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The Observer Paper 11/26/14

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In the contested races for the La Grande City Council, three contenders — Joel Goldstein, Bill Hays and Gary Lillard — have surfaced as the best candidates and are recommended by The Observer editorial board for election on Nov. 5.

JOEL GOLDSTEIN, a licensed clinical social worker and child family specialist, is facing Mary Ann Miesner, a long-time La Grande School Board member and former chairman, in the Position 6 race. Goldstein points to the accomplishments of the council during his four-year term, including seeing the fire station through to completion and expansion of the wastewater treatment plant. But he'd also like to see other things accomplished in the city. He lists the new public library and rejuvenating the downtown area as top goals.

Goldstein sees the need for La Grande's council to talk soon with Island City officials on expansion of each city's urban growth areas and other planning matters, and wants to take the steps to see that employers offering family-wage jobs are attracted to La Grande. Miesner has set a fine example of positive volunteer service to the community and would make an excellent councilor, but not this year at Goldstein's expense.

BILL HAYS has a sincere desire to be a city councilor. His eagerness to serve the public is evidenced by the city committees he's served on and the times in the past that he has run for the city council or county commission. Hays, who has a solid vocational background, including stints at Boeing and Precision Cast Parts and in construction, researches city issues well and is intelligent. He truly wants to represent all La Grande citizens.

Hays' interests span the gamut from creating more parking spaces downtown to senior transportation issues and monitoring changes in the state building code. It would be wrong for citizens to dismiss Hays as not viable because of his lifetime disability, cerebral palsy. He should be given the chance to show what he can do. His opponents for Position 3, Dan Stark and Tim Hoffnagle, appear eager and capable. But Hays' sincerity and persistence in wanting to serve on the council should finally pay off for him. La Grande voters should elect him Nov. 5.

GARY LILLARD, clinical supervisor for the Grande Ronde Child Center, is facing attorney Cory Larvik in the race for Position 6. Lillard has stepped up to the plate as a volunteer, serving on the city's planning commission for eight years, the past 4 as chairman. He sees that background as important to the council since state-mandated land-use laws are among the most controversial and complex issues faced by Oregon communities.

Lillard said he would come to the council with "no ax to grind," but with a strong commitment to making La Grande a better place to live. He'd like to see the kind of commercial development in the area that supports local business and would not be a detriment to the downtown. Other priorities are the creation of "better jobs to keep people here," improved streets and programs that help senior citizens and teenagers.

La Grande residents should be pleased that a strong group of candidates has surfaced for the city council. All of them would bring special skills and perspective to the city. But Goldstein, Hays and Lillard stand out as particularly well qualified and worthy of voters' support.


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