Both candidates for the mayor's race in Phoenix agree that some change is in order, but each has a different take on what change should happen and how it should be funded.
With Mayor Carlos DeBritto stepping down after a long tenure at City Hall, Councilman Jeff Bellah will square off against former council member Steve Schulman.
Bellah, a longtime government employee and head of the city's ad hoc water committee before joining the council, said he felt the biggest difference between himself and Schulman would be their philosophy on government spending.
Bellah is a proponent of careful spending and paying down debt, while Schulman said the cash-strapped town should consider creative funding ideas, possibly even bonds or loans, to ensure future development.
Head of the Phoenix Urban Renewal Agency board for three years, Schulman, who retired from a career in business administration, said the city is at a crossroads, facing a host of opportunities that could determine its future.
"The Fern Valley interchange, along with the work being done by the Urban Renewal Agency, will provide Phoenix with a doorway to the future," said Schulman.
"All Phoenix needs to do is seize the moment and step through the door. In order to accomplish this, we must use every tool available — be it grants, bonds, loans or whatever."
Schulman added, "If we as a city try to save for every expenditure, we will stay behind the curve and never attain our rightful place in the Rogue Valley."
While Bellah agreed that the interchange and urban renewal will affect the city's future growth, he said focusing on careful management of funds would better serve the city.
"I'm a fiscal conservative, and one thing that concerns me in a small town is that we don't have a lot of money to waste, so when I see things like a loan intended to be paid off and never paid off, I get worried," he said.
"I was a pretty loud voice throughout the budget process. I just think it's important to manage money carefully and not live off borrowed money."
Both Bellah and Schulman agreed the city government, known for numerous closed meetings and a large number of council resignations, could use more positive energy and better communication with residents.
"Sending a little newsletter attached to the water bill once a quarter isn't really keeping people informed," said Bellah. "We have to do better than that if we want to get citizens involved."
In addition to his time on the water committee, Bellah has served on the Budget Committee. Before retirement, the 59-year-old served in the Army and worked for the Postal Service and Department of Veteran Affairs for nearly four decades.
Schulman, 73, most recently managed a Blockbuster store in Grants Pass and has held a number of management positions in Oregon. He previously lived in several Southern states where he worked for private businesses in various retail administrative roles.
Both Bellah's and Schulman's resumes include one year on the City Council. A former council member, Schulman left after a year in 2005 to accept a job offer in Grants Pass. Bellah was appointed to the council in 2011 to fill one of several vacancies created by resignations.
In addition to the mayor's race, three council seats are on the Nov. 6 ballot, along with three candidates for those seats. Barring a successful write-in campaign, they each will be elected to the council.
In addition to the seat being vacated by Bellah, seats currently held by councilwomen Carolyn Bartell and Diana Nelson are available.
Nelson is not seeking re-election while Bartell is vying for another term. Former council members Terry Helfrich and Stan Bartell also are on the ballot.
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.