ashland.news
July 24, 2024

Parks & Rec commissioners to review applicants for vacant seat

The Ashland Parks and Recreation office in Lithia Park. Bob Palermini photo
September 5, 2023

Expected to select from among 7 candidates at special meeting Wednesday

By Morgan Rothborne, Ashland.news

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commissioners are holding a special meeting Wednesday evening to fill a vacant commissioner’s seat.

Commissioner seat No.1 has been vacant since July 5, when APRC commissioners voted to have Leslie Eldridge serve as interim director after the resignation of former APRC Director Michael Black. Eldridge will serve in the role for one year for one year from her start date of Aug. 21, 2023, according to the APRC webpage.

The site lists seven candidates who have applied for the empty commissioner’s seat.

Some have previously served on the commission: former City Councilor and Commissioner Stefani Seffinger and former Commissioner Julian Bell.

Seffinger stated she wanted to serve again because, “This is a transitional time for APRC.” She listed the possibility of becoming a special district, the future of the golf course, the swimming pool and climate change as points of focus. Seffinger has served the city of Ashland in various positions since 2006, according to her application.

A practicing doctor with Providence Medical Group, Bell stated he enjoyed his previous service as a commissioner from 2018 to 2022 and would like to serve again. Bell was also a member of the city of Ashland’s Climate Policy Commission from 2019 to 2021, according to his application for the parks position.

Other applicants are fresh faces for APRC and come to the position from a variety of backgrounds.

Priscila Franco retired from the U.S Forest Service, Shasta-Trinity National Forest after 32 years working for the federal government on issues of outdoor recreation management, according to her application. Franco has been an Ashland resident since 2012 and has volunteered on the city’s Forest Lands Commission.

L. Fernanda Mejia Arroyo, a family engagement and outreach supervisor with the Oregon Childhood Development coalition, wrote that APRC needs more diversity. Arroyo wrote while she is an avid mountain biker, she has no previous government or volunteer experience. Instead, she said she has “fresh ideas to bring to the table.” Arroyo moved to Ashland in 2010 from its sister city, Guanajuato, according to her application.

Micheal Stringer, sales and marketing for True South Solar, listed examples of service for outdoor recreation and ecological restoration work, including creating a recycling program in Sitka, Alaska, and working on water quality in Nashville, Tennessee. He has also served with the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy, Mt. Ashland Association and Americorps. Stringer wrote he moved his family to Ashland in 2017 after taking his children to Lithia Park and falling in love with the area. Now, he said he visits Ashland’s parks nearly every day, according to his application.

Daniel Weiner wrote in his application that, as a practicing physician, he has worked in tribal and community health throughout his career, leading to experience working with governments. Serving as an APRC commissioner would be an extension of the work he has spent his life on because “a vibrant and sustainable parks department is vital to our community’s health and wellness,” he wrote in his application.

Naiyabingi Budler, the sports and volunteer coordinator for the Ashland YMCA, said her desire to serve as a parks commissioner is “multi-faceted.” When she was a child, she watched her aunt serve as mayor of their small town. After reading meeting notes and plans on the APRC website, Budler said she wanted to contribute to the process of keeping Ashland’s parks and open spaces accessible.

During the Wednesday meeting, commissioners will discuss the candidates and are expected to vote to choose which applicant to recommend to the City Council for final approval.

Sub-committee assignments for commissioners will also be discussed.

The Sept. 6 meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the Ashland City Council chamber at 1175 E. Main St.  Proceedings are cablecast live on Channel 9 (or 180), streamed online at rvtv.sou.edu (RVTV Prime), and posted online at bit.ly/coavideos the day after the meeting.

Anyone wishing to offer testimony can submit it written to tara.kiewel@ashland.or.us. with “Public Testimony” in the subject line. To provide oral testimony, attend the meeting and fill out a speaker request card.

Email Ashland.news reporter Morgan Rothborne at morganr@ashland.news.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

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

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