Ruth Smith has worked for the past few years on organizing the residents of Southeast Roseburg around issues like food scarcity, housing shortages and crime reduction.

It’s because of her passion for improving the community that she decided to make a run for Roseburg City Council Ward 4. Ward 4 covers Southeast Roseburg, including the downtown area.

Smith is one of two candidates to file for the seat, which is currently held by Steve Kaser. Kaser has said he doesn’t plan to run for re-election.

An interview with the other candidate, retired parole officer Bev Cole, was in Friday’s edition of The News-Review.

Smith is a resident service coordinator for NeighborWorks Umpqua, which means she finds resources to help the residents of housing complexes owned by NeighborWorks find what they need to become self-sufficient.

She started in 2014 as an AmeriCorps volunteer. Through that program, she became the manager of the Umpqua Dairy Community Garden and later participated in the rebranding of downtown as the “Heart of Roseburg.” Through her AmeriCorps volunteering, Smith got involved with South East Roseburg Voices in Community Enhancement, or SERVICE. She’s currently the president of SERVICE and the vice president of the Roseburg Senior Center’s board of directors. She has also helped organize a neighborhood watch program.

Smith was a stay-at-home mom for most of her young adulthood. Then when her kids got older, she started volunteering at Casa de Belen as a weekend house supervisor.

“I was there for probably about six years, and then decided I needed to go back to school because it wasn’t a good idea for me to be telling kids that they needed to get an education when I didn’t have one,” she said.

She obtained her bachelor’s degree in health and human services, and then joined AmeriCorps.

She said if elected city councilor, one of her biggest goals is to get more housing into the city.

“We have such a huge homeless population, but you really can’t address the homelessness if there’s no place for them to live,” she said.

She said the city has been doing a really good job looking for alternatives, such as allowing tiny homes on some properties.

Smith said another problem for Ward 4 residents is that they have no grocery store, so if they can’t drive they must either rely on convenience stores or take a bus to a grocery store. If they pick the latter option, it takes a lot of time and they can only bring back two bags of groceries per trip.

“We really have very little access to good, healthy, quality food. We live in a food desert, and so that is a huge problem,” she said.

Smith said she feels she’d be a good person to help voice the needs of her ward on the council.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at 541-957-4213 or ccegavske@nrtoday.com.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4213 or by email at ccegavske@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

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