The competition for a Roseburg City Council seat recently vacated by Melissa Smith is heating up.
A third person, property developer Lew Marks, 73, has applied for the post, creating a dramatic contrast to the November election, in which not a single council seat was contested.
The other two applicants so far are former councilor Mike Baker and Josh Tibbetts. Baker was on the council for a total of eight years before giving the seat up for an unsuccessful run last year against Mayor Larry Rich.
When he applied last month, Tibbetts, who has run unsuccessfully for mayor, criticized the council, saying councilors should act more quickly to improve downtown and reach out to blue-collar voters.
In contrast, Marks expressed support for councilors, who he said are doing a “pretty good job.”
Smith resigned her seat last month because her husband accepted a job in Texas. All three potential replacements will be interviewed March 11, along with any others who apply by March 1.
Marks said he wants to help the council improve the city’s economy. He said the key will be supporting small businesses and reducing red tape.
“It has been tough times. Every small businessman I know is doing a little bit better, but crossing his fingers behind his back,” he said.
Marks also praised the Douglas County Industrial Development Board and The Partnership for Economic Development in Douglas County.
“I really think everybody wants to do good things to create jobs,” he said.
Marks said there is no magic solution to addressing the “tough problem” of homeless people downtown. He said he would like to see a shelter built outside the downtown area.
Marks was a therapist at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center for 22 years. He also owned Roseburg Athletic Club for 17 years. He currently owns commercial and rental properties and a small tree farm.
He said his mix of experiences have allowed him to see bureaucracy from the inside and the outside, which he said could be useful knowledge on the council.
“I think very few people have walked both sides of the street,” he said.
In November, all five City Council candidates ran unopposed.
Marks said he thinks it is good that more people are interested now. He said he is happy to be one of three interviewed for the position.
“It simply gives the council another choice,” he said.
The successful Ward 4 applicant will serve through the end of 2014, when an election will determine who fills out the final two years of Smith’s four-year term.
• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.