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Medford Ward 3: John Statler

Editorial

His experience with west Medford issues and his goals tip the scales

West Medford has many needs, among them the need for voices in city government to press the case for helping the lower-income areas of town. So it's refreshing to see that the one contested race for a council seat comes in west Medford's Ward 3, where two active members of the community are running.

The two candidates are John Statler, who runs a small business and is an advocate for the homeless, and Michael Torguson, an educator who serves on the city's Communications Advisory Committee.

While both are viable candidates, our endorsement goes to Statler because of his on-the-ground experience as a west Medford resident and his calls for creating a more open city government that values participation even when it doesn't agree with the participants' points of view.

Statler lives in the Beatty-Manzanita area, north of downtown Medford. It has been identified as a blighted area and Statler sees the effects of that blight in his daily life. But he also sees a neighborhood with the potential to be a compact, livable and affordable area. Achieving that will require a advocate who is willing to push against the status quo and demand that basics like sidewalks and street lighting in poor areas should come before landscaping at City Hall.

Statler has served on a city transportation advisory committee and previously ran for the City Council, narrowly losing to Claudette Moore in 2002. But he has served the people in his neighborhood and other neighborhoods of West Medford by pushing for improved housing, better jobs and better health care. He has been active with the Rogue Valley Community Development Corp., which rehabilitates homes in order to provide affordable housing to low-income people. And he has worked with an organization that advocates for low-income people on the Oregon Health Plan.

We also were impressed with Statler's determination to make the Medford Council Chambers a more hospitable place for people who come to testify before the City Council. He says, rightly, that it is intimidating to get up before the council on an issue and that it is incumbent upon the council and the city staff to make speakers feel that their views are respected, even if the majority of the council disagrees with them. That has not always been his experience.

Torguson is a bright fellow who works as an educator for Asante Health Systems and teaches government courses through Rogue Community College. He has served for two years on the city's Communication Advisory Committee, which reviews complaints about city departments. He does not, however, have Statler's depth of knowledge or personal background on issues that hit close to home in Ward 3.

Statler would be a valuable addition to the council, providing a voice and a perspective that is rarely heard on that body. We urge Ward — voters to elect John Statler to the Medford City Council.