Debate between city, WOU settled

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MONMOUTH — The 2020 General Election is in full swing and voters in Monmouth will have some choices to make by Nov. 3. Two candidates are running for mayor and nine candidates are running for the three seats open on the city council.

All 11 candidates responded to our election questionnaire. Find their responses below.


Cecelia “Cec” Koontz, 62 (incumbent)

Campaign phone number: 503-837-0675

Campaign website:

Current employment: Director, Finance & Operations, Central School District (7 years)

Education: McNary High (Salem, 1975), BA in Economics, University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, Wash. 1979)

Previous government service: Monmouth Mayor 2018 - present, Monmouth City Council 2010-2014, Western Oregon University Board of Trustees 2014 - present (chair, finance committee 2016 - present, Monmouth Economic Development Commission 2009-2010

How long have you lived in the area you will represent? 12 years

Why are you running for office?

Long-awaited development on the corner of 99 and Main, the S Curves and downtown, and the rebuild of the highway, have changed Monmouth’s face forever. Internally, our city manager left after 12 years and we are focused on this critical hire, along with major projects. The recovery from the pandemic will take all hands.

A mayor’s term is two years. In normal times, even with prior commission and city council experience like mine, it takes time to get up to speed, let alone effectively lead. In this time of huge transition and disruption, I want to continue Monmouth’s forward momentum.

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

The critical issues of city government are pretty boring — how to determine the levels of service to meet community needs, plan for long-term viability of infrastructure, and figure out how to pay for all that with limited resources and changing make up and economic fortunes of our residents. We are slogging through that work at every meeting — looking at unpopular rate and fee increases, as well as continuing to find ways to do more with what we have.

We also need to consider growth — the only way to increase the base of revenue for the city. We must engage everyone in the vision for our growth, as well as the mechanics.

It is also a time to determine what kind of people we are in Monmouth and determine the values we share around safety, equity, opportunity and justice and create common understanding of the city’s role in supporting those values.

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

My work experience in finance, operations, and human resources in the private and public sectors, has been beneficial in understanding the budget, management, planning, laws and value of advocacy that make up most of the day-to-day work of the Council.

I bring an abiding passion for the practice of servant leadership and collaboration. My decades of relationship-building in Monmouth-Independence as a volunteer, a business person, a parent, and a neighbor prove their worth every day. I am humbled by the trust that people of all ages, all walks of life, different abilities, and yes, different political convictions put in me, and other public servants in our city.

In addition to my strong local connections, I have developed regional and statewide resources, especially in rural Oregon. Those networks are invaluable as we work to improve the lives of Monmouth residents.

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

Of many lessons learned these last two years, I know that we as a Council, and I as Mayor, need to double our efforts at communicating the work we are doing; the decisions we are facing, and how those decisions are made. I look forward to the challenge.

Lisa Scheirman, 43

Employment: 15 years-Realtor and business owner

Education: Lebanon High School (1995); Western Oregon University, BA law enforcement (1999); BA Spanish (2000)

Previous government experience: Oregon State Police Cadet 1997-1998; City of Monmouth Reserve & Police Officer 1998-2000; City of Corvallis Police Officer/Detective 2000-2011; City of Independence Police Officer 2011-2014; Department of Public Safety Standars and Training Corporal & Sgt. 2014-2017

How long have you lived in the area you will represent? 20 years

Why are you running for office?

There are four main reasons: 1. Improve & support our law enforcement and make sure our small community continues to be a safe place to live. 2. Hold departments fiscally accountable and make sure waste is not occurring. 3. Improve & grow the huge need we have for housing. 4. Support small businesses & their growth.

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

The critical issues facing Monmouth are identified in the four main reasons why I am running: support & improve our law enforcement, fiscal accountability, housing and small business growth. More housing, more businesses and better use of our current dollars will allow us to strengthen, improve Monmouth’s infrastructure and make Monmouth a better community to live in and attract new people to want to come to Monmouth and stay.

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

I believe the citizens of Monmouth would benefit from my experience as a local small business owner, a real estate investor and my significant experience in law enforcement. Being a business owner I understand budgets, as a real estate investor I understand what is attractive to investors to bring them to our community and as a retired law enforcement officer I understand the need for safety in our community goes hand-in-hand with having law and order.

City Councilor

Jason Branske

Employment: City of Woodburn (11 years)

Education: Central High School; PCC — Electronics Associates; Ashford — BA Organizational Management; Villanova University — Masters Public Administration.

Previous Government Service: US Navy – 1995 – 1997

How long have you lived in the area you would serve? Have lived in Polk County 30+ years.

Why are you running for office?

With the events occurring across the nation and throughout our state, I don’t want to be just another person making comments on social media. I have a great passion to get involved with my local community. It is my goal to listen to every citizen and help create a more welcoming environment for everyone. I will promote growth, equality, and justice for all. I feel a need to do this for my family, friends, and neighbors because I love this community. Monmouth is a special place to live and I want to protect our community for all of us.

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

With current changes to PERS and the constant increase to our cost of living, I believe the budget shortfall that has been plaguing all municipalities is critical. In addition, balancing the budget without negatively impacting other resources is high priority to me.

Another major issue is the increasing division in our community, and the nation. This will need to be handled with extreme care. The only way to improve our community is to have people who are willing to listening to one another and not be too quick to form opinions until everyone is heard.

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

I have worked for a municipality for over 11 years. During my career, I have been involved with budget balancing, contract negotiations. I have had overwhelming support by my city administration while working on my Public Administration Master’s. I understand the importance of balance between what is wanted by the citizens and what is financially feasible. I have a reputation of using common sense strategies that created opportunities and beneficial outcomes. I use a systematic approach when working on challenges, so we get it right the first time. I am a cut-and-dry person who will not hesitate to ask for clarity on an issue. This is not just for my benefit, but for all the community that I am serving.


Adam M. Jefferson, 41

Campaign phone number: 503-507-5840

Employment: Self employed (17 years); licensed contractor (13 years)

 Education: High school (1998); Western Oregon University (1998 - 2001), non-graduate.

How long have you lived in the area you will represent? 22 years

Why are you running for office?

Through the many connections I make with my business, I get the opportunity to connect with a lot of people in this community. I have come to realize that many of these people share beliefs and ideals that are not currently being represented at present. I am running for City Council to give these people a voice in city government, as well as looking toward the future while raising a young family in Monmouth. I would like to serve on City Council to uphold the ideals that make Monmouth a great place to live.

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

Monmouth is a great little city. It has been my home for almost two decades. I love the old-time, hometown feel of our community, such as our Music in the Park series, small businesses on Main Street, safe parks and neighborhoods for our kids, and our 4th of July celebrations. I think we should all focus on becoming better neighbors to one another and working together to see that ideal maintained. Over the years, several issues and projects have popped up in our town that are concerning and threaten the integrity of our community. Examples include the introduction of so many dispensaries so close together, or the proposition of offering camping at Gentle Woods Park when we should build a foundation for that idea through the community not the government.

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

While I have never been in government before, I am ready to step into this position. The current climate surrounding American family values is being attacked. I want to make sure that Monmouth stays a great place for all children and their family’s future here. I believe city council should be for the people—all of them—not just those who scream the loudest or have the most time to push their agendas on others. I believe common ground can be realized when we respect each other and listen to one another. Good ideas stem from this mutual respect. My talents lie in that I am cool, even-headed, responsible, and honest, all traits befitting a good councilman. I am passionate about God, family, and state and would bring those values into office.

Carol McKiel, 65

Employment: faculty – advising students and teaching, Oregon State University, since 2016

Education: LaCrosse High School (1973), LaCrosse, Ind.; Indiana University, Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (1999); Northeastern State University (Oklahoma), Master of Science, Collegiate Scholarship & Services (2007); Oregon State University, Ph.D., Education (2011)

Previous government service: Bike/Pedestrian Safety Committee, 2017-2019; Tree Advisory Board, 2017-current

Campaign phone number: 574-520-9245

Campaign website:

How long have you lived in the area you will represent? 12

Why are you running for office?

My career in education has been about serving others, specifically identifying what students need to succeed and then finding ways to provide effective, positive support. I love living in Monmouth and want to focus this energy on helping my community and neighbors by partnering with the council members and the mayor to assist with their current work as well as focus on ways we can continue to grow into the future. I believe that I can bring to the council a positive energy and a passion to help others that will strengthen the collaborations and benefit the people of Monmouth.

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

For me, Monmouth is a great place to live, but some people have negative experiences living in our city and feel unsafe. This is a critical issue facing our community. I would like to open up dialogue with all people in Monmouth, including WOU students, to explore actions that will help residents feel safe and make Monmouth a great place to live for everyone. Another critical issue in Monmouth is safety. People walk in the streets because we’re missing sidewalks, and residents ride bikes on busy roads. We can have more safe pathways for walking and biking by creatively rethinking our street lanes. Finally, climate change is impacting all of us and specifically our children’s future. We need to think creatively to decrease our carbon footprint. For example, encouraging people to stay local and support Monmouth businesses (and start up new businesses) and promote a culture of walking/cycling over driving.

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

As an educator, I learned that it is necessary to listen carefully to people to understand their perspective and then work to address their concerns. People will gain trust when they are heard and understood by someone who cares to act. Over the years, I developed the skill for thinking creatively and finding common ground between seemingly divergent parties when trying to solve complex problems. In addition, I was a manager in the public sector where I worked with budgets, recognized the need to stay within those budgets, and thought outside the box to find solutions to problems that seemed unsolvable. Finally, my core belief is in the unity of humanity which has been the guiding focus of my life. So I believe that everyone has a place at the table, and everyone’s voice matters. With that I believe that pulling everyone’s ideas together can lead to dynamic solutions.

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

We’re living during chaotic times - feeling depressed from COVID, worried about polarized communities, concerned where the future is taking us. I believe difficult times create opportunities for us to do great things. Working together and keeping faith in each other, we can bring about innovation for a bright future.

John Oberst, 62

Employment: Retired (1 year); Member-Manager, Oberst/Stokes Rentals, LLC (19 years)

Education: Lexington Catholic High School, Lexington, Ky. (1976); BA Biology, Transylvania University, Lexington, Ky. (1981); Teaching credential, Biology and Physical Science/Chemistry, College of Education, University of Oregon, 1981-83; Graduate work, Institute of Molecular Biology, U of O, 1987-89

Previous government service: Monmouth Traffic Safety Commission, 2000-03; Monmouth Planning Commission, 2003-06, incl. 2 ½ years as chair; Monmouth Mayor, 2007-16; Monmouth Planning Commission 2018-present; Executive Board, including President, Mid-Willamette Council of Governments 2006-09; Board of Directors (2013-15), League of Oregon Cities as well as Chair, LOC Transportation Policy Committee (2010-2015); Extensive volunteer committee work with ODOT, including the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Task Force, the Director’s Policy Committee, and the Distracted Driving Task Force.

Campaign phone number: 503-917-1702

How long have you lived in the area you will represent?  30 years

Why are you running for office?

I see our city at an exciting crossroads. We will soon have a new city manager, a new, significant building on Main Street, a fully built out S-curve, and hopefully a new City Hall.  Over the past 15 years we have prepared for the future with investments in: our police; sewer, water, electrical & internet systems; parks; and streets. As we continue to grow, we will continue to attract new commercial development and business openings. I would like to contribute as council considers the best way to integrate these changes into the fabric of our city.

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

Due to Oregon’s system for funding local government, cities must either grow, or eventually they will need to cut services. Unfortunately, Monmouth is increasingly landlocked. With Independence on the east, and WOU on the west, wetlands south, and an owner-created wildlife corridor to the north, Monmouth is surrounded. We have plenty of land inside our Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), but the property owners there do not want to develop.

The result is a predicted shortage, inside city limits, of the lots needed for nearly 400 homes over the next 20 years. We are short of the necessary space for high and medium density residences as well. There are solutions to this situation, but they are time consuming to pursue, and involve re-aligning our UGB. I believe Monmouth must begin to deal with this lack of land available for housing now before the situation becomes truly critical.

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

I have volunteered with city government repeatedly over my 30 years living here. I have a thorough understanding of both the powers of, and limitations placed upon, local government. From working with the police chief on the Traffic Safety Commission to the learning the ins and outs of development and land use policy on the Planning Commission to navigating the constraints on and avenues available to City Council when I was mayor, I believe the depth and breadth of my experiences would make me a valuable member of council.

One strength I would bring to council is an ability to see the big picture while minding the details.  What may initially seem to be a great idea will sometimes need changes upon closer scrutiny. I have a knack for bringing to light possible unexpected outcomes and helping to evaluate their impact. I believe this would be an asset at council.

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

Monmouth’s council has, over the years, built a culture of mutual respect. Councilors have collaborated to find successful solutions to problems facing the city. The result? The wonderful place we all call home. I would like to represent you at Council, and work to build an ever more livable Monmouth.

Jason Ridgeway, 39

Employment: Probation officer, Clackamas County Community Corrections (8 years)

Education: Sandy High Schoo (1999); B.S. Education Western Oregon University (2003)

Previous government service: No prior elected experience; middle/high school teacher/substitute teacher Salem-Keizer School District (2004-present)

Campaign phone number: 503-507-3596

How long have you lived in the area you will represent? 20 years

Why are you running for office?

I have worked as a public servant in education and law enforcement for the past 17 years and believe the Council would benefit from a principled problem solver who respects the individual rights of all citizens.  The City needs leadership in prioritizing its objectives to meet the needs of the entire community rather than small constituencies and in understanding the appropriate limits of city involvement.  This will create pathways for more community involvement which is more efficient, rewarding and sustainable than many government solutions.

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

The City of Monmouth, like many governments, struggles with resisting the urge to grow beyond what is necessary and involve itself in too many causes that only benefit small constituencies rather than the whole of the city.  The goal should be to create and maintain a safe, attractive and sustainable place to live while promoting individual liberty.  The challenges are refining the focuses of the City, encouraging a robust business environment, appropriately planning for expenses and investments and engaging the community in the process.  To do these things, the Council must reach out to community partners such as churches, non-profits, business owners and resident experts in various fields to increase community participation and reduce taxpayer burden in order to address challenges.  The City’s job is to promote this process and clear obstacles for people to work together to solve problems within the community.

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

As a parole and probation officer, I have worked with many people who are resistant to changing their perspectives.  Leadership involves using a consistent and gentle approach in conversation to refocus on truth and objectives.  This means listening, but also holding fast to core principles such as respect and individual rights.  I have learned how to respectfully meet others where they are at on a position, engage them in a constructive conversation and find common goals to achieve (win-win).  This is far more effective than compromise (lose-lose) or outnumbering (win-lose).

Seth Rogers, 43

Employment: Chief Information Officer (CIO), Oregon Army National Guard, 15 years

Education: Dallas High School (1996); Western Oregon University, BS Earth Science (2004); Boston University, MS, Computer Information Systems (2008); Capella University, PhD, Information Systems (2020)

Position sought: City Councilor

Previous government service: City of Monmouth, Budget Committee member (2006-2010)

How long have you lived in the area you will represent? more than 20 years

Why are you running for office?

There are two primary reasons I’m running for the non-partisan office of city council:

1. Improve small and new business opportunities within the community.

2. Enable and improve housing options to grow the community.

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

Several critical issues face Monmouth such as limited housing and inadequate small business growth opportunities. I believe economic growth, spurred by small business development, will enable Monmouth to thrive economically. This in turn will enable capital improvement of infrastructure and funding of public programs such as the library, fire, and law enforcement.

What experience or talent do you believe you would bring to the office that would benefit Monmouth? I feel that the citizens of Monmouth would benefit from my experience managing large federal budgets combined with my experience as a city budget committee member in Monmouth. Further, I’m passionate about legal and ethical issues which may impact city related decisions for the community at large.

Rebecca Salinas-Oliveros, 48

Employment: Chemeketa Community College - 20 years

Education: North Marion High School (1990); Bachelor’s Degree-Oregon State University-Human Development and Family Sciences (19950; Master’s Degree-Portland State University-PACE (Adult Learning and Student Services) (2000)

Previous government service: Chemeketa-Academic Standards Advisory Council member-2016-2019/chair-2019-2020; Chemeketa-Accounting, Building Inspection, Business Management, Business Technology, Computer Information Science, Horticulture and Machining Advisory Board Member-2000-2020; Ash Creek Art Center Volunteer-2015-2020 (Día de Los Muertos, Winter Holiday Ornaments, Community Fiesta); Chemeketa Diversity Committee-2000-2003


Campaign website:

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

Why are you running for office?

I am running to ensure: We have a safe and inclusive community; Police are supported and community needs are met; Our small businesses succeed; Affordable housing is available; Students and their families get the support they need to succeed

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

• Safe and Inclusive Community-Continued education for our police and city leaders to help understand the needs of this diverse community in order to build trust. I believe support for our police officers is essential as we strive to understand what is needed to address citizen concerns and build a community in which everyone feels safe and valued.

• Economic Challenges —Continue the work that the City of Monmouth has initiated to address the economic impacts of COVID-19 on housing, small businesses and education. I intend to partner with community organizations to seek the best solutions to keep our community members housed, fed, employed and able to continue educational opportunities.

• Educational Challenges — Continue the work started by the City of Monmouth, Central School District and Western Oregon University in adapting to our evolving educational landscape. I will listen and seek partnerships to address educational access, mental health and social development.

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

I am new to city government, yet believe I can bring a fresh and diverse perspective to our City Council. My work partnering with businesses across Oregon and understanding industry needs gives me a unique perspective on economic issues. Through connections I have fostered with area professionals and internship development, students have earned positions at companies such as Boeing, GK Machine, A-Dec, Intel and various career technical organizations. I have over 20 years of experience working with diverse populations from all backgrounds, ages, genders, gender identification, sexual orientation and political affiliations. As an educator for over 20 years and my focus in adult learning, I also bring a keen understanding of how people learn. In addition to my teaching, my experience in various leadership roles has afforded me the opportunities to create organizational plans, budgets, programs, and partnerships that have influenced positive change for students, families and businesses.

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

I believe Black Lives Matter and that unity regardless of differences is vital to creating a community in which all residents feel accepted and valued. I am determined to do my best in serving our community by listening to your concerns, acting with integrity, and working collaboratively toward positive change.

Byron Shinkle (incumbent)

Employment: Business Owner: 2015 - Present

Education: Western Oregon University: BS – Communication (2000); Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University, MBA (2006); Willamette University College of Law: Juris Doctor (2006)

Previous government service: Monmouth City Council, 2016 — Current

How long have you lived in the area you will represent? Around 35 years.

Why are you running for office?

I want to continue with the momentum that we have in advancing the goals and development of the city. We’ve made some good progress, particularly in the past year. Projects like examining and tweaking our budgeting process to be more pro-active and strategic, the city hall project, storm-water, sidewalks and streets, smart and sustainable economic development, and others are all on the forefront of our agenda and I’d like to keep moving the ball on these in a fiscally responsible way.

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

I believe financial sustainability is the top priority. We’re headed for a critical mass of revenue vs. expenditure in the near future and we have to be strategic and proactive today so we don’t end up having to take drastic measures when difficult times inevitably come. I recognize it’s not the only priority, but everything that we do (some of it are mandates handed down by the state and out of our control) must be looked at through that lens to analyze and execute plans that put us in the best position possible to achieve our goals, take advantage of real opportunities that arise and mitigate challenges and obstacles.

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

I think some continuity to advance the current momentum could be a benefit. But there’s also upside to change. That’s for the voters to decide. I’ve tried to ask a lot of questions to educate myself and whoever else is paying attention as to why we (the city) do the things we do and what would happen if we changed the way we approached some things. Often times I’ll ask challenging or probing questions even though I might support a decision. Regardless of my position, it still needs to stand up to scrutiny. Sometimes it results in meetings that seem unnecessarily long or that I’m being arbitrarily difficult but we should be able to explain the “why” to things when we’re allocating the people’s money to the city’s priorities. Even things we may take for granted should be understood.

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

I’d like to note that my experience with city staff and department heads has been very positive. This is a group of dedicated, ethical and competent people and it’s been a pleasure working with them these past four years. I’ve learned an incredible amount. I hope to continue that working relationship.

Darin E. Silbernagel, 59 (incumbent)

Employment: Western Oregon University, University Treasurer, previously Director of Business Services (31 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)

Position sought: Monmouth City Councilor

Previous government service: 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 treasurer), Monmouth Independence YMCA (current board chair), St. Patrick’s Church Pastoral Council (current council chair), St Patrick Church Shared Leadership Chair, St. Patrick’s Church Finance Council member, Financial Administrator for WOU Catholic Campus Ministries and West Valley Hospital Foundation Board Chair, Knights of Columbus (current Grand Knight).  Also at budget time annually, serve on the City of Monmouth and MINET Budget Committees.

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

Campaign phone number: 503-838-0265

How long have you lived in the area you will represent? 31 + years, since July 1989

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 4th Celebration, Music in the Park and Cycle Oregon/University are great programs that pre-COVID-19, accentuate our city both to residents and visitors.  These create livability and community.

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

Economic Development is one. We need to continuing to improve our businesses and Urban Renewal District.  We have 5 years to go to complete the Urban Renewal investment and increase the incremental tax base.  The Highway 99 streetscape turned out great. I am glad to see Ash Creek Station being fully developed.  We also have new housing developments happening off Hoffman Road and Phase 8 in Edwards Addition.  As a Council, one the most important things we do is hire a City Manager, which we need to see through to completion.  We currently have some community unrest.  Of course black lives matter, all lives matter including the unborn.  Everyone should be treated justly and fairly whoever they are.  Where that is not happening we need to adjust and make sure it does happen.  We need to cooperate and coordinate with WOU and the City of Independence where appropriate and possible.

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

I have a strong administrative and financial background that I bring to the office.  I do lots of public service and volunteering in the community.  I have Monmouth City Council experience.  I listen well and absorb what is needed to make good decisions.

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.

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