Three relatively new Pendleton city councilors and mayor John Turner spoke with the East Oregonian earlier this week.
Jake Cambier had been on the council for a year and a half, while Scott Fairley and Dale Primmer have had their seats as long as Turner — a year on the nose. And while the four men come at the job from different backgrounds and with different goals, each said they appreciate the camaraderie and teamwork of the current council.
And each has high hopes that all those oars pulling in the same direction will bring population growth, economic development and new housing to a city that has struggled with stagnation and chicken-and-egg, cart-and-horse problems that have stifled development. Those hopes aren’t for progress down the road — they want to see it this year.
The men are part of a dramatic shift in the council in the last year, a shift that will certainly continue. Current council president Neil Brown has said he will not run for re-election. Longtime councilor John Brenne is up for re-election, too. If those two seats are filled by new councilors, it will be an almost entire set of new faces than was there in 2016.
When these big changes come to any organization, it can take a while for the dust to settle, for interests to align and newcomers brought up to speed.
That doesn’t seem to be the case in Pendleton. An initial goal-setting strategy that included plenty of public input got the council focused on what was most important to most residents. That kicked off a renewed commitment in city administration to the basics of good government: infrastructure upkeep, quality customer service, clear communication and improved relations with organizations that share a common goal.
This is not to say that Pendleton is out of the woods just yet. Important, difficult decisions are down the line and those votes will likely not be unanimous — the city budget just isn’t big enough to fund everything each councilor (and each resident) would like to do.
But we are happy to see that new ideas and fresh vigor have been injected into Pendleton council deliberations. And it’s good to see that new energy has been harnessed in a productive manner.
Since 2018 is the time to see results — to measure success — we’re optimistic about what the year has in store for Pendleton.