The most contentious among the three contested races for seats on the Corvallis City Council is in Ward 7. Three candidates are vying for the seat vacated by Jeanne Raymond, who is not seeking re-election on Nov. 6.
The ones who would like to serve Ward 7 are electrical engineer Paul Woods, Oregon State University community economist Bruce Sorte and retired Naval officer and federal employee John H. Detweiler.
Wards 5 and 6 each have two candidates running; candidates are running unopposed in the other six wards.
Through their answers to a questionnaire from the Gazette-Times and their participation in a two-hour town hall forum Monday, the three candidates offered a wide range of views on city issues — and a wide range of solutions.
One of the key issues facing the city is the relationship between Oregon State and the city, particularly in neighborhoods that are facing livability issues related to the explosive growth of OSU’s student population.
“Getting some leverage against landlords is worth investigating,” said Woods. “If we can quell that (neighborhood problems) that would be a sign of success. We need an enforcement mechanism, or ‘stick.’
“The vacancy rate is creating a huge drive for students to find housing in places they didn’t used to look.”
Sorte, who has been endorsed by Raymond, has offered a pair of key proposals to address the issue.
First, Sorte would increase the monthly payment from landlords to the city for each rental from $1 to $2 and use the money to help the Corvallis Police Department and the university deal with off-campus student matters.
Sorte also wants to address the parking issue by changing and extending the current parking districts.
Detweiler suggested that the university needs to pay for its share of city services.
“We have to work something out where they pay for fire and police resources, and we deduct that from the property taxes the public pays,” he said.
All three candidates are concerned about the city’s budget shortages.
“The most important things are police and fire, followed by the library, social services, parks and rec and the pool last,” said Detweiler. “I don’t think we have that much choice. You are always going to gore someone’s ox.”
“We need to balance the budget without panicking,” urged Sorte. “We need to compromise and work to preserve all the things we care about in Corvallis.”
“We already cut into fire, which could potentially harm people in this city,” said Woods, who spoke in the session Monday at the Scott Zimbrick Memorial Fire Station No. 5 — which was closed earlier this year due to budget cuts.
“Eventually we will get down to things in which we have to say we just cannot afford this. My main goal is restoring that tax base in time. Otherwise we will have wrenching cuts.”
The current budget cycle got a boost from an operating levy passed by the voters, which helps pay for the Corvallis Senior Center and Osborn Aquatic Center plus some library and social service functions.
The current City Council has suggested it might ask for a five-year levy once the current three-year model expires June 30, 2014.
“I would look at it carefully,” said Sorte. “Sometimes you have to go to the voters for, in order, fees, levies and then general taxes. We need to get the problem well-defined. These are tough economic times.”
“I prefer not to have a levy,” said Woods, “but I would not prevent it from going to the voters.”
Woods said he would recommend a general fund levy, rather than one that would spend the money on specific city services.
Detweiler was blunt on the matter.
“I didn’t support that one and won’t support this one,” he said. “If you put things in a levy that means they have a higher utility than other things in the budget.”
This article has been republished, the original copy is found at: http://www.gazettetimes.com/news/local/elections/city/open-ward-corvallis-city-council-seat-draws-most-contested-race/article_953e08a0-1a44-11e2-b904-0019bb2963f4.html