Tillamook County Pioneer’s QUESTIONS FOR CANDIDATES Series – Nov. 2020: Manzanita Mayor & City Council

#4 – The Tillamook County Pioneer’s Questions for the Candidates – November 2020 series. We will post the candidates answers in all the state and local races. These questions were gathered from a diverse array of Tillamook County citizens, and provides an opportunity for constituents to compare candidates answers directly. Here are the candidates for Manzanita Mayor and two City Councilor positions – Scott Galvin and Mike Scott, for mayor; Hans Tonjes, Thomas D. Ashenbrener, Randy Kugler and Jerry Spegman for city council. All candidates were sent the Pioneer’s Questions for the Candidates, and we are publishing those answers that we received. We have also included videos from Nehalem Bay Experiences of the candidates.

Candidates for Manzanita Mayor
Scott Galvin

Why should we vote for you?
The voice of the residents of Manzanita is paramount.
The city council is a conduit for the will of the residents.
The democratic process regulates policy.
I believe that I have the skills to build consensus of a shared vision of all of the residents.

What are the community’s core values?
The Arts
Fiscal responsibility

Identify the top 5 issues that you think are important to the community right now.

Development of new Facilities for City Government. I have made available the process and the details for the development of new city facilities. I made this available in August. Phased Development with residents’ input.

Fiscal responsibility.
We should live within our means.

You tell the truth and you do not lead with omission.

“When you’re transparent, you invite trust by revealing that you have nothing to hide. You establish yourself as an honest, credible person in the eyes of others. The prospect of being open and vulnerable may make you nervous, but the digital revolution has made transparency a matter of survival”.
Unity- Win or lose we are only as strong as the total. This election has created an opportunity for the residents to voice their concerns. If I win, I will work with the existing council to bring the community together. If I lose, I will let the majority prevail, that is the democratic process. I do love this community and feel grateful to call this home. You are my neighbors.

What action(s) would you take to address these issues?
As I answered above, I will continue to be available to the community of Manzanita.

Why did you decide to run for office?
To help make a difference and to answer the call of the people of Manzanita.

How are you actively working to eliminate racism and other biases in your community?
As a native Oregonian I have lived a sheltered life with regards to the injustice of black lives. I had a false sense with the election of Barack Obama, that we had turned a corner on racial injustice. I was wrong. We still have a lot of work to do. What I can do is show 100% love and action.

There are many divisive issues facing our communities. How do you resolve conflicts?
It all starts with communication. The most important part of communication is listening. Having an open mind and a willingness to go beyond your own biases.

Manzanita Mayor Candidate
Mike Scott

Give us your 30 second “elevator speech” – why should we vote for you?
As mayor, and with the help of an able and experienced city council, we have aggressively, and I believe properly responded to the unprecedented challenges presented by the global pandemic.
We have, thanks to an excellent city work force, maintained quality public services. The city’s budget is professionally and conservatively managed, its employees, public safety personnel and planning efforts are skilled, dedicated and forward looking. We have meet challenges ranging from a failed golf course, now operating better than before and with a permanent conservation easement, to a destructive tornado. With extensive public input we are planning a new city hall facility.
The city’s administration is committed to ensuring that Manzanita remains a welcoming, inclusive community with a thriving local business community. With the help of a dedicated, hard-working city council I will continue offer the experience, dedication, commitment and civility that have marked my time in office.

What are the community’s core values?
Manzanita is indeed a special place, not only a beautiful place to live, but a community of engaged citizen who care about the city’s future, as well as one another. We value everyone – full-time residents, second homeowners and visitors who are so vital to our business community.
The community’s response to the COVID-19 emergency or the tornado event is a good example of how the community comes together to deal with a challenge. People volunteer. They look out for their neighbors. They know ours is a special community and are determined to keep it that way.

Identify the top 5 issues that you think are important to the community right now.
I outlined my priorities for the future in a series of statements released during the campaign.
Those statements have been posted on local social media sites and I encourage voters to review them.
Let me briefly review what I have said about priorities.
My top priority will always be to do all I can to ensure that the citizens of Manzanita continue to enjoy a safe, inclusive, caring community. That means proving high quality city services, including the basic but essential services such as safe water, careful planning, fiscally responsible
budgeting and excellent public safety services. We can help ensure these things by attracting and retaining a quality city staff.
Second, we must involve the entire community in a discussion and ultimate decision about a new facility to be home to city services. As you know we have had to vacate the old city hall building due to serious mold issues that present a public safety issue. City staff are now working in completely inadequate space and that inevitably impact the ability to address the top priority – delivering quality city services. We can meet this objective in a fiscally responsible way with a facility that is right sized to citizen and community needs. I think we also must recognize that
Manzanita will continue to face a variety of issues around growth and development. We must handle these issues, as well as issues related to visitors to the community, with care and wisdom.
I believe we can maintain the character and attractiveness that drew many of us here, while also dealing with the pressures of change, but it will take a smart, engaged and forward-looking city government.
Three, it is clear we will be dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for a good long while. I am committed to doing everything without our power to keep the community safe, while also supporting vital local businesses and workers. We were among the first communities in
Oregon to recognize the emergency and require safety steps, including masks. With the help of the current city council we have been able to provide leadership and guidance to the community, but we must not let our guard down or assume we won’t have challenges ahead.
Fourth, Phyllis and I were attracted to Manzanita and the north coast many years ago for the same reasons so many people find this to be such a special place. I want to keep it special. To me that means, among other things, embracing and encouraging diversity and civility. As we deal with the unprecedented pandemic we are also dealing with a national reckoning around racism and inequity. I want our community to lead on these issues, which is why the council recently adopted a position that speaks to our commitment to help bring about the change that is needed, while working to keep Manzanita a safe and welcoming place for everyone.
Fifth, I want to continue to encourage the broadest possible involvement of citizens in their community. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that while the pandemic has confined us to conducting city business online and in Zoom sessions, public participation has actually increased. I think this is great. At the same time part of the soul of our community is defined by an outstanding level of volunteer commitment to vital organizations like the Hoffman Center for the Art, the North Tillamook Library, the Emergency Volunteer Corps and the Pine Grove Community Center.
Every city is more than its city government and organizations such as these prove that point, but at the same time city officials – and myself as mayor – have a duty to encourage and support such efforts because they really do help define the quality of our community.

What action(s) would you take to address these issues?
We have a very talented, engaged and experienced city council that has demonstrated its ability to meet and handle real challenges. We will continue to apply that experience and dedication in the days ahead.
I believe in communication and public involvement, which is why I initiated a series of video briefings to provide information about the pandemic and why we have used technology to actually expand opportunities for citizens to be engaged with the council and mayor.
We have extensive efforts underway to evaluate options for a new city hall, a necessary part of our ability to continue to provide quality public services, and to assess the city’s short-term rental policies. I have supported the development of a local public health advisory committee as a
means to utilize extensive local expertise to get timely information to residents.

Why did you decide to run for office?
I have spent my life in a variety of public service positions, including a long career as an officer in the United States Navy. Since coming to the north coast, I have been involved in numerous local non-profits, including the Rinehart Clinic. I served on the city planning commission and on
the council before becoming mayor.
I value public service and I want to do my part to make sure Manzanita has a very well-managed city government, attracts and retains great people in city positions, plans carefully for the future and preserves the unique sense of community that exists here.

How are you actively working to eliminate racism and other biases in your community?
It is clear that we are at a moment of national reckoning around racism and intolerance, and it is long overdue. The city and its leadership have spoken clearly and repeatedly about its commitment to equality and inclusion and will continue to do so. I personally and strongly
endorse peaceful protest that is designed to lead to the kind of change that so many of us want.
At the same time, I have no tolerance for violence or destruction. The right to peaceful protest is, however, fundamental to our system of democracy.
I also believe that the words and actions of individual public officials – or those who aspire to positions of public trust – are incredibly important in establishing an environment of civility, tolerance and respect. Words matter. Actions have consequences. The kind of nastiness, division and character attacks that have become a feature in too much of our national politics simply have no place in our community. I’ll do all I can to make sure we foster an environment of mutual respect, civility and decency.

There are many divisive issues facing our communities. How do you resolve conflicts?
As I indicate in my response to the previous question: maintain a commitment to civil and respectful discussion, listen and understand all points of view and when decisions are made – win or lose – respect the outcome.

Thomas D. Ashenbrener

Why should we vote for you?
I was appointed to the council 18 months ago after the resignation of the elected member. I have been able to add value to the decision making and community benefit actions of the council. My contribution to this work encompasses my decades of leadership experience in management, budgeting, and financial and investment management of a $90M Oregon-based foundation. Additionally my experience in community public health is very much a part of our city’s leadership needs today and will be in the foreseeable future.
Our council has a duty and responsibility to conduct our decision making as a ‘prudent person’ would do and use the expertise available to us; while we hear a lot of opinions, I embrace the use of science and expert consultation as necessary for our decision making. My career was built on duty, responsibility, and serving the public interests. I am prepared to continue serving our city.

What are the community’s core values?
Core values are defined in the question “will future generations in Manzanita be proud of what we do today to enhance and protect our city?”
For this question I think our aspirational values are:
1. Meaningful community participation. Teamwork by residents willing to contribute positively to the community.
2. Respect for our community and for other residents. Are we giving as much as we are taking from the community? Are we genuinely contributing to the health and welfare of the community?
3.Strengths-based assets of our residents; engaging our active retirees who have skills and experiences that add value to the whole community in building our resilience and cultural experiences.
4. Integrity; honest and dutiful engagement of people who value the common good for our community
5. Hope for a better future for ourselves and for future generations.
6. Volunteerism; responding collaboratively to the needs of others especially in times of emergency

Identify the top 5 issues that you think are important to the community right now.

1. Keeping our residents safe as our community responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, including when we have an influx of visitors from elsewhere.

2. Supporting our merchants and businesses during the pandemic and the necessary quarantine and limits on public engagement. In addition we need to address support for the many part time and gig workers who have been laid off because of the business shutdowns. Working with local agencies to determine community needs.

3. Managing growth to preserve the essence of our community while assuring we have resources to serve the needs of our residents. This includes the essential need for understanding our complex budget.

4. Strategically pursuing City infrastructure that enhances our community for residents and the tourists that our merchants depend on, including a city administrative building replacement.

5. Engaging the many qualified and experienced retirees in advancing the benefits of our community to everyone.

What action(s) would you take to address these issues?
On the pandemic front, these are not Manzanita specific problems or concerns; they are issues throughout our North Tillamook County region and the approach of our city needs to be in cooperation with the other communities with which we are interdependent. Continuing the conversations with governments and multiple volunteer agencies in our region is ongoing and I support the continuation and expansion of these collaborations.

I support the ongoing strategy established by council to move forward with a city comprehensive infrastructure plan which we will have ready by the first quarter of 2021. This plan is necessary for the development of the 2021-22 budget.

We have many open opportunities for resident engagement in community activities. I support the work of the many volunteer agencies that advance our community culture and emergency preparedness and will work to actively represent their efforts at city council.

Why did you decide to run for office?
Manzanita is a special community that each of us has a unique relationship with. We have favorite hang outs and celebrate the social relationships available to us. We all want to retain these elements. We know change is inevitable so the issue is how do we manage change and preserve those Manzanita qualities we hold dear.

Operating the city is more complex than most people realize and effective management requires multiple viewpoints, dialogue, data gathering from experts and compromise, for effective decision making. I like our council’s collaborative style where decisions are made by consensus, not by the views of just one person. I like how transparent our operating style is as we do not have policy discussions outside of the public meetings and workshops. Our public meetings are where everything is discussed and where decisions are made.

How are you actively working to eliminate racism and other biases in your community?

Absolutely. Racism is a learned social construct. Awareness and naming racism when we encounter it is important. Racism is individual and while we can and should identify ways to reduce it in our community, it really requires each of us to work on it in our own lives. The essence of this success is trust and openness to the experience of others.

I am proud that the City of Manzanita passed Resolution 20-22 on racism and will read it periodically into the record throughout the year as a reminder to all that this is what we stand for in Manzanita.
We can learn how to have effective, empathetic and direct conversations with those who we think are different from us. These personal journeys can create understanding of the unique contributions of everyone to the wellbeing of all in our community. I have been actively working on the issue of racism and community health for decades and am proud to continue to do so.

There are many divisive issues facing our communities. How do you resolve conflicts?

Social media has a lot of people asking for the councilors to listen and to be transparent. We have multiple opportunities for people to publically and privately express their ideas and we welcome those ideas.

We need everyone to understand that in hearing their opinions that there may be other perspectives of equally passionate people that are different, and often compromise or balance is necessary.

When you are a member of the Council you learn that many people have opinions that are useful to guiding our assessments. But as a sworn council member we have the duty and responsibility to validate the soundness of these opinions, and where necessary get expert advice and approve actions that are in the broad interest of the community, which may be different from those who are expressing views.

Finally, I always enjoy answering individual questions from community members. More about my background and opinions can be found on the website: Manzanita2020.org. You can also contact me at CouncilorThomas2020@gmail.com if you would like to set up a conversation.

Jerry Spegman

Give us your 30 second “elevator speech” – why should we vote for you?
I have always found opportunities to volunteer in the several communities where I have lived, but my personal circumstances didn’t permit me to make the kind of commitment required to serve on a city council. I am now able to make such a commitment. My career began in public interest law
and then shifted to public health policy advocacy. I developed a skill set that I believe can be put to good use on the council. I worked for and with government at several levels, and had broad exposure to a range of substantive issue areas. I listen carefully, ask hard questions, recognize
when key voices are missing from the table, and work well across lines of division to reach workable solutions.

What are the community’s core values?
I’m hesitant to declare for others what their values are, but among the things that, to me, are integral to what makes Manzanita special are, in no particular order, reverence for our area’s natural beauty, volunteerism, support for the arts, neighbors looking out for each other, and a
tolerance of differing perspectives.

Identify the top 5 issues that you think are important to the community right now.
• The STR industry and how its growth impacts the quality of life in town.
• Moving forward with the new city hall project in an affordable way supported by a majority of our residents.
• Engaging in a broad community discussion about growth – how we can approach it from a perspective of sustaining what makes Manzanita special.
• Coming to terms with the unique community we are – mostly full-time residents who are retirees, second-home owners who out number full-timers, and constant visitors, including day trippers, STR occupants, and guests of second-home owners. While this mix is generally a strength, it has consequences that impact our finances, our livability, and our sense of community identity.
• Creating a culture on city council that fosters healthy debate and discussion among members and ensures citizens an active role in helping their local government as well as holding it accountable.

What action(s) would you take to address these issues?
There are no quick or easy answers addressing these issues, but the great news is that Manzanita has such a diversity of talent and expertise among its residents, and such a high level of civic engagement. I’ve worked with community-based advocates around the country in places that would certainly envy the kind of social capital we have in excess in Manzanita. As a city councilor I would consider it malpractice if I did not proactively engage citizens whenever possible in meeting our challenges. In general, I think that the first step in tackling a problem is to fully understand all of its dimensions. I have thoughts about all of the issues I cite above, but my first obligation will be to take advantage of the accumulated wisdom in this town to ground myself in the facts, and to be fully aware of competing interests and perspectives.

Why did you decide to run for office?
I was amazed by the vote last November on the bond measure to fund a new city hall for Manzanita. Both the turnout and the outcome were astounding. In an off-year, special election, just under 80% of voters spoke up. Honestly, if a city council anywhere in this country hoped to slip a bond measure by with minimal voter scrutiny, it would aim for an off-year, special election. And last November there wasn’t anything else on the ballot at all to draw voters out. But the 5-0 vote of our city council in favor of the bond was enough to get all those voters in Manzanita to the polls,
and two-thirds of them resoundingly rejected the bond. That result got me wondering how – in a very small, very informed, very engaged town – could the elected representatives so badly misjudge where their constituents stood on such a primary issue. I decided to run because that deep a divide
between the council and those it represents should not exist in a town like Manzanita.

How are you actively working to eliminate racism and other biases in your community?
As a member of the advisory committee of Tillamook County Wellness and its committee on Access to Healthy Food, I have been engaged in discussions with community health colleagues about how systemic racism impacts health outcomes locally. We’ve had similar conversations on the board of the Rinehart Clinic. I had the benefit during my career of being part of several very diverse workplaces, at organizations focusing on social justice and equity issues. Those experiences have prepared me well to address issues of bias, when they arise, as a member of council.

There are many divisive issues facing our communities. How do you resolve conflicts?
I’ve been both a mediator and a hearings officer, and in both roles I developed dispute resolutions skills. I’ve also worked in more adversarial or contentious roles, at times, as a lawyer, lobbyist, and policy advocate. I think that my familiarity with conflict makes me somewhat more comfortable dealing with it than some others might be. But I also think that in Manzanita, some of what is being called “division” is really just honest disagreement among good people who can certainly work through their differences. I will begin, if elected, by sitting down with the two councilors not currently on the ballot to better understand their perspectives on our areas of disagreement. And, I will ask them to put me in touch with citizens they feel can be particularly helpful to me as I delve deeper into the issues council will face.