By Curtis Longo
As long as I can remember, I’ve always made it a purpose to familiarize myself with where I live. The reasoning, of course, varied from knowing the location of the nearest liquor store, to having programmed my speed dial for the best delivery joint in town. Now that I have a family, that scope has widened tremendously and priorities have changed.
I’m a fairly recent newcomer to the Rogue Valley. With my time in the area, I’ve managed to become familiar enough with Grants Pass to find my way around. Now that we’ve decided to settle and grow some roots, I find my self thinking of more important questions to ask myself in terms of where I live. For instance, what are the schools like? What’s the crime rate? Where does this city stand regarding politics? What kind of harmony does this town have to offer
I am impressed with the pride and culture of Grants Pass. Walking down the sidewalks, you might find yourself admiring painted fiberglass bears, murals on doors, and decorated fire hydrants to boot. As you drive down 6th street, your eyes might be drawn to the banner which reads, “It’s the Climate.” I immediately think of the weather and, having tied on a year as a citizen of Grants Pass, I have gotten quite used to the irregularity in precipitation. One thing is certain, the occupants of this valley walk with heads held very high, rain or shine.
At first glance this town seems, pardon the cliché, too good to be true. I’m inclined to agree. But recently, there is a cloud above the city with winds of adversity that have loosened the political foundation of this quaint township.
In June of 2009, a recall campaign began after months of turmoil between the City Manager and some members of the City Council. By September, a vote took place to recall five members of the council giving way for another election, being held on March 9 , to replace the empty seat. Charges against the five included creating hostile work environments for the city employees and failure to understand the state’s public meetings laws.
The opposing wind in the midst of this storm is the lack of information on the candidates as there will be no voters pamphlets for this off-season election. The recall campaign was estimated to cost between $20-$25,000, thus resulting in the lack of funds to produce any informational prospectus. So where do we, as responsible voters, find the knowledge of the candidates to make a more informed decision at the polls?
I had the pleasure of mediating a City Council Candidate Forum organized by fellow students of Rogue Community College. The event took place this last Tuesday evening in the Rogue Auditorium at the Redwood Campus with nine of twelve candidates in attendance. The nearly two hour forum provided students and community members with information and candidate viewpoints sparsely available otherwise.
Throughout the event, council candidates answered questions with a variety of concerns ranging from ideas on improving the local economy to public education and safety. One of the most important questions on my mind was, how do we prevent this recall from happening again?
Dan De Young, city council candidate running for the North West Ward, answers this question with confidence saying, “I feel this is a group you can depend on. Keep in mind that five people on the City Council are a majority, making this a far more important election than the regular voting cycle. I believe every one of these candidates are highly qualified to take a seat on the council.”
My hope is that Mr. De Young is right. It would be a shame to see this city slowed in its journey by a lack of responsible leadership. I believe the true responsibility, however, remains on the shoulders of the voters. I encourage you, educate yourself, no matter the means. Learn about the candidates. Learn about the men and women who will be facilitating the decisions about the city you may live in.
Regardless of the “climate,” I do have confidence that this place we call home and its citizens will weather the storm, good or bad, and that where I live is the best place to raise my family. But please, if you care about where you live, vote.