As of Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Carl Zerfing is settling into his first elected position: a member of Cascade Locks City Council.
Zerfing, the first new councilor since Kevin Rutherford was appointed in 2015, won the post in the November general election. He was sworn in during early January.
The council includes seven members — Zerfing, Deanna Busdieker, Bruce Fitzpatrick, Glenda Groves, Bobby Walker, Richard Randall, and Mayor Tom Cramblett.
In the race, three incumbents were re-elected, and Zerfing became the only new face on the panel.
Acting as an elected government official wasn’t familiar terrain for Zerfing, but his experience draws on career and volunteer work that has prepared him for the duty, he explained.
Zerfing moved to Cascade Locks in 1975. He worked for the now defunct Cascade Locks Lumber Company sawmill, then for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Bonneville Dam, for more than 25 years. He did stints at the John Day Dam and even in Afghanistan before moving back to Cascade Locks and retiring.
He devoted his volunteer hours as a paramedic and emergency medicine technician in Cascade Locks for 30 years. The education and experience gave him a firm background in ambulance services.
Zerfing enjoys taking walks around town, and one of those walks was what inspired him to seek office, he said.
“I was walking down the street one day and a lady says … ‘We need you for council,” Zerfing recalled.
A group of citizens with “opposite” views on local issues was running for open seats, he explained. Zerfing responded by running against the new group, taking up a similar platform to the incumbents who were trying to reclaim their seats — ultimately the incumbents were elected, as was Zerfing.
Zerfing’s main focus includes support for ambulance services and municipal utility crews. His response to revenue issues — a long-prescient issue in town — he said, is recruiting large businesses to propel economic growth.
“We need to improve our ambulance and to do so, we need to get more money in Cascade Locks. The only way is having big businesses in here, not just mom and pop (businesses),” Zerfing said.
He supports plans to bring in Nestlé — the Swiss company that has tried for years to build a controversial water bottling plant — or a resort similar to Skamania Lodge in Stevenson. An influx of revenue could come from a large-scale electric user, he maintained.
Summing up his goals, he said, “The main thing is being self-supporting” and that “(the city isn’t) trying to have to account for every dime.”
Zerfing feels that he’s surrounded by a good crew. “I believe we have the best people working for us,” he said of city staff.
City Council meets every second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. in the upstairs Council Chambers at City Hall, 140 WaNaPa St. Meeting agendas and information are available at www.cascade-locks.or.us.