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SOU student runs for Hearn's council seat

ASHLAND ' Southern Oregon University student Corky Gardner, who edits an alternative publication, will take on City Council Position 6 incumbent Chris Hearn, a land-use attorney, in November's election.

Hearn was appointed to fill a council vacancy last year. He lost a close election to Cate Hartzell for a council seat in 2000. He served five years on the Ashland Planning Commission.

As a council person the ideal is to have an open mind and not too many preconceived ideas, said Hearn.

The two top issues facing the city ' handling growth and maintaining Ashland's character ' present a paradox, said Hearn. Under Oregon law the city must absorb growth. But a lack of affordable housing emerges, said Hearn.

Hearn favors keeping the city's urban growth boundary tight. The biggest thing we've done ' we haven't expanded the UGB, he said.

Methods to let people know earlier about city decisions that will affect them should be enhanced, said Hearn. A lot of people don't really care until it's in their back yard, said Hearn.

Hearn, who served on the citizens budget committee two years ago, said the city has controlled budget inflation by limiting the creation of new positions in recent years.

Gardner would like to open city government to more community involvement.

I'd like to see more attention paid to students and their interests, said Gardner. She also favors special public meetings to hear what people have to say.

Gardner said her lack of government experience could bring a new perspective to the council. I don't have biases. I'm willing to listen to folks, she said.

The city's main issue is the challenge to the current big box ordinance, said Gardner.

There's really the potential to make this a big town like Medford, said Gardner. Keeping the current ordinance would be one way to keep the town small, she said.

Issues that affect students include a lack of affordable housing, transportation and discrimination against students, said Gardner. I would like to see a student taxi service, she said.

Gardner said she's tried to get students more involved in local government as editor of The Soapbox and through work with the Media Collective.

I want to keep Ashland green and small, said Gardner.

Reach Ashland bureau reporter Tony Boom at 482-4651, or e-mail