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Eight vie for city council

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Lebanon has a full slate of candidates

By Stephen Lega

Citizens of Lebanon will have plenty of choices when they are deciding who will serve on the next city council.

Eight people are running for the six council seats. Jerry Abell, Jay Grundy, Denise Fogle, Kenny Marrett, Elizabeth Ann Osbourne, Kate Palagi, Jim Richardson and Darin Spalding will be on the ballot Nov. 2.

Fogle, Marrett, Osbourne, Palagi and Richardson are on the council at this time. Abell and Spalding have served previously, and Grundy ran for the council one other time in a special election.

Current council member Bill Pickerill did not file to run this year.

All eight of the candidates replied to a questionnaire sent by the Enterprise. Candidates gave their opinions on the property maintenance ordinance, E-911, the park expansion and retaining police officers, as well as a few issues of their own choosing. To read the complete questionnaires for each candidate, visit www.lebanonenterprise.com.

Jerry Abell Abell, 52, served on the council from 1994-2006.

"The reason I am running for city council is because I enjoy helping the citizens of my community and making sure they are treated fairly," he wrote. "Also, I want to make sure employees are paid a fair wage with good benefits."

Abell supports the property maintenance ordinance. As a former firefighter, he is in favor of E-911, and he once made a motion for the city and the county to split the costs. (At that time, the motion was not approved.)

He added that the city should give more consideration to the park expansion and other improvements, and it should consider corporate sponsorship and private donations for those improvements.

Abell wrote that the city needs to pay police officers a wage that is competitive to neighboring communities. He would also like the council to restrict tax increases and keep a strict budget.

"I would like the voters to know that I am always willing to listen, take a stand, and be a voice for the people," he said.

Denise Fogle

Fogle, 55, was first elected to the city council during a special election in 2007.

"I enjoy listening to those who have concerns and working with others to help our community grow," she wrote. "I feel that I am open-minded and that I assist in bringing people together to solve problems and improve our city."

Fogle wrote that she strongly supports the property maintenance ordinance and that the community needs E-911. She supports funding E-911 in a way that city residents do not pay twice.

On the park, she wrote that more information is needed before the council decides on future projects. She also wrote that the city may want to accelerate the pay increases for police officers to help with retention efforts.

She noted that the city's infrastructure needs work, and the city needs to attract new businesses, which will also provide more revenue for the city.

"I believe we can learn something new from each other every day and your input makes me a better member of the Council," she wrote. "Serving on the city council has taught me a lot about our community."

Jay Grundy

Grundy, 27, first ran for city council during a special election in 2007. This is his first time running in a general election.

"I feel it is necessary for someone to represent the small business community of Lebanon and show leadership in a conservative manner," he wrote. "Money is not being spent in the right places and people are upset with that fact."

Grundy supports cleaning up dilapidated properties, so long as it is done in a respectful manner. He supports E-911 if it is something that will save lives, and he believes prioritizing and cutting frivolous spending could help pay for the service.

He wrote that the park is nice, but enough tax money has been spent there. He would prefer that that the city focus on growing the local economy. On police retention, he wrote that the issue is simple: if the city wants to keep its officers, it needs to pay them.

Grundy added that the city should create a sensible budget, prioritize its spending, take care of the sewer smell that affects parts of the city and make sure the 2 percent tourism tax is benefiting all citizens.

"If you are looking for someone to stand up and say no, to stir the pot for the better good of the people and to make sure that your tax dollars are spent in a conservative, responsible manner then please give me your vote," he wrote.

Kenny Marrett

Marrett, 58, has served three terms on the Lebanon City Council.

"The budget is the city council's biggest responsibility. In these times we need experienced members to watch our tax dollars," he wrote. "Tourism is our biggest challenge. We need to change some of our current strategy by becoming more sensitive to our local volunteers needs."

Marrett wrote the he supports the property maintenance ordinance, but he feels it is popular now because it focuses on eyesores. Since the ordinance actually extends to the interior of the property, it will need to be amended if that is ever enforced, he wrote.

He supports E-911 and wrote that it should not have taken this long to enact. He would like trees planted to create more picnic areas at the park, as well as more non-sporting activities. Marrett is in favor of increasing the starting pay for police officers so the city can complete with other communities.

He added that the city needs to increase its retail trade and entice more people to build new homes in the city. He also supports assisting technical education as it tries to improve its programs.

"I listen to the public's concerns and act on those concerns when needed," he wrote.

Elizabeth Ann Osbourne

Osbourne, 73, has been a member of the city council for 10 years.

"I want to do my part to help with bringing jobs to the city. Our young people could stay and work in the city," she wrote. "I want progress for the future of Lebanon, so we could watch our city grow."

She wrote that she fully supports the property maintenance ordinance. She supports E-911, and she suggested grants, mutual funds or the general funds as possible sources to pay for the service.

At the park, she noted that it would be nice to have an RV park (a suggestion that was presented to the council at a recent meeting). She wrote that the city was not able to afford a pay raise for police officers at this time, but the council will be working on ways to retain officers.

She added that the city needs sidewalk improvements, more industries and clothing stores for men and women.

"I have lived here all my life, and want to do my part to help the city grow," she wrote. "It is a great honor to be on the city council."

Kate Palagi Palagi, 37, was elected to the city council in 2008.

"Since my husband and I settled in Lebanon and started raising our family more than 13 years ago, we have seen so much positive change in our city," she wrote. "I would like to continue to play a role in this positive movement of our community."

Palagi wrote that she has seen success in cleaning up properties since the property maintenance ordinance was approved. She would also support tailoring the ordinance to address needs in the community. She supports E-911, and noted that the tax collected on cell phones and grants could help pay for the service.

At the park, she wrote that she would like to see more improvements at the soccer fields, a paved parking lot and a walking trail connecting the newer and older parts of the park.

Palagi supports increasing pay for police officers, although this may be challenging with the current budget. For the next few years, she added that the council's focus should be on how tax dollars are being spent.

"I am a team oriented leader who will listen to the ideas of everyone before deciding what direction makes the most sense in moving forward," she wrote. "If re-elected you can count on me to work hard, listen and continue the success of Lebanon."

Jim Richardson Richardson, 68, has been a city councilman for six years.

"I feel that every person should be willing to help make their community a better place to live and raise their families," he wrote.

Richardson also wrote that he supports the property maintenance ordinance, although it may have gone too far in a few cases. He also supports E-911 as long as it is funded equally by all county residents. At the park, he wrote that the city should consider more playground equipment near the baseball fields.

Richardson wrote that the city needs to come up with more money if it wants to retain police officers. He added that the city also needs to improve its sidewalks and upgrade its sewer system.

"I want the public to know that on any major issue that arises I make an effort to go out into the public and find out from some of the people that I truly respect how they feel about the situation," he wrote.

Darin Spalding

Spalding, 42, previously served six years on the city council.

"I'm running for re-election to continue to grow Lebanon's economy and standard of living," he wrote.

Spalding supports the property maintenance ordinance, although he added that in a perfect society the government wouldn't need to get involved to address eye sores. Spalding supports E-911 for the county, but he feels the county should pay for it so that city residents are not double-taxed for the service. At the park, Spalding would like the city to complete the concession stand by the soccer fields, to work with the county to pave the parking lot next to the soccer fields, and to add batting cages near the new baseball fields.

Regarding police officer retention, Spalding wrote that the city needs to monitor what comparable cities pay their police officers and look for officers who like small town life. He added that a good council isn't looking to make new ordinances all the time and should be good stewards of tax dollars.

"I am open to discuss any issues or problems with the citizens of Lebanon at anytime," he wrote.