Big breaking local political news today from the Salem Reporter's Troy Brynelson: "Kaser won't seek second term on Salem City Council."
Citing major changes with both her family and her career, Councilor Cara Kaser told Salem Reporter on Saturday morning she won’t seek a second term as one of the city’s nine policymakers. Her term expires Dec. 31, 2020.
“Serving my community these past three years as a city councilor has been both one of the most important duties I have ever taken on and one of the most important honors I have ever been afforded,” she said. “Additionally, it is one of the most demanding and rewarding volunteer positions I have ever encountered.”
Her decision means there will be at least three new councilors elected next year. Brad Nanke, 60, won’t seek re-election after nearly two decades representing southeast Salem. Meanwhile, Vanessa Nordyke represents southwest Salem on an interim basis after Sally Cook resigned in September.
Prospective councilors have until March 10 to collect signatures and file to run for office. The primary is slated for May 19.
...Kaser plans to endorse Virginia Stapleton to replace her. Kaser said Stapleton would help steer the city on issues related to homelessness, fixing sidewalks, planning for a third bridge and planning for climate change.
I suspect that Kaser's decision not to seek a second term will encourage the Chamber of Commerce and others who detest the current 6-3 progressive majority on the City Council to put more effort and money into the races for the three open positions.
(Though Nordyke is currently a council member, she was appointed by the council after Cook resigned, so she hasn't been elected yet.)
Some Googling revealed that Virginia Stapleton, who Kaser is endorsing to replace her, is a member of the Budget Committee for the Salem-Keizer School District. Otherwise, I don't know anything about her background. Almost certainly she shares Kaser's views on key local policies.
Kaser, along with Cook and Nanke, deserve a lot of thanks for their service on the City Council -- especially since the Mayor and eight councilors aren't paid for the large amount of time they put in.
While this would be controversial, it's past time for the council to seriously consider budgeting money for a monthly stipend that would enable more people to run for Mayor or a council seat. Last year Councilor Tom Andersen proposed this, as noted in another Salem Reporter story, "Councilor proposes paying Salem's elected officials monthly stipend."
Many other Oregon cities pay elected officials a stipend, but not Salem. Councilor Tom Andersen believes that could be a problem.
Andersen last week filed a motion to give eight councilors and the mayor a monthly stipend as demands grow for Salem’s elected officials. The amounts and how they would be paid are up for discussion, but the motion does suggest councilors should not be paid more than $2,000 per month, and the mayor $2,500 per month.
...“The only people you have on council are either retired, independently wealthy, working for government agencies … or people who are self-employed, like myself,” said Andersen, noting government agencies offer flexible hours.
Andersen, a self-employed employment lawyer, said the city is hampered in getting a more representative council.