• Gold Hill mayoral candidates lay out visions for city

  • GOLD HILL — Mayor Bucky Steffen says he wants to stay his current course and guide the city toward economic development, while former Councilwoman Jan Fish says the city could use a better road map.
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  • GOLD HILL — Mayor Bucky Steffen says he wants to stay his current course and guide the city toward economic development, while former Councilwoman Jan Fish says the city could use a better road map.
    Steffen is seeking a third two-year term, while Fish, who left the council in 2006 with two four-year terms under her belt, hopes to return to City Hall as mayor and help the Gold Rush-era town capitalize on its historical and recreational assets.
    Elected in November 2008, Steffen said that while his time on the council had been somewhat frustrating, with typical "small-town politics," infighting among council members and a lack of citizen involvement, he wanted to stick around for better days.
    "I have days where I just feel like I've been beating my head against the wall," Steffen said. "Citizens don't really have an interest anymore unless it's something that involves them personally, which is something I still want to change.
    "I want to get our constituents up and running and involved in city politics or otherwise it's going to be just like it always has been. I really feel like I've brought some stability to the community during my two terms."
    Both Fish and Steffen are in favor of developing parks, reviving the downtown and addressing the city's infrastructure needs.
    The co-owner of Laurel Hill Golf Course with her husband, Peter, Fish is no stranger to city government or community involvement.
    In addition to eight years on the council, Fish has served in various volunteer capacities and helped spearhead construction and funding of a city skateboard park in honor of their late son.
    Of her return to city politics, Fish said she was eager to step in and take on some projects to benefit the city.
    "I don't have a huge platform, but I do think there are some infrastructure issues the city needs to take a long hard look at and see if we can apply for grants to take care of," she said.
    "Now that we have a city manager on board, he can be very useful in those things. I'm encouraged to have him on board."
    While Fish nearly resigned in frustration at one point in 2006, she finished her term under what she called less than ideal conditions.
    "There had been so much unpleasantness, which was pretty demoralizing, and it was just a really awful experience," said Fish, noting that the time was marked by council resignations and political upheaval related to the city's now-defunct police force and issues with public works.
    "People seem to be working through their problems better now — at least that's what it looks like at council meetings," Fish said.
    "I'm familiar with city business and I take it fairly seriously because I've been in this community for 35 years. It's a place I care a lot about and I'd like to see it be as professional as possible."
    Known for his long, white beard and his motorcycle, which can often be seen parked downtown, Steffen voiced concern that previous city officials were staging a return to City Hall.
    In addition to Fish's bid for the mayor's seat, former Mayor Gus Wolf is seeking a council member position.
    "It just seems like we take two steps backwards for every step forward. We need new blood in there, new ideas and people that aren't stuck on the same old personal agendas and vendettas," he said.
    "As far as I'm concerned, people take an oath to serve the city and they don't quit unless they're done."
    Councilwoman Christine Alford, a vocal critic of Steffen who did not seek re-election, said she was encouraged that previous council members were willing to return and work on the city's future with newly hired interim city manager Dale Shaddox.
    "I hope the voters will support their neighbors who have submitted their names for these seats," she said.
    Buffy Pollock is a freelance reporter living in Medford.
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