?

I love Independence! In my tenure as mayor, the city and its residents created a vision and accomplished the goals of the 2020 vision. Parks, amphitheater, sports fields, downtown street improvements, river walk, movie theater and more. Now 2000 people have provided input into the 2040 vision. I want to continue to use my experience, connections, passion, and energy to build upon Independence’s successes. Independence has always worked as a team and I am proud to be a part of its successful history.

What are the critical issues facing Independence? How would you address them if elected?

Now is a critical time to find solutions and provide support for local small businesses and all our citizens. The city secured state and federal funding to use for small business grants and loans that provide utility assistance for low-income families and promoted safety with signage and videos.

Improve the downtown and east-west traffic flow. The Transportation Plan study is taking place and is getting input from residents.

Improve housing options for seniors, disabled and families. There is need for more variety of homes for people with different needs. This will require working with developers and planning commission in the planning process to assure that new subdivisions offer a mix of options.

Recently Monmouth Mayor Koontz and I, with the assistance of WOU’s President Fuller, began group conversations focused on improving opportunity and inclusiveness. These important discussions will continue as we all listen and learn.

What experience or talent do you believe you would bring to the office that would benefit Independence?

As mayor, it is my responsibility to be engaged in the community, the region, and the state. To know what opportunities and resources are available for our city and to share that information. I am honored to be appointed to statewide and regional committees. I listen, learn, and bring people together: community members, local business leaders, and grant funders. With this process we have been successful in creating parks, new jobs and businesses, and improved services. These skills combined with experience with business, government and foundation leaders have helped our city succeed.

Independence is an award-winning city, the result of years of effort by so many! A community and team working together to complete the vision of success, livability, optimism and vibrance. I believe that our results show that experience, passion, energy, a positive attitude, and the ability to listen, works.

Independence is an example to other Oregon cities.

Anything else you wish to note about the position you are seeking?

I am honored to be part of a great team: a volunteer city council and commissions; customer service-oriented – administrative staff, police, public works, library, economic development, and museum staff. Thanks to our partners: City of Monmouth, Western Oregon University, Central School District, Polk County Fire District and Representative Paul Evans.

Jack Waddell, 57

Employment: Retired

Education: Phoenix Union Electrical Vocational School; Sunnyslope High School, Arizona

Previous Government Service: none

How long have you lived in the area you will represent? 28 years, Independence

Why are you running for office?

Independence is an amazing city, and I love all the different cultures. I enjoy the local traditions we celebrate together as a community. We have a lot of unity here in Independence, and I want to give back to the community.

People are losing hope. We are frustrated with our government leaders – it’s always “business-as-usual” with career politicians. While you and I invest our lives and hard-earned dollars to improve our city, career politicians are eager to take all the credit for our hard work. Enough is enough. I’m determined to give our citizens a voice and help make change.

What are the critical issues facing Independence? How would you address them if elected?

Without question, our city debt is our biggest problem. Under the current mayor’s leadership, our debt has exploded. As our community prospers, they leverage our success by putting us deeper in debt. Then they raise our water bills to help pay for their irresponsible decisions, like the MINET debacle. As mayor, I will motivate council to listen to our valued citizens. I will get the city out of the development business, so our downtown is no longer left with half-finished projects. No more unfinished, vacant buildings lining our streets.

Next is our children’s future – our local education system. I will work hard to bring more support and resources for our kids, to provide them with a more safe, healthy and moral upbringing.

For healthy growth, we must create opportunities for affordable housing and commercial development. We’ll create healthy incentives for energetic entrepreneurs and developers without putting the city at risk.

What experience or talent do you believe you would bring to the office that would benefit Independence?

I am the proud father of six children, whose mother has been the love of my life since I was 15 years old. I value my experience of building a loving family the very most. I have been self-employed for the last 35 years, operating electrical and general contracting companies. I have worked with countless cities over the years, and I know what it takes to manage people and accomplish realistic goals. My greatest talent is my ability to create something out of nothing – I am a true believer in the American Dream, and I want to encourage and help every citizen of Independence to make theirs come true. I have creative ideas that are proven to work, and they will help every citizen. I’m a fun and positive guy, and whenever life gives me a lemon, I make lemonade.

Anything else you wish to note about the position you are seeking?

The people of Independence have helped me a great deal, and I want to return that favor. Government works for “the people”, not the other way around. Every citizen of Independence will be my boss, and I’m so excited to get to work!

Position 3

Michael Hicks, 39 (incumbent)

Employment: Oregon Health Authority (1 year)

Education: Sprague High School (1999); Western Oregon University, Bachelor’s in Philosophy/Anthropology (2004); University of Houston, Master’s in Philosophy (2009); Willamette University, Juris Doctor (2014)

Previous government service: Independence City Council, 2016-2020; Salem Area Sports Commissioner for Travel Salem, 2020 - present

Campaign phone number: 503-586-3541

How long have you lived in the area you will represent? Currently 9 years, but my grandparents were one of the first families to move to the Independence Airpark in the late 70s so I’ve been a regular visitor to Independence for my entire life.

Why are you running for office?

I was raised to value public service. To find some area of your world where you feel you can offer help. Now as a parent of two school-aged children, I look at the opportunity of serving on the city council as a means of passing on that lesson. Also I am running to continue the progress that is turning Independence into the sort of inclusive and prosperous small town that serves as a model for success to other towns in Oregon.

What are the critical issues facing Independence? How would you address them if elected?

A year ago, I would have likely provided a very different answer to this question. But for the near future, the most critical issue facing Independence is the same issue that is facing the rest of the country, how we are going to deal with and recover from Covid-19? However, that doesn’t mean just struggling to maintain the status quo. For those that are not aware, Independence has one of the youngest populations of any city in Oregon. I know many of our residents are concerned with the lack of opportunity and entertainment for our children. I think the recovery from the pandemic will provide opportunities to attract industries and businesses that could address these needs. Ideally, I would like to see a situation where our graduates and young adults want to remain in town after their schooling and do not feel like they need to leave to be successful.

What experience or talent do you believe you would bring to the office that would benefit Independence?

I have lived both overseas and out of state in cities ranging from small to very large. I have experienced a variety of governing philosophies and seen what works for towns and what does not. Bringing that experience along with my background in law, I believe I have a strong foundation in the workings of local government. From there, I feel I can focus on how best to bring about the changes the residents of Independence want to see. I also pride myself on being able to take complex issues and discuss them in readily understandable ways. That way I can explain to any resident why I took the action I did or why a policy or proposal might be outside the scope of what a local governments could, or should do.

Anything else you wish to note about the position you are seeking?

Serving on the Independence City Council has been an honor. I hope you will allow me to continue serving the city. I promise to be open and honest about my time on the council so even when we disagree, you will be clear on where I stand and why.

Dawn Hedrick-Roden, 44

Employment: Teacher, 2015- present

Education: Central High School (1994); Oregon State University, Bachelor of Science, Speech Communication (2006); Western Oregon University, Master of Arts, Teaching (2015)

Previous government service: Historic Preservation Commission member, 2012 to present; Lead volunteer playground/improvements to Pioneer Park, 2010-2012; US Navy, 1998-2007

How long have you lived in the area you will represent?

I was born and raised in beautiful Independence, Oregon.

Why are you running for office?

I am working for you, the citizens of Independence! That means I will listen and do my very best to represent every person of the city of Independence. As a mom, I have a great deal of practice listening to the needs and wants of people that live in our great community. I have and will be ready to continue to engage with our neighbors as a member of the council.

What are the critical issues facing Independence? How would you address them if elected?

1) Youth services — I’m the single mother of four amazing kids. Keeping them engaged in activities is a big task that often happens on a shoestring budget. One of my priorities is to ensure that our city empowers parents by providing the kind of services that keep kids engaged in healthy adventures, and out of trouble.

2) Homelessness — We’re fortunate that our challenge with homelessness isn’t as bad as it is in places like Portland or Eugene, but we’re not immune to this challenge. If elected, I’d build a stronger alliance with organizations like Mid-Willamette Valley Homeless Alliance to bring compassionate solutions to this issue.

3) Growth/business turnover — Fostering sustainable growth is part and parcel of being a mom. As a member of our city council, I’ll look for opportunities to encourage healthy growth while supporting policies that help to sustain the great businesses we already have, like The Pickin Chicken, Second Chance Books, and San Antonio Restaurant.

What experience or talent do you believe you would bring to the office that would benefit Independence?

I’ve worked in government, from my time in the U.S. Navy to my work in local public schools and as a member of the Historic Preservation Committee. I understand the concepts of stewardship and public service, and the value of accountability. I’m committed to doing my part to ensure that our municipal government is accountable and responsive to the people.

Position 5

Sarah Jobe, 43

Employment: Self-employed – Real Estate Broker with Windermere Willamette Valley (Monmouth Branch)

Education: Portland State University, Bachelor of Science, Social Science and a Minor in Sociology (2008); Chemeketa Community College, Associate of Arts Transfer Degree; North Salem High School, High School Diploma (1995)

Previous Government Service: none

How long have you lived in the area you will represent? Polk County, 12 years; Independence for 9 years

Why are you running for office? I want to be a voice for the people of Independence. I want to listen to the people and represent their wishes and focus on important issues such as the city budget, housing, small businesses, and community resources.

What are the critical issues facing Independence? How would you address them if elected?

Critical issues facing Independence right now are affordable housing and small business growth and retention. Balancing the budget and creating a surplus, and not by increasing taxes on the people of Independence. Tackling the over $40 million dollar debt owed by the city. Focus should also be on funding, resources, and support for our schools and education and for programs such as law enforcement and first responders.

What experience or talent do you believe you would bring to the office that would benefit Independence? I’m a problem solver and always work well with others to find the best solution. I’m not afraid to ask difficult questions and will listen and not back down from what is right. I currently hold an elected position on the Board of Directors for the Polk County Association of Realtors. I have experience with people and with doing what is best for those around me. As a small business owner, I have experience in overcoming challenges, in success and in working hard. My previous experience in family law (nearly 18 years), taught me critical management skills, as well as compassion, empathy, and resilience. I volunteered for two years as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in Marion County. I am ready, willing, and able to work hard for the people of Independence to make it the best community that it can be.

Kelie McWilliams, 33

Employment: Small business owner, 10+ years but continuously since 2014

Education: Agate High School (2005); Idaho State University, Bachelors (2010)

Previous government service: Notary Public, 2010-2012

Campaign phone number: 503-862-3518

Campaign website: www.keliemcwilliams.com

How long have you lived in the area you will represent? 2 years

Why are you running for office?

I believe in working to make life better for my neighbors. As a self-employed mom to two young children and bonus mom to a teen, I understand deeply that working parents and small business owners need a strong advocate on the council to ensure that their needs are considered and amplified in city government.

What are the critical issues facing Independence? How would you address them if elected?

Like most rural Oregon towns, Independence is facing issues around affordable housing, economic stability, transparency in and access to city government, building quality infrastructure, and creating appropriate supports for residents and local businesses. Recently, the city has made great effort toward increasing outreach to residents and addressing ways to provide diverse enrichment opportunities to youth, but there is still considerable work to be done. City councilors work closely with boards and commissions to solicit and develop new ideas and to monitor progress. Independence can count on me to show up and dig into the work before us.

What experience or talent do you believe you would bring to the office that would benefit Independence?

When I was young, I heard someone say once that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” and I stunned them when I asked, “What about the people who don’t have boats?” That has been on my mind a lot as I’ve sought ways to serve others. As a small business owner, I’ve often come up against problems that don’t have easy or fast solutions. This has taught me how to identify and implement solutions that are inclusive, innovative and productive. On city council, this means that solutions must address the complex needs of residents and businesses as they are today while being sustainable for tomorrow.

Anything else you wish to note about the position you are seeking?

I’ve been having conversations with residents to hear more about their needs and desires for our town. Anyone interested in meeting with me can schedule a time by sending a request to hello@keliemcwilliams.com.

Position 6

Kathy Martin-Willis, 59

Employment: Campaign Manager 3/1/2020 – present

Education: Poway High School, Poway, Calif. (1978); Umpqua Community College Roseburg (1993); AA Early Childhood Education, Western Oregon State College (1996), BS Elementary Education Previous government service: Independence City Council, 2016 – present; Independence Planning Commission, 2012-2016; Independence Budget Committee, 2011-present; MINET Budget Committee 2019/2020; Chair, Independence Bond Committee, 2013

Campaign phone number: 503-949-9157

Campaign website: www.martin-willis.org

How long have you lived in the area you will represent? 27 years

Why are you running for office?

I have long had a heart for serving the community that has given me, and my family, so much. As a council, in the last 4 years, we have increased transparency of operations, accessibility to local government, and community involvement in visioning for the future. I have watched the 2020 Visioning Plan become a reality, as we create our 2040 Vision. We have become a more inclusive community, yet there is still more to be done. I am running for re-election to complete the work we have started and to further encourage participation by all our residents in local governance.

What are the critical issues facing Independence? How would you address them if elected?

We need to continue our work towards inclusion of all. Our Outreach Manager has made great inroads toward this end. Our Downtown Manager has facilitated cooperation with, and among, our local businesses and organizations. Local business incubators have provided new and growing businesses with tools for success. As a City we have worked to assist businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. We are growing. Managed growth will be key to balancing community needs with the ability to manage our utilities. The City has successfully obtained grants to assist in our expansion of services, reducing the burden on our residents. As a community, we need to continue to attract quality businesses and jobs that pay a living wage. We can continue to be successful at this by showcasing business necessities such as our high-speed internet capability through MINET, and our unique attributes including livability, recreational opportunities, and a vibrant downtown.

What experience or talent do you believe you would bring to the office that would benefit Independence?

The knowledge gained from my time on the Budget Committee and Planning Commission prepared me well for my first term as a City Councilor. City finances are very different from managing a household budget and Planning Regulations take time to learn. Given my experience in City Government, as a former Chamber Board Member and President, former small business owner, spouse of a veteran and mom that has raised a family here, I have a broad-based knowledge of the City, our community, and the visioning that contributed to making Independence the charming, thriving community we are today. My 11 years in Youth Services at the YMCA and DHS provided insight into the needs of families in our community. I am a firm believer that quality leadership is rooted in a desire to serve. I believe I have demonstrated that desire, and seek the opportunity to continue my service to my neighbors.

Anything else you wish to note about the position you are seeking?

2020 is the most challenging time we have faced since WWII. I know City Council sometimes makes decisions residents don’t understand. I am available to provide context to those decisions. We need officials with demonstrated skills who will continue to lead us in these times with experience, head, and heart.

David Ramcharan, 33

Employment: Good Samaritan Regional medical Center, Corvallis

Education: Hermiston High School; Oregon State University, Bachelors of Science in Exercise and Sports Science; Creighton University, Doctorate in Occupational Therapy

Previous government service: none

How long have you lived in the area you will represent? 8 years

Why are you running for office?

I am running for city council to inspire community unity, and pioneer healthy change, representing the citizens of Independence. This includes addressing budget imbalances, reducing utility costs, small business growth and sustainability.

What are the critical issues facing Independence? How would you address them if elected?

Addressing the city debt is a critical issue facing Independence. Exorbitant spending with promising returns that have yet to be fulfilled is something that has plagued the community of Independence for years. This reflects greatly on our utility costs and taxes. I will also advocate to fully support our law enforcement, first responders and public programs/facilities. Finally, to identify and address the needs within our school system, in order to promote equal opportunity of success to all children.

What experience or talent do you believe you would bring to the office that would benefit Independence?

I am a first-generation immigrant from the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. My family sacrificed and persevered through many things to afford me the opportunities of a better life here in the United States, for which I am grateful. Today I am a health care provider that fosters an individual’s independence through the lens of occupational rehabilitation. I am also a small business owner. I believe both careers have strengthened my qualities of compassion, empathy and patience. It has taught me the importance of empowering others through a person-centered approach, which nurtures unity to a healthy and successful environment. This is transferable to the role in office. I also have experience with health-based-needs assessments for under-served schools when I lived in Nebraska. I am passionate about our community and the people that make it our home.

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