NORTH BEND — With elections about a month away, North Bend mayor candidates Timm Slater and Rick Wetherell discussed why they would like to be the city’s mayor.
Wetherell is the incumbent, looking for his ninth term. He was first elected to the position in 2002.
“Lately we’ve been through some rocky times in our financing, and I want to see it through," Wetherell said. "We also have a lot of wonderful projects we’re working on right now."
In 1965, Wetherell moved to North Bend to work as an English teacher at North Bend High School. Many of the folks in the community were students of his, and he is very proud of the Bulldogs.
“I love being able to deal with the public," he said. "And now everybody who comes in was a student of mine at one time, so that’s also a good contact with the community."
Public safety is Wetherell’s primary concern, and if reelected he said he would look into new ways to finance public safety. The city has had some recent trouble balancing its budget with the rising costs of public safety. A measure is on the North Bend ballot to increase those fees collected through utility bills.
“The crime rate had risen, and we were well under the recommended number of policemen on staff. So we took that step to hire more officers and now we’ve got to find a way to pay for it,” Wetherell said.
Slater is trying to regain the role of mayor in North Bend, which he held for a 12-year stint from 1984 to 1998. Slater is currently a member of North Bend City Council.
“I want to set a foundation for North Bend’s future," Slater said. "We really haven’t done a whole bunch in the way of visioning and goal setting."
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If elected, Slater hopes to define North Bend so that the city can work together to begin achieving its goals.
“I’m interested in developing a picture of who we are and what we want to be, so that we can put together our goals and start achieving them,” he said.
Another push Slater hopes to make if elected is getting younger folks involved in city government.
“We’re at a transition of leadership at this point, and I’d really like to see the development of 20, 30, and 40-year-olds into city government," Slater said. "It’s really their future that’s being created, and I believe it’s well worth the investment of their time."
Slater wants to see more being done in North Bend and to use Urban Renewal money more effectively to bring people into the area.
“Our Boardwalk piece was put in about eight or nine years ago, but that’s all that’s been done on our water front … how about we put a berthing spot out there, and maybe we could actually share the tall ships between Coos Bay and North Bend,” he said.
He hopes to reignite the North Bend Downtown Association, which Slater says is on stall at the moment.
“We as a city can help merchants by figuring out what works for them, what’s important to them, and help facilitate getting that together as a viable operation,” Slater said.
Slater added that he feels the community of North Bend is willing to help out and participate in building the city up, but the residents require some direction to do it.