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Medford seeks candidates for vacant seat

A replacement for former councilor Karen Blair should be found as soon as possible, the Medford City Council decided Thursday.

The council held a memorial for Blair, who died of lung cancer last week. The council issued a proclamation in her behalf, and the city lowered flags to half staff.

"She was a true friend," said Councilor Eli Matthews. "She absolutely loved serving the city of Medford." Matthews served with Blair as a representative of Ward 2.

The council decided not to wait until the November election to fill Blair's vacant councilor seat.

"We need to move with all haste," Councilor Dick Gordon said.

Gordon said he is particularly busy handling calls from residents about issues with the city. He said the residents of Ward 2, in southwest Medford, need to have full representation on the council.

Only Councilor John Michaels expressed hesitation about appointing a councilor because it would take place a few months before the election.

"I'm not as inclined to go through with that," he said.

Mayor Gary Wheeler said the city charter states that an appointment should be made as soon as possible after a councilor seat goes vacant.

The qualifications for a councilor include being a registered voter, a resident of Ward 2 and a resident of the city for more than six months.

The appointment, which is an unpaid position, will last until the end of December.

Prospective candidates can obtain filing information and forms from the city recorder, Mayor/City Manager's Office, Medford City Hall, 411 W. Eighth St. The deadline for applying is 5 p.m. July 8.

Candidates need to collect 25 qualified signatures in the ward.

The city recommends collecting 30 signatures, which are verified by the Jackson County Elections Center.

The council will select a five-member citizen committee to review the applications and conduct interviews.

Once the committee makes its recommendation, the council will appoint a candidate, likely in August.

The city will ask that all candidates seeking the appointment also fill out the candidate's form to run in the November election. The deadline is Aug. 15.

If any candidates choose to opt out of the election, they can do so by Aug. 29.

Councilor Daniel Bunn said he thought it was in the best interest of the city to appoint someone.

"Let's get it filled as quickly as possible," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.