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Our choicesfor RVTD board

Editorial

Moore, Chapman and Skillmanoffer knowledge and common sense

The travails of the Rogue Valley Transportation District have been well documented in the past year. They included the mismanaged firing of the district's general manager, an air of secrecy around board decision-making and fractious board meetings that caused the word dysfunctional to commonly precede the words RVTD board.

So it is clearly time for a change. But voters need to be selective in their change, for two current board members up for election should not be tarred with the misdeeds of the whole board.

Our choices for the three RVTD board positions are current board members Dan Moore and Ed Chapman and challenger Connie Skillman.

Skillman's contest is the most compelling because she was a leader of an effort to recall five board members. Her opponents in the race for Position — include Eva Avery, the board chairwoman, who was a target of that recall.

We do not doubt that Avery is conscientious and dedicated to RVTD. But she has been at the helm as the district foundered through the fiasco of Sherrin Coleman's dismissal as general manager and as the board meetings degenerated into dysfunction.

— We also have grave concerns about the board's attitude toward openness and public meetings. Coleman's dismissal, for example, occurred after no discussion, either in a public meeting or in an executive session. We fear this board simply does not understand the importance of doing the public's business in public.

Skillman was one of many community members upset by the Coleman firing. But she brings more to the race than that. Her background includes managing a state Volunteer Service Program providing transportation for medical patients, involvement in county child abuse prevention and treatment programs and as founding director of a victim/witness assistance program. She has attended all but two RVTD meetings since becoming involved in the issue.

Skillman would be an ally of Chapman, who was the lone voice opposing the board's firing of Coleman. He has been on the board since 1982 and has repeatedly pledged to do the board's business in public.

Our only concern with Chapman is that he has become a regular combatant in the board debates and his sometimes belligerent approach in dealing with other board members has added to the discord. But he brings knowledge and common sense to a board that has needed both.

Chapman's challengers include Paul Avery, the husband of the board chairwoman. He is a defender of the current board majority and we see nothing that suggests he would change their approach to the job.

Our third recommendation, Moore, deserves credit for staying out of the squabbles and for focusing on the tasks rather than the personalities. Moore, who was appointed to the RVTD board in December, brings a strong background, with experience as a city planning director and in economic development. He is well suited to deal with the often-overwhelming bureaucracy that accompanies transportation issues.

Moore's two opponents are Gary Nelson, a retired bus driver, and Sharon Ely, a sight-impaired rider. Both have strengths, but we worry that Nelson would be the third strong union presence on the board. Ely has been involved with several boards involving services for disabled people and we hope she continues to be an advocate in that role.

Two other candidates on the ballot, Douglas Hewett for Position — and Rose Marie Mayer for Position 3, are regular riders but have little or no background in government or board operations.