Two contested Medford City Council races pit newly appointed incumbent Eli Matthews against downtown businessman Clay Bearnson and incumbent Dick Gordon against challenger Curt Ankerberg. We narrowly side with Matthews and recommend Gordon over Ankerberg.
Matthews, 29, who works for Comnet Marketing, was appointed in May to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Jim Kuntz. He has served on a number of local boards and commissions, including the Medford Arts Commission and the Citizens Planning Advisory Committee. That community involvement gives him the edge over Bearnson.
Bearnson, 37, owner of the Gypsy Blues Bar on Eighth Street, applied for the appointment that went to Matthews. He joined the Parking Commission about the same time but has had little other civic involvement.
As a downtown merchant, Bearnson would bring a valuable perspective to the council, but he lacks Matthews' experience. We encourage him to continue being involved in civic matters and to try again for a council position.
Gordon, 69, a former administrator at Rogue Valley Medical Center, has been a valuable member of the council since his election in 2008. He has a thorough grasp of city business and the effects of state laws on city regulations, He serves on the board of the League of Oregon Cities.
Ankerberg, 59, is a certified public accountant who has run unsuccessfully for the council before and for the Medford School Board. We hope he is unsuccessful again this time.
Ankerberg is confrontational, argumentative and a thoroughly unpleasant individual when he is challenged. He has accused the City Council of "corruption" with no evidence, and is fond of firing off obscenity-laced emails.
We recommend voters re-elect Dick Gordon.
Oregon's House District 55 sprawls across Central Oregon from Prineville to the outskirts of Medford. Along the way it takes in all of Crook and Lake counties and parts of Deschutes, Klamath and Jackson, where it includes Prospect, Butte Falls and Shady Cove.
Rep. Mike McClain, R-Powell Butte, was elected in 2010, and quickly made his mark in Salem. He was the only freshman legislator named to the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee. This July he was appointed deputy leader of the House Republican Caucus — another post rarely handed to a first-term lawmaker.
Given that record, it would take a remarkable challenger to make a case for replacing him. Democrat John Huddle, a retired school psychologist from Prineville, is a hard-working advocate for causes he sees as important, but he has lived in the district only since 2006, and in Oregon only since 2001.
We recommend voters re-elect McLain.