More change than expected is coming to the Lebanon City Council.
Newly elected councilor Wayne Dykstra will be sworn in at 4 p.m. Wednesday. He won election to the Ward 1 seat which had previously been held by Robert Furlow, who did not seek another term in office.
The swearing-in ceremony will also include Mayor Paul Aziz, who was elected to a fifth two-year term and councilors Jason Bolen and Rebecca Grizzle, who were both unopposed in their bids to remain on the council.
During the regular public session which will follow at 6 p.m., the council will formally receive the resignation of councilor Karin Stauder. This resignation is tentatively effective March 10.
Stauder, who was elected to represent Ward 2 in November 2018, is moving and will not be able to complete her term.
In a phone interview, Stauder said this was not an easy decision to make.
“It really was a struggle. I really wanted to fulfill my four years. I ran with that idea in mind to do my full term. But the timing, it’s the right time for us and I had to look out for our best interests. It wasn’t an easy decision,” Stauder said.
Stauder said she and her partner, Mary Gentle, are moving to central Oregon. Gentle has already made the move and Stauder will commute back and forth for the next couple of months while she completes the sale of their home and other matters.
Stauder said she was apprehensive when she began on the Lebanon council because she had no previous experience of this kind. She thanked the mayor and her fellow councilors, as well as the city staff, for making her feel welcome throughout her term.
“It has been absolutely amazing. I feel very honored that the citizens trusted me and voted me in. I have really enjoyed working with the council. It’s a great group of people. We may not always agree on everything, but I believe we are all very respectful and listen to each other and make a decision at the end of that. It just feels very cohesive. It was a very, very positive experience for me,” Stauder said.
Stauder, who is retired from the Corvallis Police Department, said she will continue to work part-time at the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training in Salem. Stauder believes her experience in public safety was one of her strengths as a councilor.
“I really believe that my perspective as a police officer allowed me to see things a little differently,” Stauder said.
Other areas required more work to fill in gaps in her knowledge, she said. In particular, Stauder pointed to planning and land use as a subject where she had a lot to learn. She was surprised by the rule-based nature of the development process, and how little discretion the city has in approving or rejecting applications.
During Stauder’s first year in office, former City Manager Gary Marks resigned. That occurred in late August 2019 and the city has not yet found a permanent replacement.
Ron Whitlatch, the engineering services director, filled in as interim city manager for a year before Nancy Brewer was hired to fill that post this fall.
Stauder strongly supported hiring Brewer for this position and feels this is one of the most important actions she was part of during her time in office.
“I feel like she is going to do some amazing things for Lebanon,” Stauder said, adding that she still holds out hope that Brewer will accept the city manager position on a permanent basis. “I just knew, she is the one. She is super intelligent, her experience in finance. She was interim city manager for us in Corvallis. She supports the police. I really feel like she cares about Lebanon and wants the best for Lebanon.”
During Wednesday’s session the council will begin the process of publicizing the Ward 2 vacancy. The council will appoint a candidate to fill that position until the general election in November 2022.
Stauder said she is encouraging her neighbor, David McClain, to apply for the position. McClain is currently a member of the city’s planning commission.
“I respect him as a neighbor. He’s really level-headed and I think he would be a good fit for council. It will be open, people can apply, and it will be up to the council to decide,” Stauder said.