Monday, November 14, 2011/lk
"Lance is in there."
With those words from Tom Cramblett, a new chapter in city leadership began Thursday in Cascade Locks.
Mayor Lance Masters took the oath of office as did the four newly appointed councilors, in a short special meeting led by Council Member Cramblett, who had entertained a motion for nominations.
Council Member Gail Lewis nominated Lance Masters, and was seconded by Eva Zerfing. Cramblett abstained, along with Masters.
"I'm grateful the council has entrusted me with the position of mayor," said Masters, who joined council in 2009.
Also taking the oath of office were newly appointed councilors Jeff Helfrich, Randy Holmstrom, Mark Storm and Lewis.
All four of the new councilors pointed to the fire and emergency services department as the top priority for the city, as did Masters.
"The main thing is fixing the fire department; but bigger than that is to get the community to work together, and to the extent that I'm able to do that, I will," Masters said. The city plans at least one town hall meeting to take input from the community.
"A positive first step is to involve the whole community in these first decisions, and to be as efficient as possible; but sometimes you have to sacrifice efficiency to be sure everybody's heard," Masters said.
Councilor Eva Zerfing nominated Cramblett as council president.
The brief meeting first involved Storm, Lewis and Helfrich taking turns with the oath, administered by City Recorder Kathy Woosley. That left one councilor to swear in after a mayor was chosen; the councilor-appointed mayor in effect resigns the position and then takes the oath as mayor.
Cramblett then asked for nominations, and Helfrich put forth Masters' name. Zerfing seconded it, and discussion supported Masters. There were no other nominations.
"It's appropriate we have someone elected rather than appointed to serve as mayor," Helfrich said. "The voters have spoken on behalf of Lance twice; first when he was elected and then they reaffirmed him," Helfrich said, referring to the Sept. 20 city council recall vote, which Masters survived by a 60-40 percent margin.
In that election, voters recalled former mayor George Fischer and council members Tiffany Pruit, Haight and Kevin Benson. (None of the former council members were present Thursday.)
ers' oath, Holmstrom took the oath to fill that seat.
"I'm here just to help," said Holmstrom, who had been on council from 2006-2010, when he decided not to run again. He will serve a one-year term, as will Helfrich and Lewis.
"It's a short time, but we have a lot of repairing to do," said Holmstrom, who works as an inspector for Department of Motor Vehicles.
Helfrich, a sergeant with the Portland Police Bureau, said "I'm very honored and privileged to serve the community I live in. Making sure we have public safety has always been my priority; that and rebuilding the citizens' trust in city government. You don't want what happened to happen again.
"You have to listen," he said.
Lewis said, "I'm kind of looking forward to it (serving.) We have lots of constructive opportunities. In my opinion the budget was butchered and there's some opportunity, in my opinion, to try to be creative." Lewis, a 20-year city resident and retiree, worked in information technology for U.S. Bank.
Storm, who works for an aluminum company in The Dalles, said "When we moved here three years ago I never would have thought in a million years I'd be on City Council, so it's pretty neat."
Storm, who will serve a three-year term, added, "I feel like Cascade Locks is the Gorge's next town. I think there's a lot of room for growth."
Cramblett said he abstained from voting for Masters because "I didn't believe I was involved in the picking of anybody anyway, the way it went."
In the Oct. 24 special meeting of Zerfing, Masters and Cramblett, only Zerfing and Masters were allowed to vote on council applicants because Cramblett had been appointed presiding officer, a non-voting position.
Cramblett said, "A point of order was made by Lance and they went with it since it was the three of us, not a quorum. I thought we were trying to create a fair thing.
"It was a political move and I wasn't on top of the political moves," Cramblett said. "I thought it would have been much more fair to say all three of us could vote."
Asked why he did not press for the right to vote, Cramblett said, "It was political maneuvering. I was stunned. I wasn't expecting it and I wasn't prepared to take that on at the time.
"I was happy with the previous council, but I'm happy to work with the new one," said Cramblett who, in his fifth year on council, is the senior member.
"What my push has been is to kind of stay on the money issues and try to make an affordable government for people," Cramblett said.
"I think the people we have in there (on council) from their past history will make it an expensive government. But I am willing to wait and see.
"I'm looking for honest information, good information that whatever direction we're heading in, for all our departments, to be honest in what we're going to be giving them (taxpayers) and what they want to do," Cramblett went on.
"Hopefully we'll get some town halls going and not just town halls but a variety of things on expectations and what (residents) are prepared to handle. You've got to be really honest about what it's going to cost them," Cramblett said.
"The problem with the city is we're focused on emergency services, but we have other issues, like power (supply), and the water system will need to be upgraded.
"We need to look at it on a holistic basis. We can't look at one department and one event, and these other things all fall apart. You've got to understand you pay for this but you also have to pay for this, and this, and this."
The new council will meet for the first time in regular session on Nov. 14. Council priorities and the contract for interim city administrator Paul Koch will both be on the agenda.