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CANDIDATES FIELD VOTER QUESTIONS AT FORUMS

By DAVID COURTLAND

Pilot Staff Writer

Candidates at voters forums in Brookings on Tuesday night and Gold Beach on Wednesday night fielded questions about everything from resources management to whether they would complete their term in office.

Both forums were moderated by members of their sponsor, the Womens League of Voters, which also sponsored a third forum in Port Orford on Thursday night.

After each candidate gave an introductory speech, a question-and-answer period followed for members of the audience to ask candidates specific questions.

Tuesday's forum featured candidates for Brookings' city council and mayor as well as county commissioner and sheriff and state representative.

Wednesday's forum did not feature any candidates for city office, but was attended by both candidates for state representative. Incumbent representative Wayne Krieger had not been able to attend the first forum because of a schedule conflict.

Brookings mayor

Incumbent Brookings Mayor Bob Hagbom and challenger Vikki Nuss both addressed carefully managing the city's growth in their speeches.

"We are planning for the future with a downtown master plan," said Hagbom. "I am not afraid of change, but we must be prepared for change and make sure it is done in a manner that benefits the public."

In contrast, Nuss singled out issues – particularly a downtown couplet – she said needed to be dealt with before real change could take place.

"Once the plans for the couplet are tossed aside, we can address needed improvements for existing neighborhoods and other infrastructure upgrades," said Nuss.

In response to questions about development and deferred improvement agreements, Hagbom replied that developers are not being given free reign.

"We feel strongly that managed growth is planning ahead," said Hagbom. "We do try to factor in managed growth, and we do try to have developers put in infrastructure as they build."

Hagbom found himself brushing off some hostile questions, but welcomed one about campaign contributions that he acknowledged has come up repeatedly.

"I made the statement that in the last campaign that I would not solicit from developers," said Hagbom, "I did not and have not in this campaign."

Hagbom added that a campaign contribution from a developer in his previous campaign was donated to the Azalea Park Foundation.

Nuss argued that since campaign contributions are comingled, donating a contribution to a park fund wouldn't necessarily prevent a mayor from being influenced.

"The Mayor raised $5,300 for a volunteer position, and had so much money that he was able to give Larry Curry a $1,000," said Nuss, who advocates campaign reform.

"When you have to raise that much for a volunteer position, there's something wrong," said Nuss, adding that she spent less than $2,000 in her previous campaign.

Brookings City Council Seat No. 4

Incumbent Lorraine Kuhn and challenger Craig Mickelson both said it is important to weigh owner's property rights against a conflicting neighborhood consensus.

Both advocated managed growth, but it was Kuhn who was most specific about the issue that needs to be addressed as the Borax Annex is developed.

"A master plan has to be submitted, and they've got to make sure they provide water," said Kuhn, who said water is one of the most important issues the city council will face in the coming year.

Mickelson said he would also be firm about making developers meet infrastructure needs.

"I think the term ‘managed' is the key," said Mickelson. "I'm a strong advocate of managed growth, it's going to happen, we need to be ready for it."

Curry County Commission Seat No. 1

Incumbent Rachelle Schaaf and challenger Ralph Brown differed primarily one thing: what types of experience each offers voters.

"I have the experience Curry County needs, and frankly, my opponent doesn't," said Brown, who cited his 20 years of experience working with state and federal agencies as a businessman and member of various commissions.

"They need someone who can work with people, not the high-handed attitude that caused so many bad feelings," said Brown, apparently referring to Schaaf's handling of the placement of a county residence for mentally ill people.

Schaaf countered that she has not only gained much practical experience since being appointed to the commission, she demonstrated her ability to work with the community in her handling of the Driftwood House project.

"It needed immediate action, our mentally ill people needed a place to live," Schaaf explained at the Gold Beach forum. "The way the project was presented to me, I didn't think the residents would be a threat."

Once she learned some neighbors of the project site were upset about its location, Schaaf said, she immediately scheduled a community meeting to discuss the matter.

Curry County Sheriff

Incumbent Curry County Sheriff Kent Owens and challenger Mark Creighton disagreed about how to manage manpower and provide quick response times to calls.

"We need to manage the manpower we have a little better, it just has to be used correctly," said Creighton, a Curry County deputy who believes it is possible to provide deputies in each community.

While Creighton believes that can be done with existing manpower, Sheriff Owens does not.

"You can't fund deputies in each community with the current funding source," said Owens, who said that after failing twice to get voter approval of a levy tax to increase funding, he will not try a third time.

"The voter's message was clear: provide service within existing budget constraints," said Owens. "I think I've done an effective job of doing that."

State representative

Incumbent Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, and Democratic challenger Dave Tilton shared similar views on several issues they were asked about, but disagreed sharply on Measure 25, the minimum wage initiative on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Although both said they have creating a better climate for small business growth as one of their goals, Tilton supports Measure 25 and Krieger doesn't.

"People who are working minimum wage jobs shouldn't have to choose between paying the rent and eating," said Tilton, noting that single women with children as well as teenagers are working in such jobs.

"I don't support it as it's written, it's indexed to inflation," said Krieger. "I think minimum wage should be increased incidentally, but not indexed."

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