Madras gets new city council member
Tuesday, July 27, Madras City Council members elected Gabriel Soliz to fill an empty seat on the panel.
"I was honestly shocked," said Soliz. "There were a lot of great candidates."
The four others contending for the position were Regina Macko, who owns a Madras business, Ana Young, who works for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Dr. Patricia Spencer, a Madras physician in private practice, and Bruce Irwin, a grant administrator.
Councilors interviewed the candidates last month and presented their ballots at the July 27 meeting.
Soliz says he was pleasantly surprised. "I think I showed initiative," he said. "I've been going to the council meetings since January. I wanted to show them I was able to make the commitment to attend meetings and learn as much as I can prior to stepping into the role."
At 25, Soliz is certainly the youngest on the current council, and may be the youngest member ever on the Madras City Council. "I don't know," says City Recorder Lysa Vattimo. "They didn't used to keep records like they keep now."
"I love Madras. I've bought a house here. I'm starting a family here," says Soliz. He and his wife expect a daughter in October. "I want to be a voice in the city for positive change for those of us who live here."
Soliz has lived in Central Oregon since he was 2 years old and moved to Madras in 2014. He was homeschooled until he went to college at Central Oregon Community College, then graduated from Oregon State University with a major in business administration.
He currently works for Jefferson County as a staff accountant and deputy tax collector.
"Learning my position is going to be first and foremost on my mind," says Soliz. Beyond that he wants to encourage more community engagement, improve infrastructure and transportation. "The highway is pretty busy through town, and we see a lot of accidents and fatalities," says Soliz. "I'd like to reduce that and make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists."
The January resignation of Austin Throop created the vacancy on the council. He resigned after the council began investigating derogatory statements Throop posted on Facebook about another councilor.
Soliz will complete Throop's four-year term.
All current members welcomed Soliz to the council and several mentioned how happy they were to see so many qualified candidates show interest in serving on the council.
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