Ashland Friends of Parks & Outdoor Spaces group suspends petition drive

Mike Gardiner holds a clipboard with an initiative petition on it in Lithia Park. Ashland.news photo by Holly Dillemuth
July 12, 2022

City Council to consider request to nix initiative at July 19 meeting

By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news

Ashland Friends of Parks & Outdoor Spaces, a group that initially set out to put an initiative on the November ballot that would dedicate most food and beverage tax funding to Ashland parks, has suspended its efforts for the time being.

“The only way we could proceed forward was to suspend because there was no way to get enough signatures by the end of July,” said Mike Gardiner, a group petitioner and former commissioner on the Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission.

The Friends group also includes Mark Knox, Jim Bachman, Anne Bellegia and Rebecca Kay. Following the July 5 Ashland City Council meeting, Gardiner told Ashland.news the group decided to put a halt to efforts to the petition.

Gardiner said “suspending” the petition means it is still valid but that the effort to gather signatures in time to put it on the November ballot has been halted, which essentially means that the group has the ability to come back at a future date, and continue gathering signatures to put the measure on the ballot, when appropriate.

“If the city manager’s ballot failed in the fall, then we would come back to our measure in the spring,” Gardiner said.

Gardiner said the group could’ve waited until July 19 for city staff to recommend next steps to Ashland City Council in terms of language on the ballot related to the two initiatives.

“We didn’t think that would be clear to the voters,” Gardiner said.

“The clock ran out,” he added.

Ashland City Manager Joe Lessard said the City Council is aware of the request and he anticipates that councilors will honor a request to remove the Ashland Friends of Parks & Outdoor Spaces initiative.

“We’ll see what the council wants to do going forward because they could technically still refer it as a ballot item if they wanted to,” Lessard told Ashland.news. “I would expect … that they would honor the request of those who submitted the petition.”

The Ashland City Council next meets  at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 19, at 1175 E. Main St., Ashland. The meeting will also be aired live on Rogue Valley Community Television (RVTV) and the public can comment via a virtual platform or in person.

Reach Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth at hollyd@ashland.news.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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