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Five hopefuls are running for three open positions in this November's election.

Five candidates are running for three open positions on the Estacada City Council. Incumbents Jerry Tenbush and Micheal McElroy and newcomers Heidi Prokop, John Calder and Ronda Craig have all filed candidacy for the council's three open positions in the Tuesday, Nov. 8, election.

The Estacada News sent a series of questions to all candidates. Craig did not respond to the request for comment. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.


Estacada News: What inspired you to run for City Council?

Tenbush: I have served for the last four years and feel like I have unfinished business. There is so much more work to do. The council needs to be balanced. City Council cannot represent the whole Estacada community with seven people who all think the same way. I feel I represent a large portion of the community that might not have representation if I am not elected.

Calder: This is an exciting time to be in Estacada. There is so much opportunity for us to grow together. To become a community that looks out for each other. My desire is to help develop that growth. To volunteer my time and energy toward making our community wonderful. To unite us together with a common goal: Becoming the best citizens we can be in Estacada.

Prokop: After the fires of 2020 and seeing how our town came together, I felt the need to contribute more in our community. I have been dedicating some of my personal time to volunteering in Estacada, and seeing how truly rewarding it is has made public service a major calling for me. I can't think of a better way to serve than to make the residents of Estacada feel like their voices are heard as part of the City Council.

McElroy: I wanted to have a role in the decisions that were being made that will impact the community that my family and I live, where I work and where my children attend school.


EN: What do you want voters to know about your background and experience?

Tenbush: I have lived in Estacada for almost 30 years. I have countless volunteer hours in this community, either as a youth sports coach, HS Booster club board member, or being heavily involved in the Performing Arts Group of Estacada, including being a board member for 10-plus years.

Calder: I come from a humble background. I was raised by a single mother, and we often didn't have food in the cupboard. In my early 20s I went on a two-year religious mission. During that time, I also saw diverse situations that people live in. This increased a desire to help others. Several years ago, I had an opportunity to volunteer on a school board as treasurer. I also had an opportunity to teach a juggling class for K-8 graders due to being on the board. I have a passion for teaching children and youth. I received a bachelor of science degree in mathematics, with a minor in astronomy. Although I put in the work and dedication to receive this, I was fortunate enough to receive government grants, scholarships and loans to help fund this education. This made me see the privilege that is granted to American citizens for strengthening our education. This also helped develop me for a successful career, using my math skills, in retirement plans.

Prokop: I began my experience serving Estacada in a volunteer capacity when I took part in the Charter Review Committee. Our committee came to a consensus on a recommendation to the City Council for the term length of the office of mayor and a reexamination of City Council rules.

I also began a 'Friends of the Estacada Fountain' group that advocates for the upkeep of the fountain at City Hall, created by mosaic artist Mimi Near.

I am currently treasurer of the Estacada Area Arts Commission, where we promote community involvement in the arts. It has been a rewarding experience to bring the community together in this fashion because people from all walks of life can enjoy and interpret it in their own way. Putting on free and accessible art events allows everyone to come together.

McElroy: I have been married to my amazing wife for 23 years, I have four children, two still in the house and two that are grown. We have four grandchildren. I work for Locke Buildings, a growing company within the city of Estacada. I am responsible for helping manage construction projects from conception to completion. My position has afforded me the opportunity to work on a large volume of projects with people from all over the local area and an amazing group of co-workers. I am presented daily with opportunities in need of creative solutions that serve both my customers and employer well. I believe that both my project management experience and problem solving skills will serve me well on the council.


EN: What should the council's top three priorities be?

Tenbush: Finding funding for the wastewater treatment plant. Public safety, all aspects. Finally, continue to find a way to fill the buildings on Main Street with businesses that can be successful in Estacada.

Calder: 1. Responsible growth. Making sure that we have the appropriate infrastructure in place to support this growth.

2. Public safety. Making sure that we fund the appropriate law enforcement presence for our city. I had an opportunity to go on a ride-along with a Clackamas County sheriff in August. It was wonderful to see the dedication our sheriffs have toward serving the county in the best possible way and making sure we are safe. It was also eye-opening to see the amount of work that is put into one call. I believe it is key to make sure we have enough sheriffs dedicated to Estacada, so that emergencies are handled timely.

3. Community engagement. We have many avenues for community engagement — various committees and events the city is involved with. It seems, however, there are many voices that want to be heard, often when the time to be heard is past. I would like the council to explore ways to be directly involved in robust measures of direct community engagement. How do we help people know when and where to be if they want to be heard at the right time to make an impact in their community?

Prokop: Education — Despite the last bond measure failing in 2020, I would like to see the council find ways that the city can assist with improvements to the infrastructure of our public school buildings. We need to accommodate our growing population and the families that are already here.

City parks — I would like the focus of neighborhood parks to be scaled down to accommodate the residents that are within walking distance to the park. Parks with amenities such as dog parks, trails, splash pads and sports courts should be reserved for larger community parks with the whole population of Estacada in mind.

Traffic/housing — Along with the continued focus on the cost of housing in Estacada, I would like to see implementation of access roads built in parallel with new developments to ease traffic congestion.

McElroy: Focusing on improving the lives of current residents. Attracting businesses that will create good paying jobs for locals. Managing the growth of the city in a way that will not change the reasons that people want to live here in the first place.


EN: If elected, what are the most valuable traits you would bring to the council?

Tenbush: I put in a lot of time reading the packet and learning about what we are doing. I typically do not have a lot of questions during the council meetings because I try to get my questions answered or figure out the answer before the meeting. I would rather go into the council meetings ready to make an informed decision.

Calder: I am detail-oriented and very logical. I study IRS regulations and can use that skill to understand government laws and how they relate to the development and sustainability of our city. I have a passion for making sure that everyone's voice is heard and respected. I'm patient and willing to listen to anyone, willing to acknowledge my biases and treat all fairly.

Prokop: In my professional background in the medical field for the last 15 years, I have developed a great attention to detail. I believe that will allow me to do thorough research on issues that are before the City Council. In addition, I believe I have the empathy needed to listen and consider all viewpoints and not just my own.

McElroy: I am dependable, loyal, competent, self-controlled and respectful.

EN: Share one area in which you think the current City Council does well, and another area in which you would like to see improvement.

Tenbush: One thing the current City Council did well was hiring CM Melanie Wagner. Estacada has an amazing city staff that work diligently.

Calder: The current City Council has a passion for serving the town of Estacada and volunteering their energy to making the city the best it can be. At times I see the current City Council in conflict with each other. Discussion is fine, but I think a key to a successful City Council is willingness to patiently listen and work together for a mutual goal of strengthening Estacada. Recognizing that although the group that you speak to is part of a voice of Estacada, but it is also important to hear and serve all citizens of Estacada.

Prokop: My observations of public meetings have led me to believe that the current City Council does well with their research, and it's evident that a lot of preparation is done beforehand. There are a lot of well thought out questions for presenters and their focus is clear. I would like to see more positive discourse between councilors by working through their differences in a productive manner.

McElroy: I was appointed to the council in August and would like an opportunity to work with them before deciding on areas where we can improve. I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with all of them.

EN: What's your favorite part of living in Estacada?

Tenbush: Estacada is a jewel! The growth in town doesn't change that. Our town is within three hours of beaches, mountains, desert, city life, pretty much anything you could want to do. But, my favorite part of Estacada is the community. The way the community comes together in the face of tragedy.

Calder: I really enjoy the downtown art in Estacada and the growing food cart options. In addition, I enjoy the small community of Estacada, Pokémon Go players and seeing people I know when I visit the shops in town.

Prokop: Estacada is a beautiful place, and the people here are generous and friendly. Whenever anyone asks where I live, they light up for the same reasons I have described and it is a huge sense of pride for me. My work has me commuting many miles to and from, and while it would be easier to move closer to my job, I find that I would rather commute than give up living in this wonderful town. My favorite part about living in Estacada is the small-town feel. There is a huge sense of community here, and I'd love to see it continue to be a welcoming and diverse corner of Clackamas County.

McElroy: The sense of community that our family experienced during the fires with everyone coming together was a perfect example of what we love about this city. Neighbors looking after one another and people being willing to offer their time and labor for the benefit of others is an attribute that you don't commonly find in larger cities.

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