LA GRANDE — Dr. David Glabe was inspired to run for La Grande city council's Position 3 because he wants to have the opportunity to speak out.
"I believe I can provide a valuable and unique voice for family- and business-friendly local government policy," said Glabe, an optometric physician and small business owner.
Glabe and his wife, Erin, have five children and have lived in La Grande for the past seven years.
"I hope to represent the citizens of La Grande with pro-family and pro-business values in administering local government affairs and introduce new ideas for healthy economic development for improving our community," Glabe said.
He said he is committed to confronting La Grande’s "severe" economic challenges.
"According to census data, 22% of our citizens live in poverty, and almost one in four don't have internet access in their homes," he said. "Too many of our youth graduate without pursuing additional training or education, and those who do often can't find local jobs. Families and professionals wanting to relocate here are faced with a dearth of available or affordable housing."
The candidate said the city's policies have proven ineffective as La Grande's economy and growth over the past decade remain nearly stagnant, and municipal regulations that restrict development need to be reexamined. He also said he would like to see a family science center in La Grande to provide educational experiences.
Glabe is seeking to replace Corrine Dutto, who is completing her first four-year term on the city council. She said she would work hard during a second term to help La Grande maintain its quality of life. She said it is critical to maintain the city’s services, from the public library and pool to fire and police departments.
"All of them are essential," Dutto said.
She also said she wants to have the council focus on addressing housing issues. Dutto said having a good availability of affordable housing is critical to drawing businesses that provide living wage jobs.
"Businesses will not come here unless they have affordable housing for their workforce," Dutto said.
The councilor said she would be willing to have the council take steps like changing building codes to make it easier to build.
Dutto also is interested in working to help the city continue improving access for those with mobility issues, including creating more curb cuts for wheelchair access. Dutto said she has an enhanced appreciation of this need because she is a physical therapist.
Dutto touted the council's achievement of revamping the allocation of Urban Renewal Agency money for new business. Due to new rules, she said, the URA funding is clearer and more objective.
She also said she is delighted with the installation of the new sidewalk at Central Elementary School. The sidewalk runs from Second Street and H Avenue west to Sunset Drive. Dutto, who worked hard for the sidewalk, said it makes it safer for children to walk to and from Central and for parents to pick up and drop off their children.
While La Grande City Council positions are nonpartisan, Dutto, fellow councilor Nicole Howard and Mayor Steve Clements were the subjects of a recent accusatory rant on the website for the Union County Republican Central Committee based on their registration as Democrats. Dutto said political partisanship does not influence her when it comes to making decisions on the council.
"I do not vote on issues based on my personal preferences or on what any group tells me how to vote," she said. "I try to view each issue before the council objectively and vote according to what I think is best for the community. I think it is important to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars. I do my research on each issue and listen to public input. I use data to support my choices, not emotion."
However, she continued, "impassioned public input" has altered how she voted, which she said shows she is following the will of the people.
"I try to be fair and transparent in my decisions," Dutto said.
Glabe said he has concerns about the recent Republican involvement in La Grande city council races, but he does believe information on the party affiliation of a candidate could be beneficial to voters because it gives voters some information about the candidate.
"I firmly believe that respectful and civil discourse regarding issues and values is the most favorable way for voters to determine who will represent them best," Glabe said. "I do support the utilization of endorsements by individuals, organizations and even political parties as a way of informing voters of personal beliefs and political views, which are relevant to all levels of government. This helps provide valuable information to voters who wish to be represented by people who share similar values and philosophies, even in a nonpartisan local election."