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July 6, 2006 Talent Mayor Marian Telerski stands in front of the her office. BELOW: Telerski greets Oregon Governor Ted R. Kulongoski at Triangle Park before the start of the Fourth of July parade Tuesday in Ashland. Pho

Talent mayor to retire

After 16 years in city government, Marian Telerski is ready to move on

It’s been a good run for Talent Mayor Marian Telerski.

The potter-turned-politician has seen the small town north of Ashland go through a building moratorium, attempts at a massive city council recall and a building boom. She’s progressed from the parks commission up to city council and finally to two terms as mayor. She’s leaving the city in a growth spurt that will hopefully level out, and she said it’s time for some new blood to take over the Talent political scene. Telerski is not running for re-election this November.

“I feel that 16 years in city government not only was a tremendous education, it was practically a career,” Telerski said. “Most people have several jobs in that period of time. I believe it’s time for someone else to take the reins of government.”

Telerski will make her exit from the Talent City Hall shortly before the city builds a new one — along with a new library, a pedestrian bridge over bear creek and a revamped Highway 99 through town. The mayor said her adventure in small-town politics came more out of curiosity than a strong urge to take control. Telerski has always been a potter and focused on art, but moving to Talent nearly 20 years ago, she looked around at the sleepy little town and thought it might be her time to step in and help out.

“In 1990, I walked into City Hall and said, ‘this is my new city, what can I do?’” Telerski said.

Shortly thereafter, she joined the parks commission, and started working on things like installing trash cans at all the bus stops across town. The parks commission led to work with the Urban Renewal Agency, then city council and finally the mayor’s seat eight years ago. Telerski describes her political escalation in the small town as a progression. After about 16 years living in Ashland, she moved to Talent, bought a house and got to work.

“This was a very small town at the time, and there wasn’t much going on,” Telerski said. “It was at that time not considered a great place to build or a place to live.”

Now Talent seems like one of the only places to live in the Rogue Valley for young families. In fact, the population in Talent is getting younger on average. Although Telerski still sees most people in Talent working elsewhere, a new chamber of commerce is helping to create more business and improvements in the towns infrastructure are making even more things happen. Telerski admits she has learned a tremendous amount about politics in her time in Talent. She has worked to give the previously tiny town a big voice in regional politics and wants it to grow in a responsible way that will keep it on the right track.

“When I first moved here, I didn’t know what an urban growth boundary was,” Telerski said. “I thought it was just an accident there wasn’t a Safeway next to my house.”

The Talent mayor learned fast, though, and with some experience and expansion, the city of Talent has grown into its own with a grocery store, skate park and even a number of businesses lining Highway 99. After a four-year building moratorium, the city saw an explosion of people rushing to build houses on some of the last affordable land in the Valley. Telerski said city improvements are finally catching up with the growth of recent years, with a few added perks. For example, the new mayor will have an office — as opposed to the garage with a tarp over it that Telerski was supposed to work out of. The Talent mayor said she wants to see more businesses move into town instead of sitting on the outskirts. She wants to see more people get involved in the local government and hopes young families will filter in as more workforce housing is built.

Telerski is retiring from Talent politics along with a number of the city’s six city council members. She is slightly concerned people will not fill the vacant spots, but feels it is time for others to step into the position that is ready.

Don Steyskal, Talent City Council president, is also not running for re-election. He and Telerski landed in Talent at about the same time.

“Through Marian’s tenure, we have a system in place now that will strive for improvements instead of just trying to maintain the status quo,” Steyskal said.

Bob Wilson, another Talent city councilor, has known Telerski for 30 years. He said her professional approach to the job of mayor, and level-headed work have made Talent what it is today.

“She’s been just what we needed at this point in time,” Wilson said.

For the mayor, the future holds something new and exciting. She’s just not sure what that is. She wants to see people come in to the community who are willing to get involved. She is going to keep on with her job as a horticultural assistant with Ashland Parks and Recreation, and the rest may just fall into place.

“I think when you make changes in your life, you can either plan the next step, or you can open the door for it,” Telerski said. “I’m just excited about every day.”

Staff writer Alan Panebaker can be reached at 482-3456 x 227 or apanebaker@dailytidings.com.

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