Meet the candidates for Estacada City Council
Three incumbents and three new candidates have entered the race for three Estacada City Council seats that are up for election this November.
Councilors are elected at-large, meaning the three candidates who garner the highest amount of votes will serve on the council. For the Nov. 6 election, incumbents Aaron Gant, Justin Gates and Dan Neujahr have been joined by challengers Katy Dunsmuir, Bryan Short and Jerry Tenbush.
The Estacada News interviewed each candidate about their inspiration to run for office and the priorities they would bring to the council if elected.
Katy Dunsmuir is running for Estacada City Council to represent, as she said, the average citizen.
"I'm running to represent the everyday, average working mom," she said."
Dunsmuir noted that voices of younger Estacadans are not heard as much as they could be, and she wants to change that.
"Millennials make up a huge percentage of the economy, but we don't have a strong voice at the local level," she said.
As Estacada moves into the future, Dunsmuir said it's valuable to keep key aspects of the city's identity in place.
"With Estacada changing as we grow, we need to keep the character. I'm speaking up with a voice for everyone who says 'Don't change too much.'"
If elected, Dunsmuir plans to focus on facilitating safe routes to school, increasing Estacada's business friendly reputation and advocating for certain road improvements.
"Don't over do it. We don't need a bike path that extends to the industrial park because most people in Estacada don't need to commute by bike," she said.
This is Dunsmuir's first time running for public office. She serves as an apartment manager and works at a low-income housing community in Milwaukie.
She is eager to connect with voters in-person and on her Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/Katy4council, where she plans to have a weekly video blog series.
Dunsmuir is eager to serve the city.
"If you want to see change in a certain direction, you need to be involved," she said. "I chose to raise my family here because I love it so much. Estacada is one of the greatest loves in my life."
A desire to continue serving Estacada citizens led Councilor Aaron Gant to run for reelection.
"I've felt like we've accomplished some and have more to do. The job is not complete," said Gant, who has been a member of the City Council for four years and has served as the group's president for the last two.
Gant sells communication systems to government agencies and businesses and is a member of the Estacada Rural Fire District's budget committee. Prior his election to the City Council, he was a member of the city's budget committee.
If elected to another term, Gant hopes to continue focusing on improving public safety and code enforcement, developing the city's downtown core and increasing pedestrian safety.
During his time on the council thus far, Gant has been happy to see paving projects on Lake Shore Drive and Broadway Street underway.
"I preach to the city staff about doing that, and applying for grants and moving in the right direction," he said. "There's more to be done, but we've done some to check that box a little bit."
Gant said "the council exists to serve the people, and make decisions accordingly."
"We need to listen to them and hear their voices and concerns," he said, noting that it's important to consider all decisions carefully. "Make sure you're thoughtful to the people and the businesses (and ask) how will this impact the community."
Gant added that he frequently travels around the state for work and is proud to call Estacada home.
"I have a passion for the city of Estacada," he said.
Bryan Short is running for Estacada City Council to facilitate increased community input.
"I noticed that there was not a lot of community involvement. I'm running to be a voice for the people," he said, noting that he attended the group's meetings for several years before deciding to run.
If elected, Short hopes to encourage more constituent involvement during council meetings.
"I don't think their message is being heard. I don't see a lot of participation," he said. "The people I've talked to don't feel like they're being heard. As we're growing, the community needs to be involved."
Short works as a production foreman for Fred Meyer in Clackamas. This is his first time running for public office, though he is active in his union and attends meetings of the Estacada Parks and Recreation Commission, where his wife is a member.
Short said that if elected, one of his priorities would be to increase communication with community members.
"If something can't be done, explain why. By doing that, hopefully more people will come to meetings," he said. "Once you tell them you can't do this, maybe another idea comes up. There are more ideas the more you communicate."
He also noted that as Estacada expands, it's important to ensure that the growth is properly planned for.
"As we get bigger, hopefully we do the right thing for people that live here," he said.
Short is eager to support his fellow community members.
"I want to be a voice for the people, and make sure they're heard," he said. "I'm about the people that live here."
Councilor Justin Gates is running for reelection.
"I've lived here my whole life, and I wanted to give back," said Gates, who has served on the City Council since 2012. "I appreciate being part of everything, and I want to do it more. I like relaying what I hear from my community members."
Gates is the business development manager for Mastertech in Estacada. He is also involved with many aspects of Estacada Youth Sports and is a board member of the Oregon Burglary and Fire Alarm Association and the False Alarm Redirect Association.
During his time on the City Council, Gates has appreciated supporting local businesses through facade improvement grant programs.
"It's been nice to be a part of that," he said.
Moving forward, he is interested in focusing on parks.
"People ask about city parks as our community is growing," he said. "We need more parks by the river. I would like to see that area developed. We're sitting on a city with beautiful river access, and we don't utilize it like we could."
Gates said it's important for the City Council "to advocate for our fellow members of the city."
"I like to be on council and telling people, this is what's going on. A huge role of ours is to educate," he said. "It's important to go above and beyond and include the community."
A dedication to his hometown inspired Jerry Tenbush to enter the race for Estacada City Council.
"I want to do whatever I can to help my community," he said. "I love the little town I live in. This is not just the place where I want to raise my kids, but I want to see my grandkids and great grandkids live here."
Tenbush, who works at Toyota of Gladstone, has been involved with the Performing Arts Group of Estacada, the Estacada High School Boosters Club, the city's Active Transportation plan team and coaching local youth sports. He ran for City Council in 2016 but didn't garner enough votes to secure a seat.
"My main goal is to help the community and listen to what the community wants to make the community better for everyone," he said. "Being in the arts community, I bring a different perspective and outlook to meetings. I'm not a go with the flow, vote with the majority type of guy."
Tenbush said he is not necessarily against population growth but is more interested in seeing the city flourish while keeping its close-knit identity.
"I don't want Estacada turn into a big city, but I want to see the community get better. I want to see businesses full downtown," he said. "I want to see the city grow not so much in population, but I want this little town to get better.
Tenbush said the Estacada City Council "should be guides to help the community reach goals that they want to reach."
"They shouldn't be absolute decision makers. They should weight all the options and the pros and cons," he said.
Councilor Dan Neujahr opted to run for reelection to help see the city thrive.
Neujahr was elected to the City Council in 2015. He works as a delivery driver for FedEx and describes the council as his "first and main" involvement with public service.
If re-elected, Neujahr plans to focus on connecting the city to the Clackamas River.
"That's first and foremost on my mind," he said. "The city is actually connected to the river, but you can drive through and not realize there's a river."
He added that supporting local businesses is another significant priority.
Reflecting on his time on the council thus far, Neujahr has appreciated being involved with the city's efforts to promote the river through the Parks Master Plan and supporting businesses through the council's connection with the Urban Renewal Agency.
"Being part of the Urban Renewal Agency has been great," he said. "We've seen a lot of nice business prosperity."
Neujahr added that supporting local businesses and protecting infrastructure are two important roles of the City Council.
"It's vital for healthy, sustainable growth and to sustain our livelihoods," he said.