Gary Ross brings experience to city council role


Last updated 7/11/2023 at 10:18am

Photo by Sue Stafford

Gary Ross is a a retired educator whose desire to serve his community led him to a seat on Sisters City Council.

Sisters City Councilor Gary Ross has always been interested in serving his community and being involved in key decisions. He brings his career skills and passion for public service to the city council.

Ross started his career as a high school teacher in Maine at 20 years old, just out of school. He taught what is now known as the Professional Technical Classes, aka shop class. Ross moved west and received his master's degree in education in Utah, and worked from there in Klamath Falls for eight years, teaching with an emphasis on computer science.

Ross worked in the Springfield School District for many years, oversaw the technical programs, and automated all school libraries. After leaving Springfield School District, he worked as the Media Director and Facilities Director in the Lane Education Service District.

Ross spent 30 years of his career in education, so around 50, he was ready to retire.

"I worked a couple of years after 50 and decided there was much more to life than working," he said.

Ross and his wife Judy decided to leave the valley area with Eugene and Springfield getting too big.

"We had always talked about Bend but knew we didn't want Bend, so we decided on the boundaries of Sunriver, Tumalo, and Sisters," said Ross.

They found a house that bordered Whychus Creek in Sisters surrounded by ponderosa pine trees, and decided on Sisters.

"That was enough to convince you it was a good place," said Ross.

In 2016, Ross and Judy purchased their home in Sisters and officially moved to the area in 2017.

Throughout his career, Ross served on the Willamalane Parks and Recreation District board for 13 years, with a few years as the board chair. Ross gained much experience serving on publicly elected boards with his education district and the parks board background, volunteering his time, even after his retirement.

Nancy Connelly, former Sisters City Councilor, convinced Ross' wife that he should run for Sisters City Council given his background in the parks and recreation district and love for the community. Ross decided to run in 2020 and won a two-year term.

"I was happy with my two-year term," he said. "I said, I can do my two years and be done, and then Cory left."

When former city manager Cory Misley left Sisters for a job in the Valley, Ross knew he had to stay.

"When I was at the Willamalane board, we had already bought our house here, but I stayed with their board until we hired a new superintendent because I wanted to be involved," said Ross.

And Ross wanted to continue to serve on the council until a new city manager was hired.

Ross ran for re-election in Sisters in 2022 to be involved in several key decisions.

"Thinking about some of the issues in front of us as a city, I wanted continuity. I knew that if I didn't run, there would be two new city councilors, and I felt continuity was important right now," said Ross.

Ross's role as a city councilor brings out the qualities of an experienced councilor, and someone who's served on regional boards and tries to determine where he can be most effective.

"I think that my 16 years now of serving in an elected position gives me a strong understanding of rules and regulations that we have to make decisions, some of which may appear to be arcane, but it's the deck we've been dealt in Oregon with our land-use law," he said.

Ross has a good grasp of what issues are facing Sisters.

"I can separate my personal beliefs from the decisions we have to make that are best for the community and region as a whole and make those decisions within our guidelines," said Ross.

Ross is a big believer in ethics and doing his best to serve on the council with an unbiased viewpoint to serve the greater community. According to Ross, social media and the inaccurate spreading of information is a big problem public government is facing.

"The biggest problem facing public government, whether it's city, state, national, right now is social media, and I say that as a technology person that promoted it as a professional career," he said. "The programs make it easy for people to express inaccurate or partially accurate opinions. They get passed along, creating a great divvy of angst in the community."

Ross believes strongly in the City's staff and believes it runs extremely well with a staff of only 19 people.

"You would think we have a larger staff than the 19 people. To me, it's very important that we protect the staff and allow them to do their job and acknowledge they are the ones who make the city run and attempt as much as possible not to put barriers in front of them that keep them from being successful," said Ross.

Ross is serving a four-year term after being re-elected in 2022, ending in 2026.


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