UNION - The 10 citizens of Union who've filed to run for mayor and three city council positions in the November election demonstrated that controversy can build public involvement.
Over the past two years, a recall election and the resignation of the city's police chief have stirred controversy among residents of this small, Eastern Oregon city. But that's resulted in a slew of citizens who are trying to get involved in the city's government.
"I'm really impressed with the quality of the people who've filed," said Betty Bronson, a candidate for Council Position 1.
Sue Briggs and Deb Clark will be on the city's mayoral ballot. D.J. Lequerica, who also filed for the position, was eliminated due to a lack of qualified signatures.
Dave Thomas, the present mayor, is not seeking re-election after two terms in the office. Instead, he is running for Council Position 5.
Briggs served as the city's mayor from 1994-2000, when she was defeated in a three-way race with Thomas and Jerry Moore. She was again defeated for the position in 2002.
"I am an enthusiastic supporter of Union," Briggs said, "I enjoyed being mayor and feel I did a decent job."
Briggs was involved in the city's recent effort to work with a professional mediator, Dale Largent of Bend, in sorting out the city's disagreements.
"They can take what they know and go forward, or they can revert," she said. Largent said the final outcome would depend on the decisions of Union residents.
Deb Clark organized the citizen's group, Take back Our Town and Leadership (TOTAL) following the resignation of Union Police Chief Dean Muchow in 2003.
"I think that what the city needs right now is someone organized and knowledgeable to help the city and the council get back on track," Clark said.
Clark resigned her position as president of TOTAL on Sept. 1 in order to focus on campaigning.
Clark and her husband Roger moved to Union in 1998 after having lived in Dundee for six years.
Roger Clark, a member of the city council, is not up for re-election this fall. Councilors Barbara Gray and Russ Snodgrass also hold safe seats this year.
Bronson is running for Council Position 1 against incumbent Gary Graham and another challenger, Kevin Bolen. Muchow filed for this position but later withdrew.
Graham is seeking a second four-year term after being appointed to the position in 1997.
"I care about what's happening in the city of Union," Graham said. "I'd like to see it calm down so we can get progressive again."
Graham said he wanted to see the city's historic district enhanced and obtain state certification from the Oregon Historical Preservation Office.
A member of TOTAL, Bronson said she wants to hold the council accountable to the public, that too much business was done outside council meetings.
Bolen said he had not taken sides during recent city disputes. He is self-employed in home construction and has lived in Union for the past six years.
Dick Alexander and Dick Walker are contesting Council Position 3. The incumbent, Brett Baxter, decided not to run for re-election because of time commitments to his family.
Alexander was removed from a councilor's position in a recall election organized by TOTAL in February.
"I've got some things I'd like to see happen," Alexander said.
Previously, Alexander supported the city's construction of a golf course, work on the sewage plant, the school athletic complex and an Oregon Health & Science University Hospital medical center.
Walker and Robie VanDiver for Position 5 could not be reached for comment.
Position 5 incumbent Arlie Gordon said, "Let everybody get back on the same page."
Leaving his mayoral position to run for Position 5, Thomas said he felt he was entitled to vote on issues coming before the council.
"I haven't had a vote," he said.
Thomas said he wants to see the city administrator and city recorder positions merges, saving the city about $40,000.