ROSEBURG (KMTR) - Four men are battling for the Ward 4 City Council spot in Roseburg - and they all say change needs to happen. Each one believes his experience will bring a fresh perspective to the table. The previous councilor of Ward 4, Melissa Smith, resigned. Because of her resignation, current city councilors will interview each applicant and appoint one of them, rather than voters electing a candidate.
Mike Baker, Ron Looman, Lew Marks, and Josh Tibbetts are all vying for the City Council position. Ward 4 covers the downtown area in Roseburg, which is a huge business spot in the city. Each candidate says he wants to make the downtown area as prosperous as possible. Councilors have discussed the ideas of re-doing the downtown or bringing in a supermarket, and all applicants for Ward 4 have their own opinions.
Former City Councilor of Ward 4, Mike Baker, says he would be a good candidate because of his experience. He says he knows the area well, and wants to continue promoting economic growth downtown and throughout Roseburg.
"I'm somebody who can step into the city council right away," Baker said. "I mean really, I just finished representing this very ward a couple of months ago. So I'm very familiar with all the activities and the things that are going on; how government works."
Baker says his experience serving as a councilor would make it a smoother transition if the City Council were to appoint him. He also says he gets along well with the Council, which would also make the transition easier.
Ron Looman, an owner of a contracting company in Roseburg, is also applying for the City Council spot. His biggest concern is the lack of small business representation. He owns two small businesses in the area, and believes that his business experience would bring a different voice to the Council.
"I'm used to working with little or no budget," Looman said. "With what the federal government's doing, and there are cuts - small communities are going to be hit hard. And I think they're going to need people who know how to do things as a business."
Looman says as a small business owner, he has had a difficult time trying to expand because of increasing taxes. He says that even though the City Council does not make state or federal decisions, he believes that the more representation small business owners have, the better.
Lew Marks is another candidate looking to be on the City Council. Marks says his experience as a business owner and social worker would help bring more perspective to the Council.
"I've been a clinical social worker for thirty years, and have dealt with every form of human suffering, from child neglect, protective services to alcohol and drug use," Marks said. "I'm aware of the services and the services needed."
Marks also believes that his history as a business owner will help represent many people downtown. He believes every representative should have been on both ends of payroll - those who are receiving checks, and those who are giving them.
The final candidate for the Ward 4 position is Josh Tibbetts, who strongly believes that the best councilor is one who authentically represents the people of the ward. Tibbetts says the people living in Ward 4 want to be involved in decisions made about downtown, but many are intimidated by the Council.
"I know all the councilors from all the different wards," Tibbetts said. "If I get elected, or if I get appointed, everybody in Roseburg will know that Josh Tibbetts serves in Ward 4. I guarantee you. Everybody will know. That's the way it's supposed to be. You should recognize your councilors. They should be that active. And I've got plenty of time to devote to this. And like I said, I want to raise the bar."
Tibbetts believes he can be a good intermediary between the people of Ward 4 and the Council, because he says he loves interacting with people and can put the regular person at ease.
The City Council will hold fifteen minute interviews for each candidate on Mon., March 11 at 6:00 pm at the Roseburg City Hall. Current council members say they intend to make their appointment that same night before their 7:00 pm council meeting. The meeting and the interviews are open to the public.