Susan Walenza is convinced that Ward 7 needs representation on the Corvallis City Council.
And she feels it so strongly that she went before the council at its Sept. 3 meeting to urge councilors to implement a temporary moratorium on land-use decisions until the seat, vacated by Bill Glassmire for health reasons, is filled.
Walenza is one of five candidates on the crowded Nov. 5 ballot aiming to replace Glassmire, who resigned eight months into his third term after being injured in a July 10 bicycle accident. The seat has been vacant since Corvallis Mayor Biff Traber announced Glassmire’s resignation at the Aug. 5 City Council meeting.
Also running for the seat are Linda Gearhart, Lucas Letelier, Brad Longman and Paul Shaffer.
Of particular concern to Walenza, who spoke during the community comments section of the Sept. 3 meeting, were three controversial land-use cases that have come before the city recently: the Oregon State University development sector swap, the Carson zone change and the Caldwell Farms annexation.
The OSU and Carson cases were approved with one-vote margins, while deliberations and a vote on the Caldwell case are set for Sept. 16.
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“I’m not speaking on the merit of any issue,” Walenza said, “but Ward 7 needs a voice and a vote. To proceed in the absence of representation disenfranchises a whole section of the city.”
Councilors, City Manager Mark Shepard and City Attorney Jim Brewer discussed Walenza’s concerns during the mayor/council reports section which closed the meeting.
Brewer noted that the 120-day clock that is used on many land-use cases would not dovetail well with a moratorium. Brewer added that setting up a moratorium would be time-consuming and might not survive an appeal. Brewer also questioned whether a vacancy “is a good enough reason to stop doing business” and noted that a possible solution might be to change the city charter to allow for a quicker replacement process.
Shepard added that councilors “are representing the entire city when they make decisions.”
Walenza, in an interview with Gazette-Times, said she “will work to make Corvallis as vibrant a community as possible for people from all walks of life, considering planning and housing and environmental sustainability. Citizen involvement is crucial for ensuring that our neighborhoods retain the characteristics that make them places that feel like home.”
On working with OSU on issues such as the sector swap that likely will lead to a new dorm at the corner of Monroe Avenue and Ninth Street, Walenza said she “will seek to collaborate with the university to find ways to enhance our strengths together in order to become more vibrant and rich a community for the benefit of all.”