Corvallis special election includes five measures, one city councilor

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Jacob Le

Corvallis Mayor Biff Traber being interviewed via Zoom on Oct. 12 about the upcoming special election. The Corvallis election has five measures within it as well as the potential for a new city councilor to be elected.

Adam Figgins, News Contributor

The upcoming Corvallis, Ore. election, being held Nov. 2, will decide if five new measures will be passed and if one new councilor will be instated.

Measures 2-131, 2-132 and 2-133 will be voted on by most Corvallis residents while ballots with measure 2-134 and 2-135 will only be sent to a minority of residents living near Albany, Ore. 

In the past, Corvallis has had issues with filling the city manager position, and Measure 2-131 offers a solution to that problem.

“The last time we had to replace a city manager, we ran into an esoteric kind of problem,” Mayor of Corvallis Biff Traber said. “We had a wonderful city manager pro tem… the finance director, Nancy Brewer, who knew the city and how to keep us moving forward positively.” 

With the old charter rules, Brewer had to step down after six months—pro tem means the position was temporary—which left the city without a manager. Measure 2-131 will set a pro tem limit of two years, preventing another removal of an efficient pro tem manager while there is a search for someone to permanently fill the position. 

Measure 2-132 also works to optimize how city positions are filled, and if passed will require vacant city council positions to be filled within 60 days. This measure will also require residents from the vacant ward, Ward 8, to nominate a candidate. 

“This is a very standard process that many cities already use,” said City Councilor of Ward 4 Gabe Shepherd. “It would have been used at least three times during the last five years and limited the gaps residents in both Ward 8 and Ward 7 had without direct representation. The appointment process saves the city money, allows for expedient representation and requires there be opportunity for public input.”

Corvallis resident Tracey Yee is on the ballot to fill the current vacant position in Ward 8. Based on her community involvement, Traber endorses Yee. 

“With her background at Oregon State University [and] with her community involvement background, I think she’ll make a good city councilor,” Traber said. “A key value of a city councilor is one who’s willing to get to work, who’s willing to represent both their ward and their city as a whole and is familiar with how things work in council and city government, and she definitely has those qualifications.”

Measure 2-133 is another key measure being voted on and is supported by Councilor Laurie Chaplen who represents Ward 6 and the Corvallis Good Governance Political Action Committee, which includes Traber and Shepherd.

“[Measure 2-133] will change the [charter] language to gender neutral,” Chaplen said in an  email. “I prefer gender neutral language in the city charter.”

This amendment would remove gender specific pronouns throughout the city charter, in a move that Traber said is a step forward.

“We have in our Imagine Corvallis 2040 vision [to] reinforce the goal in a variety of places [to] make Corvallis more welcoming to all,” Traber said. “This [measure] is an example of some of those first steps, this one long overdue.”

The Imagine Corvallis 2040 vision’s goal is to support diversity and engage a changing population, keep Corvallis safe, develop and grow accessible healthcare, help build and diversify the local economy, grow the arts and culture and optimize the layout of Corvallis.

Traber said the council is also working on a bias response system, which will look similar to OSU’s. OSU’s Office of Institutional Diversity currently employs a Bias Incident Response program which seeks to address reports of bias incidents for the university community.

Measure 2-134 only covers the North Albany Fire Protection District and will not affect most Corvallis residents. If the measure passes, residents in the Fire Protection District will see local tax options renewed for another five years.

Measure 2-135 covers the small McDonald Forest Estates Special Road District, and the tax increase may cause property tax to raise about 3%; these taxes would go to road maintenance in the district.

“As easy as we make it in Oregon, both in terms of registration with the motor voter registration and the mail in ballots, it is still to me surprising how many people don’t vote,” Traber said.