SUTHERLIN — Two new councilors joined the ranks at Sutherlin City Hall Monday evening.
Councilors Seth Vincent and Travis Tomlinson took their first oaths of office at the Sutherlin City Council regular meeting. Councilor Forrest Stone took his oath for the second time after renewing his term. He was appointed to fill a vacancy during his first term, so this would be his third term as councilor.
Vincent received word that he would be a councilor on the day that his son and fourth child was born. He was in a hospital in Eugene when he heard the election results from The News-Review.
Vincent was born and raised in Douglas County, and he has spent most of his life here. He graduated from Oakland High School. He now works as an operation manager at Northstar Fabrication and Machine, Inc.
“Being a lifelong resident, I understand the complexities and struggles we’ve gone through throughout the years,” he said. “It’s important to get new, young, fresh ideas, and to get the younger generations involved. Too often, we’re so focused on our family and careers, that local city government is the last thing we think about.”
Vincent admits that he has a lot to learn as a new councilor, but he wants to bring road infrastructure to the forefront of city issues.
“I want to look at the different avenues and possibilities to generate revenue and use it to improve our street conditions,” Vincent said.
Tomlinson works as a service manager with United Rentals, and jointly owns KLK Fashions in downtown Sutherlin with his wife, Kimberly.
Like Vincent, Tomlinson was born and raised in Douglas County. As a new councilor, he wants to tackle the projects as they come. He particularly wants to focus on beautifying downtown.
“We just need to get it cleaned up to attract people there,” Tomlinson said. “The new street projects are really going to help.”
He wants to help the city create a registry of businesses, “so we know what’s in town and who is doing what.”
“I’m in the business of promotion, as far as what I like to do,” he said. “I like to see new industry and businesses come to Sutherlin so we can grow.”
Stone is looking forward to supporting the council on ongoing projects, he said, as well as some new ones. They include looking for ways to fund a library, as well as covering potential changes to the state’s Public Employees Retirement System.
Oregon lawmakers have attempted to cut pension costs in the past, but the Oregon Supreme Court largely rejected them.
Stone expects to see increases in retirement pensions for government workers in the coming year.
“So each city is going to have to take money out of general funds to come up with extra money,” he said. “That’s putting a burden on the taxpayer.”
As for the library, Sutherlin opted out of putting a Douglas County Library taxing district on its voters’ ballots. County voters, meanwhile, voted against creating a district, which would have funded the county library system. Now the county is struggling to find a means of funding its library system. That has left cities wondering if there will be a county-wide library system any longer.
“We need a library in Sutherlin,” Stone said. “We just need to figure out how to fund it. Property owners don’t want to pay for the whole deal. It will have to be something along the lines of a user fee.”
“I know it’s good to have a local library in your own community, but for the cost, it’s an expensive thing to have,” he added. “There are so many other things we need to move forward with.”