Myrtle Point Mayor Michael Johnson knows his way around town.
The 47-year-old grew up in Myrtle Point and, with his wife, has raised three kids here.
Having served eight years on the city council and two as mayor, he also knows the ropes of city government and grantsmanship.
Even his career gives him knowledge he can use as mayor. He's a treatment plant operator for the Coos Bay/North Bend Water Board.
He's been bringing all that knowledge to bear on the problem of getting Myrtle Point a new sewer plant.
'That's one of the reasons I got elected the first time," he said.
'We've got to make it affordable."
Since he's been mayor, Johnson said, the city has made good progress toward that goal. Applications for state revolving fund grants are in progress.
'We're right on board with where we need to be," he said.
'We're looking at other funding options and we still have open connections."
Spruce up parks
Another priority for Johnson is beautifying the city. First, he'd like to make the entrances to the city more attractive.
He'd like to make better use of the city's parks for outdoor concerts and other community events.
'There's nothing that makes Myrtle Point stand out," he said.
'There are a lot of grants out there for beautification and parks."
Johnson praises the Myrtle Point Forum and Chamber of Commerce as community institutions that do great things for the city.
'I don't see myself as the leader of the city," he said.
'I'm the head of the counci; I run the council.
'But it's up to the citizens and the council to make 90 percent of the decisions about where to go and what to do.
'I see myself as helping the citizens make this the best community it can possibly be."
Perez: Fresh ideas, focus on youth
Although Victor Perez has been in Myrtle Point only three years, he's already made his mark as an organizer.
He started the Leos Club, a Lions offshoot that gives teenagers an opportunity to have fun serving the community.
Now he'd like to be mayor so he can help improve opportunities that await them later in life.
'Our youth are going to go to college, and I want to make it possible for them to return and make a life here as adults."
Kids are Perez's career as well as his hobby. He works with special-education students as a shadow/instructional assistant for the Coquille School District. His wife, a North Bend native, is also a teacher.
But the 46-year-old Perez has ideas about everything, not just kids.
First, he'd like to see the city consider a broader range of design options for the wastewater treatment plant, to see if it could be built at less expense than the current proposed design.
He also thinks the city needs to be more 'business-friendly," and has joined the Chamber of Commerce to better understand how that can happen.
He already knows he'd like to keep regulation and taxation to a minimum.
Improving the schools, he said, would make the area more attractive to businesses.
He'd like to see the fairgrounds used more, and sees the Coquille Valley Enterprise Zone as an asset.
He said an enterprise zone with tax breaks for new business helped Oklahoma City, where he used to live, bring the Bass Pro Shops headquarters to town.
In his three years in Myrtle Point, Perez has been to only a couple of city council meetings. But he said people have encouraged him to run because his big-city experience will help him bring fresh ideas to the job of mayor.
'I feel like I can make a difference and bring ideas to the town."
Reporter Gail Elber can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 234, or at email@example.com.