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Phoenix will consider council candidates

PHOENIX — A short-handed Phoenix City Council will review applications from four residents at today's council meeting. The council, with three vacancies, has been forced to cancel two meetings recently due to the lack of a quorum.

Two of the applicants, Murray LaHue and Carolyn Bartell, are former City Council members. Also interested in the job are local businessman Will Moore, owner of Roscoe's BBQ, and Jeff Bellah, who served as chairman for the past year of an advisory committee tasked with reviewing water rates.

The council was reduced to four — three council members and the mayor — in early August after three resignations.

Council members Stan Bartell and Chris Luz resigned, they said at the time, to spare the city an expensive investigation.

Carolyn Bartell resigned in protest after Luz and her husband, Stan, resigned.

Mayor Carlos DeBritto alleged at the time that Bartell and Luz had interfered with City Manager Jane Turner's management of City Hall.

Turner retained an attorney, who said the two men subjected Turner to a hostile work environment and "a great deal of stress "… in addition to discrimination on the basis of her age."

Carolyn Bartell said Friday she regretted her resignation and felt she had an obligation to those who voted for her.

"I made a commitment to represent them, and that's why they voted me in," she said. "At the time I resigned, it seemed like the right thing to do. Looking back, I realized I should have fulfilled my commitment."

The council could opt to fill all three vacancies or none of them. With only three seated council members, all three must vote in favor of an applicant for an appointment to be valid.

LaHue, who lost to DeBritto in the 2006 mayor's race, has experience on the Budget Committee and Planning Commission.

He and Bellah were not available Friday for comment.

Moore, owner of Roscoe's, said he is eager to offer some fresh perspectives.

"I'm looking at it from a business standpoint. I see how things are for Phoenix, compared to Talent and Ashland. Tourists could come off that freeway and come do things here, but right now they just don't," Moore said.

"I really want to help this town maybe bring some jobs back and bring people in to spend time here. I've worked with Senator Alan Bates on some things that have worked out pretty well, so he's endorsing me. And I want to be the first black council member, make a little history.

"I've had a positive impact on the city with my business," Moore added, "so now I want to make positive impact as a councilman. I don't want to play politics. I want to benefit our city. The way I see it, if there are problems, there are always solutions, too."

In other business Monday, Phoenix City Council will discuss annexation of customers currently served by the Charlotte Ann Water District.

Several dozen households and a number of businesses inside city limits are being served by the outside water district. Inclusion of those customers would generate an additional $62,000 in added revenues for the city, officials estimated.

DeBritto said a decision to switch the residents to city water won't be popular, but it's the right thing to do.

"The whole situation is very unfair. They're getting water from the Medford Water District for cheaper than we can get it," said the mayor.

"The other issue is that when they call for service, when they need some work done, we get into a situation where those are our streets, but then Charlotte Ann Water district wants to come in and do some work."

After the city conducted a water-rate review, an appointed committee recommended annexation of Charlotte Ann customers inside city limits.

"I don't know how it's going to be received," DeBritto said. "Anytime there is a possibility of an increase in rates, people are not going to be happy, but sometimes that's just how it is."

Also at Monday's meeting, the council will hold an executive session to review the performance of the city manager and city attorney.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.