City council slate features new mayor and councilor
The candidate slate for the Prineville City Council is set, and people can expect some changes after the election in November.
Three people have filed for three vacant city council positions and another candidate is running for Prineville mayor.
Current mayor, Steve Uffelman, is not seeking another mayoral term, but is instead running for a city council position. Uffelman served five terms as mayor throughout his 28 years on the city council. Not all of those terms have been consecutive, with his current two-year term having followed several four-year terms as a councilor.
Uffelman said his primary reason for stepping back to a council position is related to time commitment.
"I serve on, last count, 17 boards and committees locally, regionally and at the state level," he said. "I have two years left on my appointment to the board of directors at the League of Oregon Cities and Community Renewable Energy Association. I also serve on an advisory committee for Oregon Department of Transportation and have agreed to serve on a new committee on diversity, equity and inclusion. All of these are at the state level. Stepping back to a council position permits me to continue and fulfill these commitments."
Goals for Uffelman include seeing the completion of a new police department building and 911 dispatch center.
"Expansion of existing businesses and recruiting additional businesses to Prineville to provide additional family wage, benefitted jobs is my highest priority," Uffelman added. "The extension of Combs Flat and Peters Road will significantly improve traffic flow through town and provide a much safer route for kids to attend Barnes Butte Elementary. The city began improving on our JEDI (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion) several years ago. There is more work to be done."
Likely filling Uffelman's vacated mayor position will be Jason Beebe, who has served as a councilor for the past 10 years. Beebe has shown an interest in the mayoral position throughout his time on the council. In 2010, he ran against Betty Roppe, who would go on to serve as mayor for the next eight years before retiring. Shortly after the 2010 election, Beebe was appointed to fill a council vacancy and then he was elected to a four-year term in 2012. He announced plans to run for mayor again in 2016, but later decided to seek another council term instead.
Having served another four years, Beebe felt like it was just the right time to run for mayor.
"I have always wanted to be mayor," he said. "I love this city and want to give back in whatever way I can, and being the mayor is one of the best ways I can think of to do that."
Beebe acknowledges that it's cliché, but he wants to continue the pursuit of new businesses and focus on keeping the community safe.
"I would love nothing more than to see the timber industry make some type of comeback, although it will likely never be as big as it was, but to see people working in the woods again would be great," he said. "I'm willing to work with our representative in congress and our two senators to help get this done."
In addition to two current council members returning in switched roles, another councilor is seeking re-election to her current position. Gail Merritt, who has served since 2010, is running for another four-year term.
Merritt could not be reached for comment regarding her candidacy by press deadline.
One final candidate will be a newcomer to the council. Raymond Law grew up in Prineville and graduated from Crook County High School in 1993. After graduating, he spent 20 years in the U.S. Army before moving back home in 2015.
"In the last five years, I have worked for Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, the U.S Forest Service and most recently Pro Unlimited as a Site Coordinator at the Prineville Data Center," he said.
Law has also spent the past five years volunteering for a variety of organizations and causes. He has been involved with Prineville Elks Lodge, Band of Brothers, the Backpack Food Program, Holiday Partnership Food Drive, clothing drives for the Family Access Network, Prineville Soroptimists Senior Center, and several projects supporting MountainStar Relief Nursery.
"I decided to seek a city council position so I could make a larger impact on the community. I also think it is an honorable way to continue to serve my country and my community," Law said. "I believe that my life experiences through military service have enabled me to have a broader outlook on culture and diversity. My open mindedness and ability so see things from multiple points of view that I may not share will be an asset to the council and the constituents of our great town."
Law would like to see continued growth for low-income housing and hopes to see more progress on a sports complex that Beebe proposed several years ago to the city council.
"I also want to help Prineville's reputation continue to grow as one that is accepting and desired by people from all walks of life," he said.
The Crook County general election, during which all city council positions will be decided, takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
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