Issues in the races for Position 2 and Position 4 on the City Council coalesce on a proposed new site for the fire station and the potential purchase of the former Gearhart Elementary School.
Emergency preparedness, investing in the area and preserving Gearhart’s character are also important to the candidates.
City Councilor Reita Fackerell, who was appointed to Position 2 in December 2018, will face opposition from Bob Shortman.
City Councilor Dan Jesse, who was first elected in Position 4 in 2012, is running for a third term. He faces challenger Jack Zimmerman.
Fackerell seeks a sustainable future in the areas of finance and livability. Improving, maintaining and adding new park space is another priority.
“I feel that Gearhart is special to those who live here,” Fackerell said. “There is an ambiance and history that we all embrace. I hope to continue that heritage and encourage the kindness we feel to all who call Gearhart their home.”
Fackerell is on the board of the South County Food Bank. She served as director of the Seaside Public Library until her retirement in 2012.
She said her most important priority is following the comprehensive plan to keep the city’s low density, semi-rural character in harmony with the sensitive coastal environment. “This is what makes Gearhart special,” Fackerell said.
“My proudest accomplishment as a councilor did not occur during a council meeting, a budget meeting, or as a member of the dune vegetation committee,” Fackerell said. “It happened walking around Gearhart and listening to those who had issues with Gearhart. I have listened to those concerned with Little Beach issues, riparian violations, and budget concerns. Every person I talked to has valid points and I was glad I listened.
“I really believe that we must be aware of all sides of issues by listening and encouraging our citizens to work together for a better community.”
Shortman said he believes the council is not pursuing the Gearhart school property vigorously enough. He also wants a review of sites besides High Point for a fire station.
“My reason for running is I believe the council is not pursuing the school property and are already funding explorations into High Point,” Shortman said.
Shortman is a two-time mayoral candidate who has served on the budget committee. He retired from his contracting business and manages family properties.
He said he will offer a business perspective and sees a need for better communication and transparency between the council and citizens.
“Gearhart is dear to our hearts and a wonderful place to live,” Shortman said. “I hope to preserve and make it a better place for future generations.”
Jesse said he hopes to bring the new fire station proposal before voters.
“I am not sure how the vote will go, but I believe the voters should have a choice as to whether or not they feel we should upgrade our fire station and its location,” he said.
Jesse’s career in public service began with the Seaside Civic and Convention Center and the Seaside Improvement Commission before he and his wife, Julie, moved to Gearhart, where he served on the Planning Commission before being elected to City Council.
Jesse is president of Daniel Jesse Construction Inc. and is trained as a commercial photographer.
“Emergency preparedness is my first and most important priority,” Jesse said. “I ran originally eight years ago on this platform, well before the idea was mainstream in our area.”
He pointed to progress with Clatsop County’s Community Emergency Response Team, a city storage cache, ham radio repeater and residents who prioritize preparedness.
“Eight years ago, I believe people gave little thought to preparedness at a personal level, or at a city level,” he said. “I believe this mindset has changed greatly. With every person who has embraced the idea, it creates that much more talk about the subject, giving others that little nudge that propels more people to embrace the concept. I believe we are both individually and as a community much better off for the efforts of the many that have made preparedness a priority.”
Jesse said it is important to have someone on the council who looks at issues from the point of view of those who live east of Neacoxie Creek.
“I believe the priorities of the working people who live on the east side of town are a very different viewpoint than the people who are predominantly retired who live west of the Neacoxie,” he said.
Zimmerman said he hopes the City Council won’t pursue the High Point location for a new fire station.
In his 2018 run for council, he sought a refocus of the existing facilities, creating a repurposed fire station meeting modern-day standards for a rural volunteer fire department.
Zimmerman worked in the energy industry in a series of managerial positions before retiring. He has owned and developed property in western Colorado.
Zimmerman said he sought accountability from the council from current issues to city finances.
“The ability to effectively communicate to our Gearhart residents is boundless and it would be my goal to persuade council that formal messaging at all levels of operation is not an elective but an obligation — an obligation required to establish and keep City Council’s credibility,” Zimmerman said.
He said Jesse and other councilors “are fearful of taking on hard and independent positions due to the perceived need to protect their business and long time relationships.”
Jesse and other councilors “place an inordinate amount of dependency” on Gearhart City Administrator Chad Sweet, he said.