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July 1, 2006 Open council seat draws a crowd Hardesty’s widow among several seeking to fill vacancy By Robert Plain Ashland Daily Tidings Eight people have expressed an interest in filling the vacant post on the five-member city counc

Open council seat draws a crowd

Hardesty’s widow among several seeking to fill vacancy

Eight people have expressed an interest in filling the vacant post on the five-member city council, which will vote to fill the position July 17 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers on East Main Street. The deadline for filing was 5 p.m. Friday.

The most notable name on the list of candidates was Alice Hardesty.

Jack Hardesty’s widow wants to replace her husband on the Ashland City Council. Shortly after her husband’s death on May 23, due to heart failure, Alice began considering whether she would be ready, emotionally, to fill his position.

On Thursday, sources close to her said she was still undecided.

Hardesty previously told the Tidings she had decided against seeking the seat. But on Thursday afternoon, she filed the necessary paper work with the city recorder’s office, saying she was ready to continue where Jack left off.

“It is now more than a month since his death and I have had time to weigh the decision carefully,” Hardesty said in a letter to the mayor and council. “Consequently I have decided to go forward in hopes that I will be appointed.”

Currently the Vice Chair of the Ashland Housing Commission, Hardesty provided some insight into the motivating factor behind her decision.

“I would like to carry on his legacy to the extent that I can. He was elected by the voters and I probably know him better than anyone,” she wrote.

She added in an interview, “I can’t say I would be in lock-step with every one of his opinions but I would try to do what he set out to do.”

Hardesty said affordable housing programs for Ashland would be her main priority on the council. Her husband’s primary focus at the time of his death was downtown planning.

Prior to retiring to Ashland, Hardesty worked in Washington D.C. for both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. She also ran her own consulting firm for a time.

“My long career in the federal government has provided me with skills in management, critical analysis and teamwork,” she said in her letter. “It has taught me patience and perseverance, both of which are necessary for the conduct of any public office.”

Hardesty said she will “probably” run for her husband’s seat in November as well, but hasn’t yet made a final decision.

Other local notables are also also vying to fill the vacant council seat.

Colin Swales, who came within one vote of being appointed to the city council in June after Chris Hearn resigned, has also filed for the council position. Swales, a political ally of Jack Hardesty, had previously been endorsed by Alice to fill her husband’s council seat.

On Friday, he wrote in an e-mail, “Obviously, when I learned this morning that Alice had also applied, my first thought was to withdraw. But ‘appointments’ unlike a democratic election race, are purely the political choice of 5 remaining councilors. And some on the council may, for some reason, decide not to pick Alice.”

A former Ashland Planning Commission who was not re-appointed by former Mayor Alan DeBoer, Swales has stayed active in the planning process, in part, by raising objections to several large developments in Ashland. It was he who appealed the Bemis project to both the City Council and then the state Land Use Board of Appeals, where the decision to approve the project was overturned, and he also alerted the city to the fact that the more recent Northlight development did not adhere to a 20-ft setback on the northeast side of Lithia Way.

Phil Lang, another Ashland activist, has also filed for Hardesty’s vacant seat on the council.

Lang is currently appealing a planning decision not to grant him a variance for an addition to his garage. He has filed an ethics violation against four city employees for the handling of his variance request. Lang has also been critical of the city council for accepting free tickets to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Two former Ashland City Councilors have also expressed interest in being appointed to the interim council position: Steve Hauck and Greg Williams.

Hauck, a councilor from 1993 to 2000, has also served on the board of directors for the Rogue Valley Transportation District and the Ashland School district Budget Committee. He has a degree in political science from the University of Oregon and a masters degree in management from Southern Oregon University.

“As a city councilor, I primarily focused on transportation issues, social services, affordable housing, open space conservation, technology and planning,” he said in a letter. “There are still issues I care deeply about and would like to work with our community in finding solutions to these and other challenges we face.”

Williams is also a former city councilor. Since this appointment will only last for five months until the election in November, he feels it is important to appoint someone with previous experience. He also feels it is important to appoint someone who will not be also campaigning for the November election.

“Since this is a very short term, I believe someone such as me, who has served on the council for over five years, would be an excellent choice,” he said in a letter. “Since I have no intention of running for the Council, I feel that my holding of the position will not influence the race for the position.”

Doug Hewett, a Peace House and Interfaith Care Community of Ashland volunteer, has also expressed an interest in the position. Hewett works as a shuttle driver for the Courtyard by Marriott in Medford, is also an appointee on the Democratic Precinct Committee. He said his biggest issue would be to bring more jobs to Ashland.

“I want to help my community,” he said. “We have all this new construction happening. It would be nice to get some jobs to go with all these new houses. I’d like to see better jobs.

John Jory, who recently retired to Ashland from the Los Angeles three years ago, said he thinks he can help achieve consensus on a sharply divided city council. He said his most important issue was accommodating for growth while maintaining Ashland’s charm is his biggest political issue.

“Ashland is in a position to accommodate for growth without losing the ambiance we have,” he said.

Charles Delgado, who has a degree in political science from Columbia University, has a background in financial services, insurance and mortgage financing. He is now self-employed as a notary and a writer. On his application, he said, “I have well-established family roots in the community,” as Dr. John Delgado is his brother, he said.

Staff writer Robert Plain can be reached at 482-3456 x. 226 or bplain@dailytidings.com.

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