Roseburg city councilor candidate Dennis Rogers said he’s running for office because he thinks anybody but incumbent Tom Ryan should hold the job.
Rogers, who owns the marijuana store Canna King, thinks having a retired police officer like Ryan on the job is like having the “fox guard the hen house.”
Rogers is one of three candidates who has filed for the Ward 2 council seat so far. Ryan is seeking re-election, and former councilor Marty Katz has also thrown his hat into the ring. In interviews earlier this week, Ryan told The News-Review his 20 years of experience on the council was a plus, while Katz said he wanted to return to the council in order to push for downtown improvements like having the parking garage torn down and refurbishing Southeast Main Street.
Rogers cited the city’s handling of a May 7 pedestrian safety sting on Southeast Stephens Street as an example of the type of policy he opposes. During that sting, Rogers was arrested on suspicion of second-degree disorderly conduct.
Roseburg Police Department had a pedestrian walk across the street, using a crosswalk, and then an officer pulled out and cited drivers who failed to follow safety rules like stopping and waiting for the pedestrian to get all the way across the street.
Rogers called that entrapment and said the council shouldn’t have allowed the police to do it.
Instead, he recommended the city install a flashing light, activated when a pedestrian pushes a button, that alerts drivers a pedestrian is about to cross the street.
But on May 7, he took matters into his own hands. He told The News-Review he stood about 100 yards in front of the “cop trap” and warned away people who were approaching it by “holding up a big old X with my arms.”
After about 20 minutes, Rogers said he was arrested, but he paid his $250 bail and went right back out.
“I called up my manager here at Canna King and I told her that I was going to go back out there, and to bring me ... some more money because I might get arrested again,” he said. He wasn’t arrested a second time.
According to the police patrol logs, Rogers was standing in one lane of travel, and an officer politely asked him to step onto the sidewalk and not to yell loudly enough to cause alarm. The logs said he stepped back into the roadway and resumed yelling.
Rogers criticized Ryan for shutting down a May 14 council meeting when Councilor Ashley Hicks mentioned complaints from her constituents about the sting. Video of the meeting shows Ryan abruptly announced he was adjourning the meeting, after cutting off Hicks’s comments. Ryan told Hicks she was “out of line,” and she responded that he was “out of line.” Ryan, who is council president, had been running the meeting in the absence of the mayor that day.
Rogers said he wants to see the council work on saving its pennies.
“We’re not in a timber boom like we have been in generations past. We need to save our pennies and look out for the future, not just spend the money willy-nilly,” he said.
He cited the example of the $5 million the city spent to straighten out the “S” curves on Stewart Parkway, saying there are still curves there. One project he’s glad the city’s spending money on, though, is reopening the library in Roseburg.
“I think that a city without a means of educating themselves is a city that’s destined to fail,” he said. “So I’m glad that they brought that back.”
Rogers previously attempted a run for city council in 2016, but was disqualified from the ballot after some of his signatures were found to be ineligible. He joked that he’d do better this time around by not offering marijuana joints to people who sign. He said last time he posted a joke on Facebook suggesting he would do that, but took it down a few minutes later thinking people might take it seriously. Someone reported it to the Department of Justice, which he said sent him a “really nice little letter saying I probably shouldn’t do that.”
Rogers said he might not have filed if he’d known Katz was going to run; however, Rogers said he’s in it for the win.
“No one’s going to have more signs than me. No one’s going to throw more dollars at this than me. And the whole meme is going to be anybody but Tom,” he said.
Rogers said the people in power oppose him.
“They sure as heck don’t want me to be there as an elected official, and I think that scares them a little bit. Because I am unfiltered, and I’m not afraid to say exactly what I think,” he said.