Seasoned council will lead Sisters
Last updated 11/15/2022 at Noon
The 2023 Sisters City Council will see only one newcomer, Susan Cobb, who will take the seat vacated by retiring Council President Nancy Connolly, who has served for eight years.
Gary Ross and Michael Preedin were reelected to serve for four years, and Cobb will serve for two. They join continuing Council members Andrea Blum and Jennifer Letz.
Ross, who garnered 28 percent of the vote with 1,179 votes, said, “I want to thank the voters of Sisters for trusting me with their vote.”
Ross had not intended to run for reelection, but a few factors played into his decision to reconsider.
“We will soon have a new city manager,” he said. “We just adopted an updated Comprehensive Plan. A new Parks Master Plan is about ready for adoption, and efficiency measures by way of text amendments are being decided. I believe continuity on the City Council in this time of change will increase our chances of success. In addition, there are several key projects in late planning stages I want to help bring to fruition.”
Ross is hopeful the community can find sustainable solutions to helping our houseless population without being distracted by short-term solutions that are expensive and unlikely to succeed given governmental restrictions, and possible citizen resistance.
“We must work with developers to ensure the people who educate our children, run our clinics, and staff our businesses have an affordable housing opportunity in our community,” Ross added.
Ross would like to see honest, but civil, dialogue as the City and the residents navigate the difficult discussions related to growth and what Sisters will look like for the next 20 years.
“All of these issues present challenges, but they are not insurmountable. It takes community involvement, careful examination of issues by City staff and Council, and support from our civic partners and local businesses,” he explained.
Preedin, with 1,093 votes for 26 percent, said he ran for reelection to “finish up a few of the bigger projects that I helped start.”
The Highway 20/Locust roundabout is fully funded, in final design with ODOT, and due to start construction next fall. Upgrades to Barclay Drive to create an optimal alternate route around downtown are in the works. The new destination management organization Explore Sisters will be up and running in early 2023.
“Both of these big-ticket projects will greatly help to maintain the livability of Sisters, even as we grow, by reducing traffic in the downtown core and marketing tourism in ways to spread tourists even more into the shoulder seasons and winter,” Preedin said.
Preedin also looks forward to the development of the East Portal mobility hub as well as working to get a new multifamily workforce housing rental project going. He sees the need for continuing economic development work occurring.
“It is also important to me to help bridge the gap between our previous city manager and the new one, who will be hired over the next months. A continuity of leadership and information to share with the new city manager is critical in my mind,” he said.
Susan Cobb, who received 1,026 votes or 24 percent, is pleased to have been elected.
“It is an honor to have this opportunity to serve the city of Sisters,” she said. I sincerely thank those who voted for me; for their confidence that I will be a fair representative of the people of Sisters. I look forward to working with and for the people of Sisters to assure our city continues to be safe, viable, and sustainable. I am also looking forward to getting to know the competent team of people working in City Hall and learning from and working with the other councilors.”
Cobb expressed appreciation for those who endorsed and supported her and for the organizations that provided candidate forums during the election.
Sarah McDougall, with 914 votes or 22 percent, came in fourth in the three-position race. She enjoyed the experience of running for office.
“My favorite part of running was connecting with many Sisters neighbors and talking about concerns in our community,” she said. “People have missed face-to-face discussions, which had decreased due to technology, and then further declined during the pandemic. I love living in Sisters and will continue engaging in the community in other ways and will consider running again in 2024.”
The Sisters proposed City Charter amendments, Measure 9-147, was approved with 1,371 yes votes, or 74 percent, to 474 no votes, or 26 percent.