Five additional candidates have filed to run for seats on the Douglas County Transportation District Board.
There are now 16 candidates for seven positions on the newly formed board, which will manage state transportation grants and determine how they’re spent on programs like U-Trans and Dial-A-Ride. The work was formerly done by Douglas County government, but the district will operate independently of the county. Interviews with candidates who filed earlier ran in the Aug. 18 and Aug. 23 editions of The News-Review.
Douglas County Republican Party Chairman Fred Dayton filed just before the deadline Tuesday afternoon. Also filing in the last few days are John Ficker, Sheri Moothart and William Schmidt of Roseburg and Roy Spurgeon of Winchester.
Dayton is a retired real estate consultant and developer who said he felt 46 years experience serving on various city commissions and local boards would be beneficial. Dayton served on the budget committee for the Roseburg Urban Sanitary Authority during the time when it was forming, and said that has given him experience in how to put together a new district.
He said the district will first have to determine how much money it has to spend, and where that should be spent. It might want to appoint a budget committee and determine the degree to which staff should be hired to carry out the district’s responsibilities.
“That’s where I think I could help with this. I don’t have any lofty goals for dramatic expansion of our transportation capability. I just think we need to look at what the budget’s going to be and how we get maximum utilization of those dollars,” Dayton said.
Ficker spent 40 years working in the freight transportation field, including working as a sales manager for the Southern Pacific railroad company and a transportation manager for Weyerhaeuser. He served as President of the National Industrial Transportation League and vice chairman of the Transportation Advisory Commitee for the city of Queen Creek, Arizona.
Ficker retired to Douglas County a few months ago, but previously lived in Oregon and was appointed by former Gov. Vic Atiyeh to serve on a committee looking at short line railroads. Ficker said his focus on the district board would be ensuring that the district consider the movement of goods, not just the movement of people, as part of its transportation planning.
He said working on getting more buses, more taxis, or Uber or Lyft services are all good things, but that shouldn’t be the district’s entire focus.
“Those are important things, don’t get me wrong, but you also have to have the ability for a manufacturer or a distributor to have good commercial access for their facilities. If you don’t, they won’t locate here,” he said.
Spurgeon is a retired college instructor who has served on the county’s Special Transportation Advisory Committee since 2005.
He’s been involved with transportation planning at many of the colleges and universities at which he’s worked. Spurgeon taught at Chemeketa Community College near Salem, and at colleges in Oregon, Arizona, Washington, Virginia, Kansas and the Navajo nation. Spurgeon started out teaching English and writing and then moved into training educators. At Chemeketa, he trained bus drivers on how to train other bus drivers in their fields of expertise.
Spurgeon said he would like the district to focus on getting transportation to people who have difficulty getting where they need to go, either because they are disabled or elderly or because they live in rural areas and can’t drive to the doctor or to go shopping.
“I think this is a critical time to have people looking at the issues and putting that money where it can do the most good in the long run,” Spurgeon said.
Mootheart has been in the busing industry since 2001, working as both a bus driver and a trainer of other bus drivers. She’s worked for First Student, the company that buses Roseburg High School students, for the past year. She also works as a bus driver and trainer for the Glide School District and previously worked as a bus driver and trainer for the Durham School District and as a residential staff member at the Wolf Creek Job Corps.
Mootheart said her focus would be to increase U-Trans bus services.
“I’m hoping just to spread the U-Trans throughout more of Douglas County, more than just central county where it is now, make it more accessible to our seniors and our young people needing to go to college,” she said.
She said it’s important to provide young people with access to the transportation they need to get to their classes at Umpqua Community College or the Woolley Center.
Mootheart said she’s glad so many people are running for the transportation district board.
Schmidt did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday. According to his filing form he is retired from working for the Oregon state government, and has been a member of local and state boards dealing with transportation, senior citizens, and people with disabilities. He’s also a past board member of Court Appointed Special Advocates.