After interviewing three of the four candidates for Medford City Council Ward 3, we were impressed with all three. But Kristen "Kay" Brooks stood out.
The Mail Tribune Editorial Board sat down with Brooks, Chad McComas and Curt Turner to talk about the issues facing the city and, in particular, its lowest-income neighborhoods. A fourth candidate, Don Libby, did not attend the session. Libby, co-owner of a security firm, ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 2014 and for the Medford School Board in 2015.
McComas, pastor of Set Free Christian Fellowship and executive director of Rogue Retreat, a nonprofit agency working on behalf of the homeless, says affordable housing and help for the homeless are top priorities. He serves on the city's Housing Commission and has been instrumental in supporting a tiny house village for the homeless in Medford.
Turner, too, stresses affordable housing, and emphasizes job creation as a way to achieve his stated goal of creating a city his children won't want to leave when they grow up. He advocates an enterprise zone to encourage businesses to locate here, something that has been tried in the past without great success. Turner has served on the Site Plan and Architectural Commission since January.
Brooks, who lives with her daughter in the heart of the Beatty-Manzanita neighborhood, is grants coordinator for WorkSource Rogue Valley and serves on three city committees. Currently working on a sociology degree at Southern Oregon University, she plans to attend graduate school in public policy, and says she intends to run for the Legislature in the future as well.
Brooks is highly intelligent, very well-read — she admits to owning 5,000 books — and has done her homework on housing, neighborhood redevelopment and other issues facing Ward 3 and the entire city. She says the Medford Urban Renewal Agency should be extended and more projects completed for her neighborhood.
One of her ideas is to transform now-empty car lots along Central Avenue into a boulevard-style park. That may be overly optimistic, but it shows a vision for what could be accomplished. Brooks also has the endorsement of Kevin Stine, the other council member representing Ward 3.
We recommend Ward 3 voters elect Kay Brooks to the Medford City Council.