October 09, 2002 11:00 pm

There are three contested races, and three council members, counting the mayor, are unopposed for election to the La Grande City Council in the Nov. 5 election.

Ballots are scheduled to be mailed out Oct. 17.

The candidates in contested races are:

Position 3: Dan Stark, Tim Hoffnagle and Bill Hays.

Position 5: Cory Larvik and Gary Lillard.

Position 6: Joel Goldstein and Mary Ann Miesner.

The unopposed incumbents are Mayor Colleen Johnson, an economics professor at Eastern Oregon University; councilor Dana Wright, Union County undersheriff; and Steve Clements, a computer technician at EOU. John Bozarth is not up for election this year.

Newly elected councilors will begin their terms in January. Ballots are expected to be mailed to voters Oct. 17.

In today's Observer: Position 3 races. Friday: Position 5, and Saturday: Position 6.

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Three candidates are vying for Position 3 on the La Grande City Council in the Nov. 5 election.

Dan Stark, Tim Hoffnagle and Bill Hays are seeking the post previously held by Doug Winn and filled for the past several months by Art Rhodes.

Rhodes said when he was appointed that he would not run for the four-year position. Winn resigned in March after moving outside the city.

Stark was a candidate to be appointed when the position became vacant, but the city council felt that appointing him then would give him an unfair advantage as an incumbent over anyone else who chose to run this fall.

Stark has plenty of experience in governmental affairs. He has been on the city's budget committee since 1997 and is chairman. He has served on the Parking and Traffic Safety Commission. He served on the Enterprise City Council in 1983-84. He was planning director for Ontario in 1984-84 and served three years as economic development coordinator for the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe in Auburn, Wash.

Stark is the director of the Oregon Center for Rural Policy, Research and Services.

Hoffnagle is a research biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. He moved to La Grande from northern Arizona in 2000.

Hays, who is retired, has served on several city commissions, including the Community Landscape and Forestry Commission and the Parking and Traffic Safety Commission.

Stark sees problems ahead as the city tries to find the money to provide the services that

La Grande residents require. He would approach those and other issues with more than 25 years of experience in economic and community development and in dealing with land-use and development regulations.

"The cost of city operations is rising at a rate which is faster than the increase in general revenue," Stark said. "The city will soon be asking its residents which programs and services they want to keep and which they want to eliminate."

Stark said city government "needs to find ways to be highly efficient and continue to work well with the county and the school board."

Hoffnagle, too, stressed "the continued collaboration with the county and with Eastern Oregon University."

La Grande will grow, he said, "but I want to see us grow intelligently. We need good paying jobs."

The city's fiscal responsibility "is a big issue," said Hoffnagle, who is seeking his first elective office.

He is interested in seeing the city improve sidewalks throughout the city "at least on one side of the street," and feels residents within the urban growth boundary "who receive services from the city should pay for them."

Hoffnagle said he'd like to see some hard numbers on the issue of a proposed Wal-Mart superstore in La Grande "to figure out the benefits to the city." He'd like to see more varied recreation opportunities available in town, he said.

He wants the city to continue fighting to get train whistle blowing stopped.

Hays — who has run for the city council twice, for county commissioner three times, and for the state Senate — said his background in architecture and engineering has helped design plans for several public buildings.

He expects Wal-Mart might come up as a land-use issue but the area is not likely to see a superstore for several years.

Stark has a bachelor's degree from Luther College in Iowa and a master's from Washington State. Hoffnagle's earned a bachelors degree from the University of Idaho, a master's from Murray (Ky.) State and a Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota. Hays graduated from Benson Tech high school in Portland and attended Portland Community College's supervisory development program.