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Patridge should serve both city and OLCC

The city of Medford receives nearly $1 million with almost $3 million pouring into the Rogue Valley annually from liquor taxes. The OLCC generates over $1 billion per biennium and is Oregon’s third largest revenue source. Having a voice in maximizing Oregon Liquor Control Commission revenue is important. In addition to producing revenue, ensuring reasonable policies governing our wineries, breweries and distilleries as well as agriculture and hospitality industries is critical.

The direct and indirect revenue impacts of the OLLC pay for critical local services like police, fire, schools, mental health and other human services. The city of Medford has an opportunity to ensure our seat at the table by hiring Rob Patridge as its next city manager and allowing him to continue his service as chairman of the OLCC.

Medford always fights for relevancy on the statewide stage. The newspaper and citizens constantly complain that our voice is never heard. Now we have an opportunity to choose a proven leader and manager, with a significant statewide connection, and the Mail Tribune in its editorial wants to sever that connection?

The City Council did a good job of negotiating Patridge’s contract. The council provided a contract provision that will not allow him to serve on the OLCC if there is a negative impact. The Oregon attorney general has already weighed in on any potential conflict of interest and said Patridge’s dual role is appropriate.

The city of Medford relies on volunteers, as does the state. Others in our region serve: Dave Lohman, city attorney for the city of Ashland,  on the Oregon Transportation Commission and Dan Golden, juvenile director for Klamath County, on the State Ethics Commission. The benefit of having Patridge serve is far greater than any cost to Medford.

Asking Patridge to resign his OLCC position before he starts as city manager would do Medford and our region a disservice. He is a professional and has been able to manage his district attorney job and the OLCC at the same time. The Klamath County commissioners have supported his OLCC service because they see the benefits. He knows the city manager job comes first and has been clear about that from the start.

Patridge is an out-of-the-box thinker. He is an experienced lawyer of 23 years, with more real life public policy experience than those who teach masters courses in public policy. He is collaborative, transparent, honest and friendly, and knows how to deliver.

Most important, Patridge knows Medford. We do not have to take years to introduce him to the community. He and his family are committed to Medford and care deeply about our community. On day one, his knowledge of city staff, council members and the community will jump-start the ability of the council to set and pursue a clear vision.

Patridge is a proven leader and has played a significant role in building Southern Oregon. Whether working to secure funding for the Santo Center, RCC/SOU Higher Education Center, SOU Library, U.S. Cellular Sports Park or the $1 million he secured for the Bear Creek Greenway, he gets things done. He understands Medford and knows what it takes to help recruit and retain jobs for the region.

Patridge has not held the title of city manager but is a proven manager. He was brought on board at the OLCC four years ago to change the culture. He not only succeeded but also took on recreational marijuana in the process. His work has been recognized internationally. Governors, legislators, local government, law enforcement, public health officials and the marijuana entrepreneurs have praised him for his work. When the Klamath County District Attorney’s Office was broken and had the largest backlog of criminal cases in the state, Patridge was recruited by the governor and went in and cleaned up and repaired the culture there.

Patridge has strong private-sector experience. As the general counsel for Pacific Retirement Services/Rogue Valley Manor, one of Medford’s largest employers, he was a key member of the executive management team. Patridge has been an innovator in information technology in his many roles. Significantly, Patridge has Oregon land-use experience that will be critical to Medford and our region’s success.

Patridge is a proven leader and manager. The city of Medford needs leadership and management of its staff. Patridge will bring transparency, collaboration and communication to the council, helping heal some of the tension that exists.

Give Rob Patridge a chance to do both jobs — he’s delivered every time.

Curt Bennett is a former member of the Medford City Council.