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Oakridge candidate forum hits all the right notes

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The candidates for the open positions for Oakridge’s city council and mayor appear eager to begin answering their voters questions Saturday evening. L-R: Dirk “Poncho” Tarman, Jan Hooker, Don Grant, Bryan Cutchen, and Michelle Coker. Absent are Christine Hollett and Paul Forcum. Herald photo

By GEORGE CUSTER/Editor  —  There was a good crowd at the Oakridge candidate forum held Saturday evening in the Oakridge High School auditorium.

The event was sponsored by the Oakridge Westfir Area Chamber of Commerce. Things were  kicked off with welcoming remarks from Michelle Emmons-Mcpharlin. Ms. Emmons-Mcpharlin is the current vice-president of the Area Chamber of Commerce. After her opening remarks, she introduced Ms. Charlice Kaylor as the moderator. Ms. Kaylor is the President of the League of Women Voters’ of Lane County. The LWV was asked to assist in organizing of the forum.

Michelle Emmons-Mcpharlin introduces the evenings moderator, Charlice Kaylor.School auditorium. The event went like clockwork as Michelle Emmons-Mcpharlin took the microphone to announce the start. Both the citizens in attendance and the candidates were schooled on how the evening would proceed. Herald photo

Current mayor, Christina Hollett, and Paul Forcum, who is running for one of the council seats, were not in attendance for the forum. Rick Zylstra, who had been on the ticket to run for a council seat, has withdrawn from running. He is now employed by the City as the Community  Services Director.

It took people to set the event into motion

Questions for the candidates were remitted to the Oakridge/Westfir Chamber of Commerce over the last two weeks. All candidates would be asked to answer each question as read by the moderator, Charlcie Kaylor. Ms. Kaylor would read the question aloud for the audience. Each candidate would then take their turn as the first to answer. No rebuttals, no debating.

Charlice Kaylor, President of the League of Women Voters of Lane County and moderator for the event, addresses the candidate forum. Herald photo

The smallest of technicalities arose when the microphone that had been designated for the candidates was on too short of a cord to reach them all. The candidates and Ms. Kaylor quickly adjusted to sharing microphones and continued to roll through the small glitch.

Peggy Marconi kept track of the gathered questions with help from Lynda Kamerrer, who gathered additional questions from the audience. Susan Hardy and Deb Borton were the timekeepers. A one-minute card was held aloft to remind each speaker that they were approaching their speaking limit. There were no time overruns. There were, however, several instances where a speaker would agree with other speakers on the same questions. Civility was at it’s utmost throughout the event.

The woman “behind the curtain”, so to speak, was Guen DiGioia, who handled the sound and recordings from a booth mostly behind the audience. The audio got better as each candidate got used to holding the microphone.

The candidates shook of any early jitters

If the candidate were nervous, it generally didn’t show. Though several commented that they had never done anything like this before and were exceptionally nervous. Between the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Kaylor’s calming demeanor, and the friendly atmosphere of the crowd in attendance, the candidates seemed to settle down quickly and spoke freely.

The questions were tough but fair

The twenty questions given to the candidates ran the gamut from problems with the city’s aging sewer system, to concerns that a surge in growth of Oakridge could cause increases in taxes. All were good questions. The questions submitted by the public were questions that would seemingly pop up during any conversation about Oakridge’s future.

After the last question was answered by all the candidates, each were asked to give their final remarks. Ms. Emmons-Mcpharlin thanked everyone, both the candidates and the citizens for attending the forum.

The entire Candidate Forum is available for viewing on the Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page. An edited version will soon be available on YouTube.



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