Autumn ushers in colorful foliage and November elections. Along with national, state and regional candidates and measures, Eagle Point’s ballot will include a mayoral race, as well as three contenders running for three slots as city councilors. Mayor Bob Russell, and City Council hopefuls Bill Fierke and Wayne Brown were asked to name three main issues that concern the city, what they think can specifically be done to solve these problems, and their qualifications to assist in the process. Aaron Prunty, also running for City Council, was unavailable for comment.
Mayor Russell is up for re-election. He notes that the city’s high unemployment rate illustrates the need for economic development, a process started with the recent passage of the Regional Problem Solving Plan. The Plan allows the city to define its urban growth boundaries, and the city is looking at an enterprise zone for business development. Russell decried the lack of bus transportation to this area, an issue being studied by a core committee of stakeholders (the school district, the city, and local businesses). They will consider the findings of a survey completed by randomly selected local residents when the results are available. Finally, the mayor spoke to the lack of support for downtown businesses. He will do all in his power to encourage new enterprises and to encourage local citizens to patronize them.
Mayor Russell hopes to see more parks and walking paths, and the development of Little Butte Creek access as an aid to educate youth in ecological matters. He further desires to see the historical society re-established. He praised the hiring of new personnel for city recorder, city planner, and city manager. He said, “It is an exception, not the rule, to have a council that works together so well. They can agree to disagree and move forward.”
“The first two years are a learning curve,” Russell says of his first term, where he learned about Eagle Point and which state agencies can assist the community’s growth. When asked if he had anything to add, Russell said, “I couldn’t be happier living in Eagle Point. It’s a great community and I just want to make it a better place to live.”
C. Wayne Brown was appointed to fill a vacancy on City Council, and now seeks to be elected to the position. He sees the main issue facing the community as the need for economic development, stating that in the 1970’s Eagle Point was the fastest growing town in Oregon. Things have dramatically changed since then. Brown would like to see small industry come to the area, but in order to attract people, “We need to improve the quality of living.” Part of that improvement is the development of downtown. Brown says the city needs to make sure it lives up to its motto, “Positively Eagle Point,” that its goals and plans are consistent with that sentiment. City government needs to “get us off center—to be in it for the long haul and be careful with the funds,” working to accomplish goals piece by piece. As is true with the city’s streets, preventative maintenance is necessary in government. When something needs tackling, he wants to tackle it and move forward.
Having raised his four children in Eagle Point, Brown feels he knows the city, its history and personality. He sees himself as an observant man and one willing to ask questions. Mostly, Wayne Brown desires Eagle Point to become a place where people will truly seek to live.
Bill Fierke also sits on City Council as an appointee and now seeks to fill the position as an elected official. Along with others, he is concerned about the need for economic development in Eagle Point. He noted the work toward creating enterprise zones that allow tax considerations to create jobs. A major problem in the community is providing the services needed with the funds available, but he is pleased with the current allocation of funds. Eagle Point has its own police department, although they contract fire and sewer services, and partner with Medford for water. With the downturn in the golf course development, the city needs to seek other ways to procure funds and provide services.
Another area of concern for Fierke is the city’s infrastructure—making sure the water tank is okay and addressing the city’s deteriorating roads. The Council is taking steps in both those areas, and he will support their continued efforts.
Fierke says his forty-plus years of business experience have qualified him to do several things in-house rather than the city having to hire a consultant. With his budgeting background, he knows when to spend money in order to save money in the future. “You run a city like you run a business, that being—make decisions based on being fiscally responsible. It’s a balancing act.” After a prolonged absence from Oregon, Bill Fierke chose to call Eagle Point his home and has no regrets.