Ashland Parks & Rec commission opens application process to fill vacancy

The logo of the Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission.
February 3, 2022

Seeking to select three candidates for council approval

By Holly Dillemuth,

Applications to become an Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission commissioner are now being accepted after the commission agreed to proceed at a virtual meeting Wednesday evening, two days after the City Council decided to ask the commission to forward three candidates to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of longtime Commissioner Mike Gardiner.

The council has final say in naming a new city resident to fill the remainder of Gardiner’s elected term and bring the five-member panel back to full strength. Gardiner’s resignation was effective Jan. 31. His resignation letter does not cite a reason, but he has said taut relations with the council and uncertainty regarding commission funding “was negatively affecting me.”

Mike Gardiner

Gardiner was elected to the commission in 2002, 2006, 2014 and 2018. After losing an election in 2010, he was appointed to it in 2012. His current elected term expires at the end of the year.

Parks Commissioners outlined a two-weeks application process, with hopes of having a new commission within the next two months, per city ordinance, which requires vacancies in elective offices be filled within 60 days by council appointment.

Commissioners plan to review applications in early March, before they send three candidates to Ashland City Council for final review.

“Suppose we only find two candidates suitable?” asked Commissioner Leslie Eldridge of the council’s direction. “What if three people apply and we only think that two are appropriate for the position, can we send two (to council)?”

It was emphasized that the direction from the council to the commission was specific.

“That’s true, it’s not nuanced but at the same time, we are an elected body,” said commission chair Rick Landt. “Our job is to do what we think is best for the citizens. I think let’s cross that bridge when we come to it … I hope we have lots of good candidates.”

Parks & Recreation Director Michael Black emphasized the commission values diversity on its board and specifically welcomes those in marginalized or underrepresented groups to apply.

“We would love to hear from members of the community if there is a group or a representation of a group that is traditionally not represented at this level of government so we can reach out to them as well, for diversity to make sure that this body is as well-rounded and representative of the community as it can be,” Black said.

Applications are available at For more information, email City Recorder Melissa Huhtala at call her at 541-552-2084 or 541-613-0194 (cell). General questions about the commission may be directed at Director Black (, 541-488-5340). The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16.

Commissioner Julian Bell was absent from the meeting.

Email reporter Holly Dillemuth at

Feb. 3 update: Link to online application and deadline added.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Email him at

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