Mount Shasta to elect three new city council members
With three incumbents choosing not to seek reelection in November, Mount Shasta's five member City Council will change dramatically after the Nov. 6 election.
Candidates are: bar manager John Redmond; retired grocery clerk Brad Eslinger; healthcare consultant Geoff Harkness; retired Naval officer and Forest Service employee Mike Burns; and new business developer Jeffrey Collings.
All five candidates agree that stimulating the local economy and required upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility are the most pressing issues facing Mount Shasta today.
The three top vote-getters will replace Russ Porterfield, Michael Murray and Ned Boss on the council, joining Tim Stearns and Tom Moore, whose terms end in 2014.
Below (in the order they filed their paperwork with County Clerk Colleen Setzer) is a little about each candidate's background, their concerns, and ways they believe they'd be of service to the city as council members.
Redmond moved to Mount Shasta 10 years ago and is the bar manager at The Goat. He sees his position in the heart of the community giving him the ability to hear concerns directly from the public
"My approachability is one of my main strengths," said Redmond, who also describes himself as patient and able to work with a variety of personalities.
The 38 year old Redmond said he hopes to begin a "youth movement" to get more people ages 35 to 50 involved with local politics.
He said he used to put the televised city council meetings on at The Goat's bar to stay up to date with local politics. He recently changed his work schedule so he will be off on Monday nights and free to attend council meetings.
"I don't think it's good to have an entire council made up of retirees, and I don't think it should be all 20-somethings, either... I think diversity is important," Redmond said, adding that he's excited to get involved.
As a council member, Redmond said he'd like to encourage development of the local economy to include new industries, including technology-based businesses.
He pointed to last winter, when there was no snow until late in the season, leading to a shortage of tourists which hurt the local economy.
"We can be a tourist town with a good economy," Redmond said. "That way, we're not all sitting around praying for tourist season."
He said he would like to see the city update its infrastructure, including the wastewater treatment plant and also the city's water pipes and connections, most of which are 50 years old.
"I think we need to find grants and make it happen... I moved here to live here, and I don't want to see the town crumble around me and know I didn't do anything to get involved," Redmond said.
For more about Redmond and his policies, visit votejohnredmond.com
Eslinger has lived in Siskiyou County since 1966 and in Mount Shasta City for 21 years. He spent 35 years in the grocery store business, is married and has one daughter.
Eslinger said he has no specific objectives to accomplish if elected to the council, other than to be involved in the decision making process.
"I'm retired, and I have the time," Eslinger said. This will give him the ability to "research, in detail, all issues pertaining to the city."
Eslinger currently sits on two boards: he's the secretary of the board at Choices and serves as the secretary/treasurer of the Mt. Shasta Gun Club.
Eslinger said he has been encouraged by many in the community to run for city council and has been attending city council meetings since February.
His favorite thing about Mount Shasta is the population and the small town environment.
Eslinger said he believes the most pressing issues facing the city are necessary improvements to the wastewater treatment plant.
"I believe our current president and his administration are detrimental to the well being of this nation," Eslinger said. "I believe that many radical green environmental groups have policies that are not beneficial to the citizens of Mount Shasta."
Eslinger said he opposes removal of the Klamath dams, opposes placing a cell tower on near Butte St. and Ski Village Dr. and believes that "state and federal spending is out of control and needs to be radically reduced."
"I believe in traditional biblical family values," Eslinger said. "I stand in opposition to Agenda 21. As a member of the NRA and California Rifle and Pistol Association, I am a strong supporter of our second amendment rights."
Harkness, a healthcare consultant with Truven Health Analytics, has lived in Mount Shasta nearly 10 years.
As a healthcare consultant, Harkness said he has a strong background in policy and finance.
"I'm also a good listener and very open to other's views, beliefs and perspectives," Harkness said.
He said issues that are most pressing to the city at this time include "keeping financially solvent during the national recession, maintaining the quality of public services and promoting economic growth and a thriving downtown."
Though Harkness said he can't point to one or two specific objectives he'd like to accomplish if elected, "I would feel my time in office was well spent if we can build a foundation which promotes economic growth," he said.
Because nearly half of the city's General Fund income comes from sales taxes and Transient Occupancy Taxes, Harkness believes it is important to "promote the unique characteristics of Shasta, bringing tourists to the area."
Harkness grew up in the Rogue Valley and is a UC Davis graduate. He has a daughter and son who both attend Mount Shasta Elementary schools. He is active as a parent representative on the School Site Council and as a school volunteer and soccer coach.
Harkness spent four years on the Mt. Shasta Nordic Ski Organization board and served as a board member of the former Alpine Clinic during the transition to Mercy Mt. Shasta. He is also a Mount Shasta Rotary Club member.
"It is a busy time in my life with two young kids and a demanding job. But I feel it is important to give back to the community. With three open seats, this felt like a natural place to put my energies," Harkness said.
"Undoubtedly there will be challenging issues to address on the council," he said. "Some, like enhancements to the sewage plant, are foreseeable, and other issues are not. But in general, I really look forward to working with community, the city employees and fellow council members to find the best and most appropriate solutions for the community."
Burns has lived in Siskiyou County since the mid-70s, and in Mount Shasta since 1983. He's a retired officer with the US Navy Reserve and the United States Forest Service. He's currently the line coach for the Mount Shasta High School Bears varsity football team.
Burns said he'd like to bring his leadership experience and familiarity with budgets, contracts, and union negotiations to the city council. He also has experience working with people who have a wide variety of views and concerns.
"I've always viewed myself as a person with a listening ear who can give total concentration to the person I'm talking with, take their views in and be sensitive, then come through with a reasonable solution," Burns said.
He acknowledges "you can't make everyone happy all the time... You have to strive to do what's best for the greater good, the greater whole."
"I've seen trends happening with influence from folks from other areas," Burns said. "I see some discord, some friction points in the community," though he believes there are solutions to every problem that incorporate ideas from all corners of the spectrum.
In a cross-section of Mount Shasta's population, Burns sees new arrivals who have come to live in Mount Shasta because of the alpine setting, retirees who came to Mount Shasta because of its slower, quieter pace, and native residents.
"I think there's a happy medium where all three groups can come together to decide on future development and growth," said Burns.
One of Burns' biggest concerns is bringing economic growth to the city so Mount Shasta doesn't have to depend solely on tourism.
"We're lucky we have the I-5 corridor and the Ski Park," Burns said, "But I'm not so sure that's enough. We need something to keep young people here... something to bring people back, because we're losing generations."
Burns has been married for 28 years, and has three grown children, one who still lives in Mount Shasta.
At the top of the list of important issues currently facing the city, Burns pointed to the upcoming water treatment plant improvements, as well as economic growth and ways to utilize city assets, such as the Roseburg Property.
Collings has lived in Mount Shasta for 13 years and is in new business development. He has been married for 27 years and has two daughters who both attended Mount Shasta schools.
Moving here from Atlanta, Ga., Collings said he'd never lived in a small town, but soon realized "this is how life should be."
Keeping a balance between growth and maintaining that small town feeling is something Collings feels is important for city councilors to consider in the coming years.
"The city needs to grow, but we don't want it clogged, traffic-ridden and smoggy," Collings said. "We want to move forward while preserving small town life... but there do need to be more opportunities for young people."
Collings' experience with starting new businesses has given him several skills that he believes would be an asset to the city council, including communication, group problem solving and conflict solution.
"I know how to get along with people, and how to get things done," Collings said. "You have to get past who is right and who's wrong, into what's missing, what's possible, and what's going to work."
Collings said with Mount Shasta's diversity, using common sense, being able to see both sides of every issue and working to find solutions acceptable to everyone are important skills for councilors to have.
In addition to his communication and problem solving skills, Collings points to his experience with wastewater treatment plants – knowledge that he sees as an asset to Mount Shasta, particularly now, when tighter regulations are forcing the city to make expensive upgrades to the system.
"I'm no engineer, but I'm not starting with an empty slate," he said.
Collings said he was asked by several people to consider running for city council and took his time making his decision. Now he's enthusiastic and ready to get to work.