Decision 2012: City council races heat up in Enterprise

By Observer Upload October 17, 2012 01:26 pm

The 2012 elections are less than three weeks away and the only contested city council races this year are in Enterprise.

Mayor Steve Lear is running for another two-year term because, he said, he’s already done the job and understands the objectives at hand.

“I want to guard the financial hurdles while maintaining a high level of service without putting the burden back on the citizens,” said Lear. “I want to make us more efficient.”

Lear said he sees cities going broke and doesn’t want that to happen in Enterprise. “We need to make certain we pay our bills.”

Lear has been a proponent of using biomass to heat city buildings and is working with Wallowa Resources to identify the feasibility. He also envisions using micro-hydroelectric power on water routes to help manage and run the water and sewer plant.

He said he’d like to get more use out of the soccer and baseball fields, the golf course, and the OK Theatre and he would like to better use the city’s portion of the lodging tax to grow business.

Lear said in his two years as mayor he and the council negotiated a brand new contract with public works. Restructuring the sewer rates was another “huge time burner” he said, but had to be tackled.

Lear said, “I really want to be mayor. It takes energy, vision, and commitment and I have all three.”

City council veteran Margie Shaw is challenging Lear in the upcoming mayoral race. Shaw has served 10 years and is ready to make the leap.

Shaw has a long history of volunteerism in Enterprise, is the vice-president of the Greater Enterprise Main Streets program and is on the merchant’s association.

Shaw said she has attended many conferences hosted by the League of Oregon Cities, more than any other councilor.

“It’s important to meet with people from around the state who have the same problems we have,” said Shaw.

Shaw acknowledged that re-working the city’s sewer rates have made some people angry, but it was crucial for the city.

“We have to move forward. On the whole it will come out okay.”

For the water treatment plant and for the rest of the city’s infrastructure, Shaw said grants are becoming harder to come by and the city needs to set aside money for repairs and that will come out of the rates.

“Citizens are going to have to buckle up and pay,” said Shaw.

Shaw said times are tough and they are going to get tougher and wants to see more volunteer input from the community.

“Seven people can’t do it alone, let’s work together. I want to see our city thrive,” said Shaw.

One Enterprise city council seat is up for grabs, a position left empty with Doug Terry’s death this summer. In August the council voted to appoint Sam Summers to finish the term that ends Dec. 31.

Though Summers had already decided to run, he said the opportunity to finish Terry’s term is helping him get up to speed on the issues.

Summers has served on the merchant’s association and the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce and has owned the building where he has run an internet company and a U.S. Cellular outlet since 1996.

In the last 16 years he has seen a lot of buildings close. He’d like to see that trend reversed.

“Nothing is going to change overnight; it takes time to plan it out,” said Summers.

He said one of his goals is for the city to install time-keeping software.

“An accurate accounting of time will make budgeting a lot easier,” said Summers.

 Bill Coffin is challenging Summers for the city council seat. He said people in Enterprise have prompted him to run.

Coffin first came to Enterprise with his family in 1941 and helped them run the Wallowa County Chieftain.

He also ran one of his father’s papers in Okanagan and a bi-weekly in California.

Outside of the newspaper business, Coffin has been a commercial fisherman, managed a Budweiser distributorship, and worked for Byrnes Oil.

In Okanagan he served as president of the chamber of commerce and on the city planning commission.

“I have lived in Enterprise almost my entire adult life and knowing the people of Enterprise I have a pretty good feel for what their wants and wishes are,” said Coffin.