SUTHERLIN — Six candidates are vying for three City Council seats in the November election.
Incumbents Tim Bradley, Forrest Stone and Adam Sarnoski and challengers Floyd Van Sickle, Karen Meier and Todd McKnight are on the ballot. The three top vote-getters win seats.
A range of issues, such as City Council cohesion and water rates, was highlighted by candidates in interviews, but increasing Sutherlin’s economic vitality garnered the most attention.
Candidates voiced discontent with the city’s appearance and talked about investing in beautification projects to fill empty storefronts.
Stone said the city’s population isn’t increasing and is aging. He said students graduate and leave for cities like Eugene and Portland. Meanwhile, few young people move to Sutherlin.
He said the city has assets it can develop to attract new residents.
“You have to grow or all of your youth will leave for bigger cities,” he said. Sutherlin’s central location along the Interstate 5 corridor is a big advantage, he said.
Meier is on the Sutherlin Downtown Beautification Committee. She said she wants to emphasize improving downtown.
She said the committee has made the city appear cleaner, but she said she would like it to take on bigger project. Meier assisted in revamping the city’s website, which will launch in early 2013.
“We’ve been trying to jazz up the downtown shopping area to make it more friendly and appealing,” she said. “We don’t want to drive down to Roseburg or up to Eugene.”
McKnight said the downtown needs to be more inviting to business owners. He voiced interest in improving the city’s parks and recreation district to also encourage outside interest.
He said he would work closely with city officials to support new and existing businesses.
McKnight is the son of a former Sutherlin mayor, Stan McKnight.
Bradley said he ran four years ago because he wanted to expand the parks and recreation division.
He said the city’s Central Park is the one residents only use. He said Hartley Park, close to I-5, is underused.
He said the city must also find money to resurface pothole-ridden streets.
“We need to figure out street project repairs since we’re getting less revenue from the gas tax,” he said.
Sarnoski said the city’s streets are a result of past councils patching up problems without fully addressing them. He said the city is dealing with problems as they occur rather than act to prevent them.
“You can continue to fill potholes, but if the base underneath isn’t repaired, they just return,” he said. “The problem is that there isn’t much money to fill potholes, much less replace entire roads.”
Van Sickle said the city looks good aesthetically, but could improve economically.
“I don’t think we look so bad,” he said. “The problem we have is we need to fill the storefronts that are empty.”
Van Sickle said the city’s appearance isn’t as important as keeping a responsible budget.
•You can reach reporter Ryan Imondi at 541-957-4211 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.