Ashland parks panel recommends Jim Bachman replace Mike Gardiner
By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news
The Ashland City Council will likely vote Tuesday on the appointment of a temporary Parks & Recreation Commissioner, following the resignation of longtime Commissioner Mike Gardiner on Jan. 31.
The council will consider voting on one of the three candidates to fill the vacant commission post at their regular meeting. The candidate who is selected will serve as a temporary appointment until November, when an election for the No. 3 Parks Commission seat will be held.
Rick Landt, chair of the Parks & Recreation Commission, told Ashland.news Friday afternoon that the commission unanimously recommends Jim Bachman for the position, and also sent the names of two additional finalists for the council to consider: Kerry KenCairn, a landscape architect and former Planning Commissioner; and Eric Hansen, the owner of Rogue Valley-based True South Solar.
Landt said the commission recommends Bachman due to his active interest in parks and senior services. He attended parks meetings for two years and ran for Parks & Recreation Commission in 2018 but lost, 56-44%, to current Commissioner Julian Bell.
“Our No. 1 goal for this biennium was to secure a funding source that we could count on and he has been on the budget committee for the past two years,” Landt said. “So his background and his interest line up with our goals.”
Landt emphasized that the commission was capable of bringing one solid recommendation to council members, despite council’s requirement for the commission to forward the names of three candidates to consider.
City Councilor Gina DuQuenne said Monday she doesn’t know yet who she’s voting for and wants to hear more from the other two finalists.
“I wish it would’ve been a little more collaborative,” DuQuenne said, “between commission and council. I’m glad we did see three picks of theirs instead of one.”
DuQuenne believes there are some “pretty good candidates” who applied for the role. Eight completed the application process and three selected for final consideration.
She hopes to see more diversity on the commission, including more individuals with new ideas.
“I would like to see more diversity on the Parks Commission, with ideas and new energy and new direction, because to me that’s what keeps us going and keeps us motivated,” she said.
DuQuenne noted that Leslie Eldridge is now on the Parks & Recreation Commission and is glad to see her in the role on the commission, which also has three men.
DuQuenne mentioned Bachman was not chosen during the 2018 election.
“I made a call out and I’m hoping to speak with the other two candidates,” she said. “I would like to hear from the other two.”
For DuQuenne, selecting a new commissioner is not about her or the candidates, but about what’s best for the residents of Ashland.
“I feel it’s important to have the right commissioners,” DuQuenne said. “My opinion and thoughts are that we need to have the right people in the right seats.”
The council meeting, held via Zoom, is due to start at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 16. It can be watched live on Ashland Home Net Channel 9, Charter Spectrum RVTV 180 Prime, or streaming live online by going to rvtv.sou.edu and clicking on the RVTV Prime button.