Salem city hall (Salem Reporter)
The Salem City Council will get to pick from a litter of at least eight people to replace Sally Cook later this month and give a new face about 12 months to help the city craft its policies.
Warren Bednarz, Vanessa Nordyke, John R. Brown, Nancy MacMorris-Adix, Jerod Martin, Reid Sund, Curtis Bartley and Narcissa Bartley applied with the city of Salem as of Thursday evening to serve out Cook’s term.
Whomever the council appoints will serve until Dec. 31, 2020, when Cook’s term would have ended. Cook officially resigned Oct. 1 to devote more time to her children after her husband’s sudden death earlier this year.
The city council may interview the candidates and is expected to make an appointment Oct. 28, according to the applications. Applications close 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 8.
Still, voters will ultimately decide in 2020 who will represent Ward 7, which encompasses neighborhoods in southwest Salem, for the next four years.
Salem Reporter has linked below to each application for the open seat.
Some candidates’ names may sound familiar because of previous service in public office.
Warren Bednarz is the very man Cook unseated in 2016. He had served four years up until the defeat.
Bednarz wrote on his application that he enjoys policymaking as a way of helping his community. He said the city’s biggest concern — besides city planning and its financial future — should be addressing homelessness.
“Homelessness comes to the top of the list. Not just helping those who are homeless, but also helping the community deal with the impact that homeless have on our community’s livability,” he wrote.
Nancy MacMorris-Adix previously won a seat on the Salem-Keizer School Board. She served seven years, until 2017 when she chose not to run again. But her tenure taught her “an enormous amount about school success, school budgets, and barriers to effective instruction for our children,” she said in her application.
“I would look forward to learning the many aspects of city government such as zoning, development, factors that impact livability,” she wrote.
MacMorris-Adix told Salem Reporter she may withdraw her application, however, because of her busy schedule.
Vanessa Nordyke is a senior assistant attorney general at the Oregon Department of Justice who has served on several Salem boards, including her current spot on a citizen committee that helps craft Salem’s budget. Nordyke listed as her top priority planning Salem's growth.
“Salem is expected to have another 60,000 people moving here by 2035,” she wrote. “How we grow matters, and decisions made by council in the next several years will impact city growth.”
Reid Sund, director of finance at Salem Health, also served on that citizen budget committee with Nordyke. He is the only person so far who also has filed to be run for election to Cook’s seat.
Sund said his biggest priorities would be to “ensure that our growing city has the services it needs” and addressing homelessness. He said people need to be treated with dignity, and said downtown businesses need to be a priority.
“This issue is complicated and I believe through collaboration between the community, service providers, and businesses, we will develop a meaningful solution,” he said.
Other applicants’ resumes may not be as flush with public service, but they wrote in their applications they would serve the city well.
Jerod Martin, owner of soil company Better Urban Dirt, said he has “seen how cities and businesses can work together as a community to help everyone in the city thrive together.” He said housing is Salem’s most pressing issue.
“I don’t know how to fix the problem, but I think we as a community should be working hard to come up with a plan to help the effort to create housing,” Martin wrote.
On his application, John R. Brown listed as his experience his current work advocating for abused children as a count appointed special advocate in Marion County. When asked what he felt to be the most pressing issue facing Salem, he wrote: “Salem must rapidly increase numbers and distribution of (first) responders while also engendering a spirit of positivity and support among the people of the neighborhoods.”
Curtis and Narcissa Bartley, who are married, both applied for the open seat, as well.
Narcissa Bartley, an interior designer, cited her knowledge of the city’s permitting processes, zoning laws, fire codes and a familiarity with traffic impact analyses as her skills. She wrote that she’d champion affordable housing and city services, as well as access to high-speed internet.
“I look forward to getting to know more people in our community and listening to their ideas on how to improve our city,” she said.
Curtis Bartley, a Salem-Keizer School District employee, cited skills with data analysis to help craft policies for city planning.
“Our world is full of data, the trick is coming up with systems to discover trends and make evidence-based decision making that can have the highest positive impact and leverage for our community,” he said. “My experience with city planning is limited, but I’m comfortable seeking out and utilizing community resources.”
He also stated affordable housing and utilities, access to high-speed internet, and disaster preparedness are the biggest issues Salem currently faces.
See the candidates' applications:
Have a tip? Contact reporter Troy Brynelson at 503-575-9930, firstname.lastname@example.org or @TroyWB.