MONMOUTH — Nine people have thrown their name in the hat for four open positions on the Monmouth city council.

Current councilor Steve Milligan is the sole candidate for mayor.

All candidates returned the questionnaire sent out by the Itemizer-Observer. Meet your candidates here:

Monmouth Mayor


Name: Steve Milligan, 63, of Monmouth

Current employment: Oregon HALO, one year

Education: Chemeketa Community College, 2014, associate of applied sciences, accounting

Previous government experience: Monmouth City Council, 2003-2010 and 2013-2016 (current), Council President, 2009-2010; WIMPEG Board of Directors, 2003-2007; Minet Board of Directors, 2004-2006; Monmouth Planning Commission, 2011-2012; Monmouth Budget Committee, 2011-2012; Central School District Budget Committee, 2011-2016; Central School District Board Member, 2016 (current); Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments, Board Member, 2015 (present); Precinct Committee Person, Precinct 178, Democrat, 2016 (present)

Campaign phone number: 503-269-1373

Why are you running for office? I will bring a new perspective. The last 12 years have seen a lot of exciting growth in Monmouth, while still maintaining the small-town feel. I am excited about how far Monmouth has come and look forward to helping the city continue to move in a positive, livable direction.

What is the biggest single issue facing the city of Monmouth? How would you address it if elected? Revenue versus expenses. Constrained revenue and the higher costs for providing services has been an ongoing challenge for several years. Now, with the added strain of the PERS decision, our fiscal management will need to be at its best. The ways I see this happening are with the fiscal philosophy we have maintained over the past several years; continued conservative financial budgeting, continued effective staff financial management, and continued creative solutions for savings.

Monmouth city councilor candidates

Name: Steve Deptula, 56, of Monmouth

Current employment: Auditor, Oregon National Guard (2012-present)

Education: Master of Science, computer information systems, University of Phoenix, 2002; Master of Science, general administration, Central Michigan University, 1995; Bachelor of Science, geology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1985; Henry J. Kaiser High School, 1978

Previous government experience: Internal auditor, Department of the Army, Oregon National Guard (2012-present); U.S. Air Force active duty, Idaho Air National Guard, Oregon Air National Guard, (1986-2012); Monmouth Budget Committee (2014-2016)

Campaign phone: 503-838-4747

Why are you running for office? I have been in public service continuously since 1980. My career includes leadership roles in the fire service, military, law enforcement, education, nonprofit organizations, and most recently the Monmouth Budget Committee. I believe public service is a special privilege that should be exercised as much as possible.

What is the biggest single issue facing the city of Monmouth? How would you address it if elected? The most compelling challenge the city is facing is in managing the budget in the face of significant and incrementally increasing PERS costs beginning in 2017 and continuing through 2023. Important activities to help reduce the impact of these cost increases include: 1. Specific financial goals and plans should be established and updated periodically. 2. Close coordination between the city council, department managers and the budget committee is essential to ensure specific goals and priorities for each budget cycle are clear and supported. 3. Intensifying efforts to inspire and support economic growth. 4. Keeping citizens informed and soliciting input.

Name: Rich Graham, 63, of Monmouth

Current employment: Retired mechanical engineer

Education: Bachelor of Science business administration, Pittsburg State University 1974; Bachelor of Science Mechanical Engineering Kansas State University, 1984

Previous government experience: None

Why are you running for office? I’m running for office because of my personal desire to be a contributor to the welfare of my community. I am committed to achieving progress for Monmouth without losing our small-town atmosphere.

What is the biggest single issue facing the city of Monmouth? How would you address it if elected?

Out of control spending on long-term debt obligation due to lack of ability to separate “needs” from “wants.” This resulted in our taking on large amounts of unnecessary debt on such expenditures as Minet and the new police station and schools. We were sold on a lot of “bells and whistles,” which achieved little more than put the city into long-term debt which will endanger the community in another bad economy. I will work to ensure that future proposals are focused on actual “needs,” so that our community remains financially solid and our property taxes low.

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

Monmouth is as fine of a community as I have ever lived in during my life, and I am hoping to live out the rest of my life here now that I have retired. However, our current tax demands are out of proportion to what one would expect from a small-town, middle-class community. We need to get rid of our “champagne taste on a beer budget” mentality and get back to the basics if we want to be financially secure in our homes free from excess taxes.

Name: George W. Jeffery, 63, Monmouth

Current employment: Retired for 2.5 years

Education: Bachelor of Science in business administration, Western Oregon University

Previous government experience: Monmouth Infrastructure and Storm Water Task Force (2015-present); Monmouth Budget Committee (2016); Monmouth Planning Commission (2016)

Why are you running for office? I have served on a number of committees and boards in most of the places I have lived. I enjoy giving back to the community in which I live. I would like to see Monmouth maintain its small-town feel and a place that people are proud to call home.

What is the biggest single issue facing the city of Monmouth? How would you address it if elected?

Every city has issues: infrastructure, budgetary, planning. I would like to see a more cohesive, mutually supporting relationship between the community and university. I would query local businesses and citizens on how they see the university; what the institution has done right; what it can do better to embrace a more communal role. At the same time, I would ask the university to include students to do the same. What is good from the community; what can be improved? Then I would ask each side to look within and devise what they can do to bring these two into one.

Name: Mark Lane, 40, of Monmouth

Current Employment: Manager, Western Oregon University (9+ years)

Education: University of Wales - Aberystwyth, BA (Hons) English Language and Literature, 1997; Western Oregon University, MSEd: Information Technology, expected Fall 2016 - Winter 2017

Previous government experience: Economic Development Commission, City of Monmouth, OR (2009-2010);

Urban Renewal District Agency Review Board, City of Monmouth, OR (2009-2010);

General Scholarship Review Committee, WOU, OR (2011-present);

Student Grievance Committee, WOU, OR (2010-present);

Administrative Support Council, WOU, OR (2009-2012);

Ford Institute Leadership Program, Monmouth/Independence, OR (2008-2010).

Campaign phone number: 503-383-9838

Campaign email:

Why are you running for office? Monmouth will soon see major changes in local government, with the incumbent mayor not running and two-thirds of the council seats up for election. We need to ensure that the previous, positive work of the council is continued, while supplementing with fresh ideas and new directions to invigorate the community.

What is the biggest single issue facing the city of Monmouth? How would you address it if elected?

While issues include utility improvement, bond expiration, and capitalizing on highway construction, the biggest issue remains community engagement and vitality. The council made great strides in passing the resolution that created the Monmouth Engaged Committees. We will provide support to these committees to produce positive, tangible, and measurable results.

After serving on over a dozen city, community, and university groups, I have the experience to help continue improve relationships between communities to benefit Monmouth. More broadly, offering dedicated email and calendar hours will ensure that all community members who want to talk will have their voices heard.

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

What a shake-up Monmouth is facing. With a wealth of candidates running for council, it’s important to look beyond name recognition by evaluating what each will bring to Monmouth. Having a council that best represents the needs of Monmouth, whether that results in election or not, should be the desire of every candidate.

Name: Laurel Sharmer, 69, of Monmouth

Current Employment: Emeritus Professor (Retired)

Education: Santa Cruz High School (California) 1964; San Jose State University, bachelor’s degree with great distinction, 1979; San Jose State University, Master of Public Health Degree, 1981; Oregon State University, Doctor of Philosophy, 2000.

Previous government experience: Senior Health Educator, San Francisco Department of Public Health, 1987-1992; Senior Health Educator, Office of the California Attorney General, 1992 – 1993; Chair, St. Lawrence County Environmental Management Committee, 2002-2007

Campaign website: Google “Laurel Sharmer.”

Why are you running for office? Citizens in a participatory democracy have the privilege, the right and the responsibility to engage in their own governance. If the residents of Monmouth elect me to their city council, I will be honored to serve.

What is the biggest single issue facing the city of Monmouth? Who would you address it if elected?

I have listened to many Monmouth residents who believe our city could be better. Above all, they talk about the importance of making our city one that supports the vibrancy that comes when small businesses thrive. For many visitors, though, Monmouth is just a traffic light stop on Highway 99.

One person won’t have the solution to these kinds of issues. It will take our educators, business owners, government officials and individual residents to come together to find a way to make Monmouth a city that everyone wants to visit — and stay to shop, to dine, to play and live.

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

I am an emeritus professor of public health. My specialty area is environmental health and my area of expertise is lead poisoning prevention.

I built my own house on Martin Way. An article about this project was published in the May-June, 2013 issue of Back Home magazine.

Name: Byron Shinkle, 41, of Monmouth

Current employment: Current business owner of Cooper Hollow Residential Services; Director of Employee Relations (Human Resources) – Reading Health System, Reading, Penn. (2012-2015); Director of Employee Relations/Employment Counsel (last position held) – Holiday Retirement, Salem/Lake Oswego, (2006-2012)

Education: Central High School, 1993; Bachelor of Science, Western Oregon University, 2001;

Master of Business Administration, Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University, 2006; Juris Doctor – Willamette University College of Law, 2006

Previous government experience: None

Why are you running for office? I have been looking for an opportunity to serve the community in some capacity and this opportunity arose. Further, I want to be an example to my children to encourage them that. when the time is right, to get involved in the community to actively participate in their own governance.

What is the biggest single issue facing the city of Monmouth? How would you address it if elected?

The question of sustainability is at the forefront. How do we preserve the community standards that residents of Monmouth have worked hard to create, yet maintain the flexibility and financial viability to adapt to the ever-changing needs of the community and advancements in technology?

Accountability should be at the top of the list. I intend on asking lots of questions, not taking information at face value. Elected officials are entrusted with taxpayer’s money and we, as taxpayers, have a right to know that our hard work is spent in a fiscally responsible manner, in line with the community goals.


Name: Darin E. Silbernagel, 55, of Monmouth (incumbent)

Current Employment: Western Oregon University, Director of Business Services since July 16, 1989 (27 years)

Education: Graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Oregon State University in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and a minor in Computer Science, 1983

Previous government experience: Monmouth City Councilor from January 2009 until present (current council president), Monmouth Economic Development Commission/Urban Renewal Advisory Board from inception as an Economic Development Task Force to December 2008.

Other community activities currently involved with: Marion Polk Family YMCA (current board president), Monmouth Independence YMCA (current board chair), St. Patrick’s Church Pastoral Council (current council chair), St. Patrick’s Church Finance Council, Financial Administrator for WOU Catholic Campus Ministries and West Valley Hospital Foundation Board Member (current board vice president), Knights of Columbus (current treasurer). Also at budget time serve on the City of Monmouth and Minet budget committees.

Previously graduated the Ford Family Foundation Leadership Training and project included the Ash Creek Interpretive Shelter community project at Talmadge Middle School.

Campaign phone number: 503-838-0265

Why are you running for office? Make the city of Monmouth the best it can be. We need to create activities and places for students, families and seniors. The July Fourth, Music in the Park and Cycle Oregon/University are great programs that accentuate our city both to residents and visitors. These create livability and community.

What is the biggest single issue facing the city of Monmouth? How would you address it if elected? Economic Development. We need to continue to improve our Main Street District. Urban renewal dollars have supported this nicely. I would like to see continued development along Highway 99, to include the Walgreens lot, the light industrial area, as well as the S-curve property to be fully developed.

We need to cooperate and coordinate with Western Oregon University and the city of Independence when and where appropriate and possible.

Anything else you wish to note about the position you are seeking? I love this community and want to continue to be a part of the leadership moving it forward with good decisions to advance and manage growth into the future.

Name: Thomas Steinke, 54, of Monmouth

Current employment: Retired attorney; Retired police officer — one year.

Education: Bachelor of Science, Criminal Justice Administration, California State University, Sacramento, 1985; Juris Doctor, Notre Dame Law School, Notre Dame, Ind., 1997

Previous government experience: 2016, Monmouth Planning Commissioner

Campaign phone number: 503-917-8937

Campaign website:

Why are you running for office? The outgoing mayor and councilors did a great job of making Monmouth a more enjoyable town, while also taking care of the infrastructure that most folks never notice, like electricity, water, and sewage. I am running to continue providing great city services, wisely managing growth, and maintaining a balanced budget.

What is the biggest single issue facing the city of Monmouth? How would you address it if elected?

Oregon is the fastest growing state in the country. That growth will hit Monmouth, and soon.

We must affirmatively guide the growth to preserve the special character and charm of Monmouth.

This is a terrific place to work, to live, to raise a family, and to retire, but it takes wisdom to keep it that way.

I propose to expand the city westward. This is the most logical direction, given the realities of running roads and utilities. A mix of different density housing, wisely planned, will add to the size of our city without diminishing the quality of life here.

Anything you wish to note about the position you are seeking? As a retired police officer I have seen how decisions by a city council can affect the peacefulness and livability of a city. I have also seen how a well-run police department improves the quality of life for the citizens. We are blessed with a modern, thoughtful, excellent police department, and you will find no greater supporter of our police than me.

As a retired attorney I have dealt with wise laws, and I have dealt with ill-conceived laws.

That experience will guide me as I make sure that any ordinances passed or amended are considered from the perspective of those who must live under them. Law should be a benefit to peaceful and productive people, not a burden.

As a town blessed with Western Oregon University, we owe a duty to the young people living here while working toward their degrees. They deserve a fun, safe, friendly city in which to grow and learn. I promise to work with the university and its students to make sure that they are always considered in our decisions.

Name: Steven Sundseth, 65, of Monmouth

Current employment: Retired from municipal government

Education: Some college

Previous government experience: 37 years working for various municipalities in all aspects of public works with the majority of the time in drinking water management. This experience included time with cities ranging in size from Stayton to Salem. I have extensive experience in working with both city councils as well as budget committees and other agencies.

Why are you running for office? There is a need to set policy that will improve and protect public infrastructure. I have the experience and skills to help plan for the future. Growth in the Willamette Valley is inevitable.

The city should be proactive to ensure all growth-driven planning is done in a timely, responsible manner.

What is the biggest single issue facing the city? How would you address it if elected?

The water system is noncompliant with the rules set forth by the Oregon Department of Health, as stated in the current Water Quality Report. The city failed to meet the 18-month timeline to install needed treatment on its water source.

This lack of progress seems to show a disconnect between the city and the safety of its citizens, as well as the thousands of students at Western Oregon University, that it is entrusted to protect the health of.

My years of experience can be of use in bringing the water system back into compliance with all state regulations.

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