With a month and a half left before the deadline to file for one of four Hermiston city council seats, two candidates are in the running so far.
Incumbent Doug Smith will run again, and Shean Fitzgerald has filed to run for his wife Clara Beas Fitzgerald’s seat after she decided not to run for another term.
Fitzgerald, running for Ward II, said one of his biggest reasons for running is to see if he can have an effect on lowering the property tax burden for Hermiston residents. Hermiston has the highest property taxes in the county, thanks in large part to the bonds that voters continue to pass.
He said he would also like to see the city do more to help the elderly, the lonely and the homeless.
“We need to take care of those people,” he said.
Fitzgerald described himself as “semi-retired” from the construction industry and said he still takes jobs as an operating engineer from time to time. He moved to Hermiston in 1978 after getting out of the Marine Corps.
“It’s a nice place to live, and a nice place to raise your kids,” he said.
His wife Beas Fitzgerald has taken on several new tasks since being elected to the city council three years ago, including pursuing an advanced degree, chairing the nonprofit that puts on the city’s annual Cinco de Mayo festival and serving on the Oregon Commission on Women. She has decided not to run again in order to focus on other endeavors.
Doug Smith, who hopes to maintain his seat representing Ward IV, is a former officer with the Hermiston Police Department. He is three years into his first four-year term on the city council.
“This is my home, this is the city I love and I want to do what I can to further it,” he said.
He said serving on the council was intimidating at first, but he has learned a lot and had opportunities to serve the community that he wouldn’t have otherwise had.
Lori Davis and Jackie Myers, the other two incumbents who would be up for re-election, said they aren’t ready yet to announce whether they have chosen to run again.
The deadline to file is March 6 at 5 p.m.
Hermiston operates on an eight-person council system, with four at-large seats and four seats representing geographical areas known as wards. It is the four ward seats that are up for election in 2018. If two or fewer people run for a seat during the May 15 election, the winner of that race will take their seat for a four-year term on the council in Jan. 2019. If more than two people run for a seat, the May election will be considered a primary and the top two vote-getters will have a run-off in the general election in November.
Candidates must live in the ward they are running for, must be a “qualified voter” in the state of Oregon and must have lived in Hermiston for at least one year prior to declaring their candidacy. A map of the four wards can be found at city hall or online at www.hermiston.or.us/government/city-council. Filing forms and manuals can be found at city hall or online at sos.oregon.gov/elections/Pages/manuals-tutorials.aspx and must be returned to the city recorder by no later than March 6, 2018 at 5 p.m.
Contact Jade McDowell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4536.