Administrator or Manager of Ashland? Voters Get to Decide, Maybe
By Cathy Shaw
I’ve been under the weather with some crazy viral inflammation of the membrane of my mediastinum and, therefore, have limited my appointments and time away from home-especially at night. So, needless to say, I missed the last council meeting where a decision was made to place before the voters a change to our charter to make Ashland a weak-mayor form of government.
This is a terrible idea.
I get that those urging for this change are concerned about the possibility of a problem child ascending to the mayor’s office but in doing this, you will shift all appointment powers from the mayor and council to a manager. While I love Kelly and completely trust her judgement, fact remains, she may not always be in that post.
An appointed person having full control of department head slots can do more to change the direction of the city than anything a horrible mayor could do. Currently there are only two cities in southern Oregon who have this set up: Medford and Central Point. Think about that.
I will tell you, if Ashland had a Mayor/Manager form of government when I was elected, we would not have an open-space program or funding for it; we would still be outside the Jackson County AQMA; we would not have renovated library buildings, which, in turn, would not have allowed us to break away to a library district. We would not have bolstered our school district through the Youth Activity Levy after passage of Measure 5; we would not have hillside development standards, flood plain protections or the beginning of forest management that is now a star in our legacy. Heck, even the recycling depot. All were initially opposed by majority of council and the administrator.
Further, the timing of this issue is problematic. As you know, I have committed to helping with the city’s upcoming bond/levy proposals; however, if this goes forward to the ballot, I would need to excuse myself from that effort to focus on defeating this power shift–just as I did in 2007.
Please reconsider this decision.
There are a number of ways to unroll this action. Any member on the prevailing side can vote to reconsider their vote at the next meeting; or the action can be vetoed by the mayor and then re-voted on by the council.
Cathy Shaw, Former Ashland Mayor sent to Council and Staff