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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow LARVIK, LILLARD VIE FOR OPEN SEAT


Second in a series of three articles on La Grande City Council candidates in contested races. Saturday will feature candidates for Position 6.

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

An experienced city planning commission member is facing an attorney in private practice in the race for La Grande City Council Position 5.

Incumbent Doyle Slater, a retired professor from Eastern Oregon University, decided not to run for re-election, saying he had "some personal interests to pursue over the next few years."

Gary Lillard, who is facing attorney Cory Larvik in the Nov. 5 election, has been on the planning commission the past eight years, the last 4 as chairman.

"I have discovered a deep satisfaction in providing community service to the town in which I was born and raised," Lillard said.

He points to the building of the National Guard Armory, city swimming pool, skatepark and bowling center that has occurred while he has been on the planning commission.

"I am even prouder of helping the many citizens who have come forth with their own needs and projects," Lillard said.

His experience, Lillard said, should serve him well "as our state-mandated land-use laws are among the most complex and controversial issues faced by small rural communities."

If elected, Lillard said he can "hit the ground running."

"On the planning commission, I have tried to make the system work. It's important to listen to what other citizens have to say."

Lillard said he has experience in private business in such things as budgeting and labor contracts. He is interested in many issues including the downtown, senior citizens and youth.

Larvik, too, sees land-use planning decisions as "one of the most important functions of the council."

The council must make decisions within the bounds of the law to avoid having the decisions overturned on appeal, Larvik said.

"I feel I would lend some expertise to this area as I practice law in this field and am well-versed in land-use planning law," Larvik said.

Larvik said he is "a very strong supporter of the downtown" but not for growth or development that will change the small-town appeal of La Grande. "

"The county has a low unemployment rate, and we do not necessarily need any more jobs. What we do need are family-wage jobs to replace the jobs lost in the natural resource industry."

On the issue of a proposed Wal-Mart superstore, Larvik said, "There has been no demonstrated need whatsoever. Wal-Mart would be asking the city to give it a competitive advantage over the existing businesses. ... I would not vote for an urban growth boundary expansion."

If elected, Larvik said his most important job would be "to ask the hard questions that need to be asked before any of the tax money is spent. I will not rubber-stamp any requests for money."

Lillard, who is director of the Grande Ronde Child Center, earned his bachelor's degree from Eastern Oregon University and a master's from Arizona State.

Larvik earned a bachelor's degree from Eastern Oregon University and a law

degree from the University of Oregon.

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