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Talent council loses two members in fallout of fire

TALENT— Fallout from the Almeda fire is among factors cited by a pair of long-serving Talent City Council members who have announced their resignations.

Stephanie Dolan, whose business site was destroyed by the Sept.8 fire, and Daria Land, whose home was lost to the flames, announced their departures at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Dolan’s resignation will be effective Dec. 17, the day after the last scheduled meeting of the year. Land’s departure will be effective Dec. 31.

Both had been appointed the council in 2017 and won election to four-year seats in November 2018. As councilors, they also served on the Talent Urban Renewal Agency Baord of Directors.

Land is executive director of the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market. She raised her family in town and refers to it as “Talentopia.”

“In all honesty,” she told the council, “the breadth and scope of the work I do as the executive director of a company during COVID with 158 businesses that rely on me; the loss of home and navigating insurance and the possible rebuilding processes; along with TURA and city council, the burden was just too much for me.”

Land also called on the council to address issues of trust and faith between employees and city elected leaders. Land referenced a letter sent in June by 10 city employees calling for the resignations of Mayor Darby Ayers-Flood and Councilor Emily Berlant. The letter cited a lack of respect and support for Police Department staff.

“It is my hope, as we look to 2021, that our council takes a deep look at its own leadership,” she said. “What are the strengths and what are the needs for improvement?

“I encourage the council and our mayor to look at a more power-with rather than a power-over style of leadership and include more listening, collaboration and consensus.”

Dolan, an attorney, lost the office for her firm, Legal Pad, in the Almeda fire. She said that COVID-19 had reduced her business.

Dolan will move to Eugene, where she will seek new career opportunities and also be closer to her parents, who recently moved to Portland from Southern California.

Dolan wrote in her resignation that she and her parents are “climate refugees.” She said her parents had experienced several evacuations due to wildfires while living in Southern California.

“My heart goes out to all of my colleagues, and to all the current and displaced residents of Talent,” Dolan wrote in her resignation. “I wish you all the very best of luck, patience, fortitude, resilience, and the will to form and sustain collative partnerships over the next several years that it will take to recover and rebuild.”

As a city council member, Dolan spearheaded the creation and approval of an Integratned Pest Maangment Policy to phase out use of synthetic pesticides on city-controlled land. She also worked with others to create pollinator gardens in the city.

Dolan said she was proud of efforts she worked on to establish Talent as an All-Age Friendly City with AARP and also helping to revive the Economic Development Commission.

“Thanks to Stephanie for her service and her camaraderie. You have brought so many good things to Talent and the Southern Oregon Region even before ending up on this council,” Berlant said.

“Thank you for your support the last few years. I have learned a lot from you,” Coucilor John Harrison told both councilors. “You are very smart, passionate, professional women.”

The City Council will make appointments to fill the two vacancies. Council members in the new year will include incumbents Jason Clark and Eleanor Ponomareff, and newcomers Derek Volkart and Ana Byers, who won seats in the November election.

In addition to the councilors’ departures, the resignation of City Recorder Fray Crease, who asumed the position in September, was announced effective Friday.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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