Alyssa Sutton

Jim Whitbeck, owner of Blue Mountain Outfitters, is running unopposed for La Grande City Council Position 6.

Whitbeck said his primary purpose for running for a city council position is to give back to the community.

“I feel I bring something important to the table with my background, position in the community as a small business owner and record of community service,” Whitbeck said in an email. “La Grande has been great to me, and I want to do everything I can to contribute to its continued success.”

Whitbeck said he doesn’t have any specific agendas he would pursue if he were elected to city council, stating, “I am here to serve and learn first.”

However, he does have a vision for the “health of La Grande.”

There are several things he would like to see happen: “Improving alignment for what our economic development goals should be, supporting existing businesses and driving connections between downtown, Eastern Oregon University, our larger employers and the rest of the community. I also want to do what I can to encourage cultural diversity in the community.”

Before coming to La Grande, Whitbeck, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon with a major in philosophy and minors in business and journalism, worked in management consulting and corporate human capital management.

“I started my business, Blue Mountain Outfitters, in June of 2014 and graduated from a master’s program with Portland State in supply chain management in June 2015,” Whitbeck said.

Whitbeck has served on the La Grande Main Street Board and Eastern Oregon Film Festival Board and is currently serving on the EOU Small Business Development Center Board –– of which Rep. Greg Smith (R-Heppner) is the director –– the Union County Tourism Board and the La Grande Planning Commission.

Additionally, Whitbeck has been acting as a facilitator for the Union County Leadership meetings. The monthly meetings, which are a networking tool for the mayors of Union County, began at the end of last year.

Whitbeck said he enjoys backcountry skiing and other outdoor activities. He is married to Naomi Tuinstra, who is a College of Education faculty member at EOU.

The La Grande City Council filing deadline was March 1. The city council election will take place in November.