The seven members of the Pendleton City Council have their work cut out for them when they begin the process Tuesday night of selecting someone to replace Cheryl Marier, who stepped down earlier this month due to conflicts caused by her medical practice in Albany.
It isn't like the council doesn't have some excellent choices. They do.
Four candidates filed for the open position including Bob Ehmann, Marjorie Iburg, Justin Pearce and Barbara Ann Wright.
If the council wants a candidate who can hit the ground running, then they are probably going to lean toward Iburg, who is only a few months away from having been a part of that body. Putting Iburg back on the council would essentially provide a seamless transition without the necessity of an orientation period. She was elected to the council for two terms and certainly has a following in the community. In her letter of application Iburg indicates patrons would find her a different person as an at-large candidate rather than representing a specific ward. She also was clear in what constituents could expect from her.
If the council wants someone to represent a segment of the community which currently lacks a voice on the body, then they would be apt to lean toward the 33-year old Pearce. He has experience in downtown renovation, having overseen the Hamley restoration, having provided advice and help on other projects, and currently is involved with St. Anthony Hospital. He's also a member of the Planning Commission so he has firsthand experience with a portion of city government. Pearce also has a clear vision for the future of Pendleton, including Main Street, the corridor along the Umatilla River and economic and industrial development.
If the council wants a new member who prides herself in offering a fresh face to the process rather than "a good old boy" approach, then Wright would be the logical selection. Wright, who has been involved with a number of causes in the Pendleton community, and who has been here most of her life, praises Marier for her role on the council. Wright says her interests are focused on family wage jobs, better utilization of the Round-Up Grounds, bringing more specialized events to town to foster tourist trade and renovating the Rivoli Theater. She says she offers a reputation as someone who is decisive.
Finally, if the council were inclined to combine previous service with recent experiences outside of Pendleton, they could well give the nod to Ehmann. He was a council member from 1992 until 2000 before leaving the community. He, like Pearce, is a practice manager in the Pendleton medical community. In articulating his candidacy, Ehmann makes it clear he understands the difference between policy making and management. He also has a strong belief that the function of city government is to make things happen for citizens and for those wishing to do business here. "We don't want to be an obstacle," he says, "we want to make things work."
In the end, the council has a number of points to ponder - should we diversify our makeup, is experience the most critical factor, are new ideas the most important consideration, how important is a smooth transition, or do we need ideas from outside the community?
We'll know Wednesday where their priorities lie - assuming one of the four candidates can earn the necessary five votes needed for selection.
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the East Oregonian editorial board, comprised of Editor George Murdock, Associate Publisher Kathryn Brown, General Manager Wendy DalPez and Managing Editor Skip Nichols. Other columns, letters and cartoons on this page express the opinions of the authors and not necessarily that of the East Oregonian.