Council Corner: In office 55 days and still alive
So what have I learned about Ashland (that I can share) and what have I learned about myself (that I care to disclose) and maybe more importantly to you, the citizens of Ashland, will this make me a good representative for you (hopefully).
As to the first part of the question, I have learned that Ashland is home to hundreds of people who care and care passionately about nearly everything. This means we have many commissions whose members have extensive knowledge on most everything.
Subjects range from becoming a Bee City (yay for the pollinators) to how to protect the watershed (right on, Ashland Resiliency Project) to how to keep our city historic (I love the old key shop), to artful (wow, is the mural at the food bank wonderful) to how to keep our airport flying (without too many decibels) — just to name a few of our commissions.
I have also learned the lesson Ricky Nelson learned when he sang at a garden party long ago (you can’t please everyone so you've got to please yourself). I learned this in my struggle to make the right decision on the items brought before the council.
I know that not everyone agreed with all the votes I cast. What I can say is that I have tried to look at all sides of an issue and talk to the person on the street as well as those that send impassioned emails. I learned from experience as a psychologist that it is easy to generalize from one comment to think that is what everyone thinks, so I have tried to keep a balance.
I have hopes. I want to believe I voted the right way with regard to the Visitor Center issue. I hope that by saying yes to allowing city water for this project that we can include conditions in the contract to ODOT that will increase security measures that will make the citizens on Crowson Road safer. I want you to know I do care and understand how this decision effects you.
On a personal note, here are some of my passions: I believe protection of the watershed is of utmost importance. I think Ashland has much to be proud of in the forward-thinking approach we have taken to protecting the watershed. I will continue to work with the Forest Lands Commission and the Ashland Resiliency Project to promote forest health, conduct appropriate forest thinning, build single-use trails and promote public education about the watershed, our main source of water.
I believe that we have one of the most beautiful park systems in the nation, which deserves to be protected. I support the proposal to transfer the Grove to be the face of recreation for the city and revitalize this underused facility.
I believe that quality of life in important to both the citizens of Ashland and future economic growth. I am interested in creating a city that is truly age-friendly and provides the options needed to have our citizens age in place. I am interested in both AARP’s age-friendly cities program and the blue zones project for developing a healthy community.
I am proud of many of our city's personnel (a special shout out to Jeff McFarland, the Paul Bunyan of Ashland), and I salute programs including the fire-wise community, the You have Options Program and the food bank.
I have seen how Ashland has changed since my son was born here in 1980 with a snow storm on the way. I loved Ashland then even though I left for a number of years to pursue my career goals. I love Ashland now and can see that while it has changed, it still has a creative, caring and innovative spirit. How lucky we all are to live here. Off to see the bald eagles and cranes this weekend.
Stefani Seffinger is a member of the Ashland City Council.