Nineteen file to fill Moran and Graham’s seats on six-member council
By Stephen Floyd, Ashland.news
Applicants for two open seats on the Ashland City Council represent a wide diversity of backgrounds, from blue-collar residents to a former gubernatorial candidate.
A total of 19 applications were received by a deadline of Tuesday, Feb. 14, and the council hopes to interview candidates through Monday, Feb. 20.
“”The number of applications is not surprising,” commented City Manager Joe Lessard, “given that there are two seats and Ashland is a very engaged community.”
If two candidates are identified, the council could make an appointment at its regular business meeting Tuesday, Feb. 21, or at a special business meeting called for Wednesday, Feb. 22, but could also delay appointments until its next business meetings on March 7 and 21. Councilor Position No. 2 must be filled by March 24, while Position No. 3 must be filled by April 8, according to time limits set in the city charter.
The seats became vacant after the abrupt resignations last month of former Mayor Julie Akins and former Councilor Shaun Moran. The council appointed then-Councilor Tonya Graham to fill Akin’s seat on Feb. 7, and Mayor Graham’s former council seat became open.
Both positions will be up for reelection in November 2024. Position No. 2 will be for a two-year-term (the remainder of would have been Graham’s second council term) and Position No. 3 will be for a full four-year term (succeeding what would have been Moran’s seat).
Sixteen of the applicants asked to be considered for both positions, two for Position No. 2 and one for Position No. 3.
Applicants include three former council candidates from the 2022 General Election, two current members of the Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission, several local businesspeople, former educators, working-class residents and a recent candidate for the Democratic nomination for Oregon governor. Below are the applicants listed in the order published by the city (click here to view the full packet of applications):
- Gerard Boulanger, former owner of a carpet-cleaning company who served as a city councilor in Hercules, Calif., from 2012 to 2018. He has lived in Ashland for two years and said he wants to serve on the council to represent the voices of the city. (Boulanger asked to be considered for Position No. 2.)
- Patt Herdklotz, a retired chaplain with Lovejoy Hospice and a minister with the Unitarian Universalist Association. She has served locally on the Ashland Airport Commission. Herdklotz believes a councilor’s role is to guide the community and advance quality of life. (Herdklotz asked to be considered for Position No. 3.)
- Linda Peterson Adams, a former high school teacher who planned to run for City Council during the 2022 general election but withdrew to focus on her role as field operations officer for the re-election campaign of state Sen. Jeff Golden. She has served on the Ashland Transportation Commission, Ashland Transportation Advisory Committee, and Ashland Food Project Board.
- Sharon Dohrmann, an information technology (IT) specialist and consultant within the healthcare industry. She moved to Ashland from San Francisco a decade ago with her husband and two young children so they could grow up in a small town. This would be her first government position, and she believes her professional experience with budgeting, personnel management and administrative tasks will help her succeed.
- Jill Franko, a member of the Ashland School District Board who ran for city council in the 2022 general election, losing to Councilor Bob Kaplan. Franko remains interested in serving on the council to be an inspiring force for the community and city leaders. She wants to improve the health of the local economy, area schools and Ashland households.
- Dr. Julian Bell, a local physician who served on the Ashland Parks and Recreation commissioner from 2018 to 2022. Bell unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for Oregon governor in the 2022 primary election. He believes he would play a collaborative and analytical role in city government.
- Dylan Bloom, a blue-collar worker and graduate of Ashland High School and Southern Oregon University, with a background in media production and political science. He believes more young, working-class Ashlanders should become civically engaged, and that the council should take an education- and research-based approach to leadership.
- Lauren Lewis, entrepreneur and self-described “Jill-of-all-trades.” She believes her passion for creative problem-solving and her perspective as a woman in her 30s will help cut unnecessary spending and bureaucratic delays.
- Jeffrey Dahle, a native Ashlander with a background in corporate administration and current owner of Rogue Aviate LLC. He is chair of the Ashland Airport Commission and serves on the Budget Committee. Dahle believes a council position is about more than policymaking and should provide a source of motivation and vision for the community.
- Lyle Scheer, a test engineer who works remotely for Texas-based Oracle. He has experience in nonprofit leadership and administration related to disaster relief through Redwood Mutual Water Company, of Redwood Estates, California. Scheer said he would bring this experience to the council and work as the interface between Ashland and other public agencies.
- Jon Merripen, owner of Blade And Fist Martial Arts where he teaches fung ku. Merripen was a candidate for City Council during the 2022 general election, but withdrew to support another candidate. He hopes to bring more diversity of opinion to the council and promote policies that serve the broadest number of citizens. (Merripen asked to be considered for Position No. 2.)
- Sidney Brown, executive director of photo research company PhotoAssist, Inc. She wants to prioritize fiscal responsibility, measured against the needs of local families and the environment. She believes a councilor is a link between their constituents and city administration.
- Mark Brouillard, a product manager for International Coatings Company. He serves as vice chair of the Ashland Transportation Advisory Committee, and has volunteered in search-and-rescue and disaster preparedness. He believes a councilor should make unbiased decisions and take deliberate steps toward the city’s goals.
- Jim Bachman, a retired educator and current member of the Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission. He previously served on Ashland’s Citizens’ Budget Committee. Bachman said he hopes to restore order to the council after a turbulent few years, including exceptionally high turnover among city staff.
- Russell Phillips, CEO of DomeGuys International LLC and member of the Committee for Ashland Elementary School Rebalancing Committee. Phillips believes the city budget should be a priority, along with affordable housing and sustainable growth. He said he enjoys problem solving and seeking out solutions that benefit everyone.
- Leslie Gore, a business operations manager for technology company Becton Dickinson. She has lived in Ashland for 20 years and believes strongly in the value of civil service. Gore said she would like to see the council focus on reinvigorating downtown and eliminating empty storefronts.
- Kimber Bishop, an independent healthcare consultant who moved to Ashland mid-pandemic in 2020. She believes the city should balance its budget and raise revenue to meet its infrastructure needs. She said a councilor should make informed, transparent decisions and prioritize community impact.
- Craig Anderson, a retired senior planner for Jackson County and member of land use watchdog Rogue Advocates. He believes affordable housing, city staffing and a balanced budget are the biggest challenges before Ashland. He said a councilor should guide staff without micromanaging, and ensure public resources are spent wisely.
- Shawn Saleme, an artist and world traveler who moved to Ashland last year to raise his family. Saleme found himself engaged with the local culture of volunteerism and hopes to inspire other younger people to be involved. He said a councilor should be a representative of the people.
Feb. 19 update: Information and link added regarding Ashland City Council calling a special business meeting for Wednesday, Feb. 22.