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It's a three-way race for mayor

A three-way race is taking shape to replace Mayor Gary Wheeler, with Councilor Clay Bearnson being the latest to announce his candidacy.

“I’m running because I’m emotionally and economically invested in Medford,” said Bearnson, who is co-owner of The Gypsy Blues bar in Medford and also an employee at The Oregon Farmacy, a downtown Medford cannabis store.

Bearnson is challenging former Medford police Chief Randy Sparacino and Councilor Kevin Stine for the mayor’s seat this November. (Go to https://bit.ly/3fkBIvZ for more information about their candidacies).

Sparacino and Bearnson have turned in their paperwork with the city recorder, but Stine said he would be submitting his paperwork by the end of the month.

Wheeler has decided not to run for reelection.

The deadline for filing for both the mayor and councilor positions is Aug. 25.

While the mayor is a volunteer, nonpartisan position, Bearnson said he’s proudly not a member of any political party because of his belief that the community and the country need more independent and objective leadership.

“Partisan politics still pervert our public policy,” he said.

He said he has long had a strong belief in questioning authority that remains with him to this day.

“I’m here to uphold the rights of my predecessors and right their wrongs,” Bearnson said.

The 44-year-old Medford resident has lived here since 1985 and has watched the population double in that time.

“I see that the demographic of Medford is changing considerably,” Bearnson said. “I want to shed the old stereotypes of ‘deadford’ or ‘methford.’”

He said he wants to bridge the generational divide between millennials and other generations to work toward solutions for the city.

He said Medford has already taken strides to make many changes, including its recent efforts to find solutions for homelessness and drug addiction.

Going forward, he said the city needs to have equal amounts of enforcement and services to deal with these problems.

“I don’t support criminalizing homelessness,” he said.

He said he supports a more compassionate approach to deal with homelessness and drug addiction, because of how closely linked the two problems are.

He said it’s fine to put someone through an eight-week sobriety program, but the person needs to have somewhere to live to help keep them off drugs.

Too often the city has provided money to organizations without seeing a marked improvement in tackling these problems, he said.

“We’re just banging our head against the wall, and we see no substantive results,” Bearnson said.

Recently though, he said, there are some promising signs, including the opening of emergency shelters that have been supported by the city, including Hope Village, the Kelly Shelter and an upcoming urban campground.

“People throughout Oregon are starting to say, ‘Hey, look at what’s going on down in Medford,’” Bearnson said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

Clay Bearnson.jpg
Clay Bearnson