Ashland Council’s Action on Vacated Seats and the Citizen’s Budget Committee

Ashland City Council last night approved plans for quickly replacing Julie Akins as mayor and Shaun Moran on the Council, while also appointing one woman and four men to the Citizens Budget Committee. 

Councilors agreed that they would first look to see if any of them were interested in serving as mayor before going through an application process of other possible candidates.  At one point Councilor Gina DuQuenne proposed the immediate selection of Councilor Tonya Graham to fill out the remaining two years in Akins’ term, but this got no where.  DuQuenne said Graham was the most experienced member of the Council and has served as the backup mayor.

The position could be filled at next week’s meeting, however, if Graham or another Councilor steps forward.

To replace Moran, the Council decided to accept applications for the slot through 5 p.m. Feb. 14 with the goal of making a selection the following week.  DuQuenne proposed that Jill Franko be appointed since she had the highest number of votes of candidates in last November’s election who didn’t win. She said Franko, an elected school board member, was willing to serve.  The suggestion was dropped after not being supported by any other councilor.

Akins and Moran resigned last week saying it was time for them to leave.  Both had been on the short end of a number of votes on the Council and supported three losing Council candidates in last year’s election.  Akins served two years as mayor and two years on the Council.  Moran served two years.

Council had nine candidates for a record number of vacancies on the Budget Committee, which is charged with recommending to Council a two-year budget beginning July 1 and the property tax rate. 

 Named to serve through 2025 were Andy Card, an unsuccessful candidate for City Council three years ago, and Jeff Dahle, chair of the city Airport Commission.  

One year appointments were given to Transportation Committee Chair Linda Peterson-Adams and former Councilor Eric Navickis.  

Former Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Mike Gardner was named to a five-months term ending June 30.  The term lengths were determined by the number of votes each candidate received from the five Council members.

Council also approved a budget committee schedule beginning April 27 with weekly meetings through May 25.  In addition, Council asked for the scheduling of an earlier meeting for training of new committee members and election of officers. 

Card, a seven year city resident, is a local restaurant owner and former international businessman. In his application he said he has a “strong interest in seeing the city thrive” and that it “allocates resources wisely.”

Dahle, an Ashland native and city resident for the past 33 years, is a former small business owner with corporate experience.  He said in his application that he’s committed to the city’s “long-term financial success.”

Peterson-Adams, a 12-year city resident, is a retired gardener and educator who has worked on city transportation issues for four years. She’s been active in city politics withdrawing from last year’s Council race due to her role as chair of State Senator Jeff Golden’s reelection campaign.   She said she wants to ensure that the policies of the mayor and Council are carried out through the budget which must be balanced.

Navickas, a 30-year city resident, is a farmer who has a booth at the Farmer’s Market and previously served one four-year term on City Council. In his application, he said he would add to the “breadth of citizens” on the committee.

Mike Gardiner, a 37-year city resident, was a former city Planning Commission chair and a member of the Parks Commission for 18 years, many of them as the chair.  He said his qualifications included knowing the process well after having attended most of the Budget Committee meetings the last 20 years.

The mayor and Council members also serve on the 14-member Budget Committee which this year could face major challenges in coming up with a budget that balances revenues and expenditures.

At a weekend forum, Councilor Graham asserted that the city is facing a revenue shortfall.