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July 18, 2006 Talent seats up for grabs in November Massive council turnover a possibility By Alan Panebaker Ashland Daily Tidings A lame duck mayor and five open city council seats in Talent make the town ripe for some changes come Nov

Talent seats up for grabs in November

Massive council turnover a possibility

A lame duck mayor and five open city council seats in Talent make the town ripe for some changes come Nov. 7.

Mayor Marian Telerski has announced her decision not to run again along with councilors Dawn Watson and Don Steyskal. Councilor Brian Roberts was unavailable for comment, but other members said he would probably run again. No councilors are making any public assumptions for the election’s outcome, but the numbers show it could be exciting. Telerski said earlier this month that it may be time for some new residents of Talent to get involved, and there may be enough seats open for anyone who wants to run.

“It’s not like we’re not open to it,” Talent City Councilor EJ McManus said of new people in the open seats. “It’ll be interesting.”

A huge switch on the city council might change the direction the city heads, and current councilors hope it is for the better.

“I just want to see things changing for the city, not just what the mayor wants,” McManus said.

McManus was appointed to the council after a resignation and must run in November’s election to stay in office for the remaining two years of his term.

Wendy Siporen, the only councilor who does not have to run for re-election, said she hopes new people share her excitement and decide to give politics a shot.

“I think our challenge as a city that’s going through a demographic change is to engage our new residents,” Siporen said. “I would encourage some of our new residents to get involved in our city.”

Talent’s expansion may bring with it some more growing pains. The business community’s slow pace of growth compared to the residential side has some people worried Talent will turn into a suburb of Ashland rather than a thriving community of its own. With so many seats open, the governmental shift could have a drastic change on where the community goes. Election is a few short months away, and City Manager Betty Wheeler said she has yet to develop an official list of candidates who want to run for the two open council seats or mayor’s position.

One Talent man, Steve Traisman, said he wants to run for the mayor’s seat. Traisman has lived in the Valley since 1994. He is a local writer and has organized World Peace and Prayer Day in Ashland for the past eight years. Traisman said his main goal if elected would be to bring back the fun to Talent with things like free concerts in the park every Sunday. He wants Talent to be able to sustain itself with young people living there.

“We don’t want Talent to become like Ashland where families can’t live there,” Traisman said.

He added that his campaign would shoot to make the town more accessible and welcoming to Hispanic families. For Traisman, this is a crucial time for Talent.

“I think Talent is at a crossroads,” he said. “We could be a creative Greenwich Village, or we could become North Ashland and hand it over to the developers.”

Traisman has yet to acquire the necessary signatures to get on the ballot.

For retiring city councilors Don Steyskal and Dawn Watson, being involved in Talent politics doesn’t necessarily require being on the city council. Steyskal said he plans to remain on the planning commission, and Watson said she would continue to stay involved in different ways.

“I like it because I’m of the opinion that planning drives everything else,” Steyskal said.

Despite a possibly massive turnover, the experienced Talent politicians are sending the message that they will stick around in some fashion. Steyskal will keep offering his opinion on how Talent will grow, and Watson, like most other Talent politicians, is hoping for more interest. She’s optimistic.

“Talent is growing, and a lot of people are showing up to volunteer,” Watson said.

To obtain information about running for Talent city government, contact City Manager Betty Wheeler at 535-1566 or visit www.cityoftalent.org.

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

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