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MailTribune.com
  • Medford council studies creating stipend

  • Ascarcity of candidates for the Medford City Council seat formerly held by the late Karen Blair prompted some councilors to ask for a study about making their jobs a paid position.
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  • Ascarcity of candidates for the Medford City Council seat formerly held by the late Karen Blair prompted some councilors to ask for a study about making their jobs a paid position.
    "Two weeks ago, I would have been dead set against it," Councilor Daniel Bunn said.
    Bunn said he "begged" two residents to apply for the council position left open after Blair died June 11, but the residents declined because it's an unpaid position.
    To try to fill the vacancy before the election in November, the council decided to seek applications from residents of Ward 2. The council typically likes to have three applicants to choose from when appointing someone.
    The deadline for filing was 5 p.m. Friday, and two candidates had filed their applications, though not all of the details were available.
    One of the candidates is Marlene Nuckols, owner of MaryJane's Attic and Basement.
    MaryJane's lost its business license with the city of Medford earlier this month in a dispute over sales of medical marijuana.
    Nuckols' Facebook page indicates she filed her paperwork for council with the city on Friday.
    She also indicated she is seeking another business license from the city to reopen her clothing store.
    The deadline to file for the election in November is Aug. 15.
    Bunn said he'd be willing to study the possibility of making the council a paid position but wasn't sure he could ultimately endorse it.
    "I don't know if we're ready to cross that bridge," he said.
    After Bunn expressed frustration about his inability to attract candidates, council voted by a slim majority on Thursday to study the idea of paying councilors.
    Councilor John Michaels made the motion to study the creation of a paid position, saying it has been financially difficult for him to give up paid hours of work to donate his time to the council.
    "It's getting hard to pull in other candidates who want to run," Michaels said.
    He said that paying councilors is an issue that would have to be put to the voters.
    Despite his willingness to study the idea, Michaels said he also sees the benefit in not being paid.
    "There is a certain luxury when somebody throws it in your face, 'I pay your way,' " he said.
    Councilor Bob Strosser said he was opposed to the idea, saying he didn't think serving on the council should be tied to pay.
    Strosser was joined by councilors Dick Gordon and Tim Jackle in opposing Michaels' motion.
    Bunn, Michaels and Councilor Eli Matthews voted for it. Mayor Gary Wheeler broke the tie by supporting it.
    City staff will gather information about other cities that pay councilors.
    According to a 2006 survey by the League of Oregon Cities, 46 of the 137 cities that responded offered a stipend to councilors or the mayor.
    Central Point offered a $3,000 annual stipend to the mayor and $1,800 to its councilors. Ashland pays $500 to its mayor and $350 to its councilors, but elected officials receive a health and benefits package. Bend offered $2,400 to both the mayor and councilors.
    Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.
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