Candidate says council should listen to people

Ronald D. White is running for Sweet Home City Council because the current council and city staff members are not listening to the people who elected them.

“What really got me interested in it is talking to people, and I go to the council meetings,” White said. “This council has forgotten who elected them. They’re not listening to the people. They make they’re own decisions. I think that’s wrong. The people put them in there. They should be listening to the people.”

He is concerned about how the city approaches economic development.

The city government does not want new industry instead choosing to build a retirement community, White said. “What I find out, they don’t wand industry in here. I think that’s wrong because you’ve got to have it to take some of the load off of the taxpayer. A lot of people are on fixed incomes, and they can’t afford it (taxes). It really puts them in a bind.”

White does not think the council or city manager or city planner look at the issue that way, and they do not work for the people. For that, he points to the controversial Linn County Affordable Housing’s proposed planned unit development (PUD) in Strawberry Heights at the south end of Sunset Lane.

“They’re making approvals, like this deal here,” White said.

The PUD is in public hearing, which will continue with testimony before the city council at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 26 in the Fire Hall.

White does not like the way the hearing process works, with the applicant and those in favor of the proposal all speak before the opposition is heard.

“There’s a lot of things I really disagree with, the city council and their decisions,” White said. “They’ve been there so long, they’re not listening to the people.”

When the city took over the county’s roads in the east end of town, public maintenance of ditches along roadsides ended.

The city should maintain roadside ditches, White said. “They’re getting paid to do that, and they don’t do it.”

Over the last year, the church near the corner of Long Street and 37th Avenue flooded, White said. All the city needs to do is blow out the drainage system. He said five city employees showed up and sat in a truck, while one took pictures of the flooding.

White also takes issue with the water and sewer rate increases in July.

“They raise it, but they ain’t fixing it,” White said. They ain’t really solving it.”

White said he does not mind the Strawberry Heights PUD and thinks it is needed, but the city cannot handle the new development with the sewers in the shape they are in. Issues with public utilities go beyond the sewer into other issues, such as the taste of the water. He pointed to the fact that City Hall and other city departments drink bottled water instead of city water.

“This low-income thing is a good idea but they’ve got problems before they get to it,” White said. Adding anything at all adds to the problem with sewer, water and drainage.

White declined to talk about the city’s budget because he hadn’t seen any of those figures yet so he could not really give an opinion.

“I think the only thing that’s happening in this town that’s good is that club for the kids…. They should’ve had that a long time ago. I still think there’s a lot more things they could do for kids,” White said. The city could do more to get kids, who are left out to fend on their own, involved. With more activities for kids, “they’d have a lot better, safe community. The kids have to have some place to unwind, and it’s not someone’s parking lot.”

Out of high school and under the age of 21, there’s no activities, White said. He suggested, for example, a non-alcoholic dance hall.

“My biggest problem is the council just doesn’t listen to the people,” White said.

“I just want to be able to do a better job mainly for Sweet Home,” White said. “You can’t do too much even if you get in there because you really don’t know what you’re doing until you get into the paperwork.”

White lived in Sweet Home as a child. He began a military career in 1959 before an injury forced his discharge in 1972. He was an E6 First Class Ship Fitter in the U.S. Navy.

He moved back to Sweet Home in 1994 from Seattle where he retired in 1986.

“This where I was going to make my home,” White said. “And I like it. I’ve always liked Sweet Home because Sweet Home has always been my home.”