Milton Mayor Tom Chesmore facing two challengers
MILTON After four years at the helm of the city of Milton in a dour economy that strained even the most fiscally conservative local governments, Milton Mayor Tom Chesmore’s seat is up for re-election on April 2.
The 54-year-old Milton native, maintenance mechanic and former Milton firefighter faces two challengers. Both are city council members.
One is Brett Frazier, 32, an economic development executive who has cut his teeth on development on the growth edge of Madison as director of the Oregon Chamber of Commerce. Frazier won a seat on the council as a write-in candidate in 2009.
The other candidate for mayor is Nancy Lader, a retired, 67-year-old New England transplant. Lader, who is a local rental property manager, has been on the city council since 2010 and was re-elected last year.
Lader’s seat on the council is not up for re-election, but if she’s elected mayor, she’d vacate her city council seat.
Frazier’s is one of three city alderman seats up for election. If Frazier wins both the mayoral and city council elections, he’d face a choice of which seat to fill, according to city staff.
If either Lader or Frazier take the mayoral seat, the council would have to decide whether to appoint somebody to the vacant seat or hold a special election, according to city staff.
The Gazette submitted the following questions to all three candidates:
Q: What’s the one thing that hasn’t happened that you believe the city must accomplish before the Highway 26 bypass is completed?
Chesmore: We must make sure we have our sign code changed so we can allow businesses to have off-site advertising signage. This attracts people off of the bypass into the city.
Frazier: We need to continue to think strategically about how we develop that corridor commercially, but we also need to focus on making sure Milton is not only a place folks want to come, but a place our residents want to stay. By incrementally improving our parks, our downtown, our library and more, we make Milton a destination—a place you want to be.
Lader: So much of the impact of the bypass is beyond our control and in the realm of educated guessing. I’d like to see a coordinated grouping of signage clearly directing traffic to the existing businesses and the future YMCA in Milton.
Q: What’s the biggest difficulty you’ve faced as a public official?
Chesmore: The biggest difficulty I have faced as mayor is balancing the city’s needs with the ability to keep Milton an affordable place to live. So many things have needed attention at the same time. It’s been a real balancing act.
Frazier: None of us ran for office because we thought it was an easy job. I’ve been in a lot of city council meetings where I’ve argued passionately for my point of view against my fellow aldermen. Sometimes I’ve been the lone voice of dissent. That can be difficult, but in the end, I was elected to represent and look out for the interests of the residents of Milton. I think I’ve done that not only when it’s easy, but also when it’s difficult.
Lader: Remoteness from community input. We always welcome the public to city council meetings, and are still working on getting meetings back on cable or on the Internet.
Q: If you had to predict an area of the city where you believe business or commerce could grow the fastest or the most in the next five years, where would that be? And what are some types of developments you’d envision there?
Chesmore: If I had to guess, I would say the area around the bypass is going to be a hot area. I would picture a gas station or two—maybe some type of eating place or even a fast-food restaurant. I could also see a hotel of some kind near the bypass. Plus, any manufacturing business looking for a place with excellent road access could be in our business park.
Frazier: The next years will bring tremendous opportunities for our city to grow commercially near the Highway 26 bypass. We’ve been preparing for it for years now. As those developments start to take shape, however, I think it will be so important for Milton to make a conscious choice to seek not only development, but development that brings with it family-sustaining jobs and companies that will fit the hometown values of Milton.
Lader: I would anticipate that the “shovel-ready” sites in the Milton industrial park will fill up. There is a location saved for a hotel. That would be a tremendous boost to Milton tourism
Q: Why should Milton residents vote for you to be mayor?
Chesmore: I have been mayor of Milton for four years and have led the city through one of the worst economic recessions in the history. Yet Milton is in great shape fiscally because of decisions that we have made. We have grown our city police department by adding officers, and we have kept our department of public works fully staffed. While other communities were cutting jobs and services, we have maintained our city. All of this while taking care not to overburden our taxpayers.
Frazier: On the council, I’ve been a voice and a vote for common sense and wise fiscal policy. The next years will present challenges and we’ll need a mayor who is ready to provide the strong and respectful leadership required to see us through. We need a mayor who will lead us toward a reinvented economic future while preserving the best of who we are as a community. I’m running because I believe I’m that leader.
Lader: Because I listen, and ask questions before responding. And because it is time for a change.