COOS BAY — Coos Bay City Councilor Drew Farmer was recently elected as one of 12 representatives throughout the state of Oregon to serve on the League of Oregon Cities Board of Directors.
The decision to elect Farmer to the board was made during the LOC’s 93rd Annual Conference in Eugene. He was elected by the League’s general membership at the annual business meeting on Sept. 29.
This was Farmer’s first time running for the LOC Board of Directors.
“League of Oregon Cities has a number of different roles it plays," Farmer said. "It provides training throughout the different cities in Oregon and helps with the cross pollination of knowledge. . . Most importantly, they operate as the lobbying body of the cities in Oregon, so they set a legislative agenda each year."
Farmer said what he’s most interested in on this year’s legislative agenda for the LOC is a push for legislation to promote and provide better mental health care, and to address homelessness and housing.
“I don’t often hear it talked about, but there was a reduction in the maximum amount of time people are kept at the state hospital, which in turn results in people returning to our communities that may not be stable yet,” Farmer said.
Outside of his time serving on the city council, Farmer works as the director of Bay Area Enterprises, a nonprofit organization that helps folks with disabilities find employment.
“I think what I’ll bring most to the LOC is my experience working with persons with disabilities from an employment standpoint and from the standpoint of working with people who are homeless," he said. "I’m not aware that anyone else on that particular body has direct experience in that field."
According to Farmer, Coos Bay is ahead of the curve when looking at how to aid people who are homeless and who have mental illnesses.
“We’re working on a community resource officer position," he said. "Additionally, we’re trying to look at properties in the city that we might be able to develop into housing."
Advocating for infrastructure projects in Oregon cities is another goal of the LOC that Farmer is interested in.
“Around here, every time we pull up a street we find cedar storm water boxes, so our infrastructure has become a pretty important issue,” Farmer said.
At the LOC conference in Eugene, there was a record level of applicants that applied for a spot on the Board of Directors. According to Farmer, he competed against 18 other applicants, each of which were given three minutes to present after being asked a number of questions by LOC members.