Cascade Locks residents heard two topics of contention between mayoral candidates Thursday in a forum attended by about 50 people at Port Pavilion. Cascade Locks Business Association organized the event.
Mayor Tom Cramblett faces a challenge from retiree Kathy Tittle on the Nov. 6 ballot.
City Council candidates also appeared; incumbents Deanna Busdieker and Richard Randall, with five and six years in office respectively, are running along with three newcomers:
Julie Caldwell, who works at Cascade Ale House and has lived in Cascade Locks six years;
Butch Miller, a retired taxi driver who moved to Cascade Locks a year and a half ago, but with family connections there going back 42 years;
Sara Patrick, a 47-year resident who works as a bartender and with Brigham Fish Market and is an Umatilla Tribes member.
Hood River News will profile the council candidates in the Oct. 13 edition.
Cramblett, a life-long resident who is seeking a fourth two-year term, pointed towards his attempt “to be as fiscally responsible as we can and then move ahead on the things you want the city to be doing, and the city council as governing council, to take care of.”
Tittle stated, “My platform is transparency in government and term limits. Tom has been mayor for six years and has done a great job, he is a hard worker and a nice guy but if he wins again, that will be the fourth term, eight years, and I think it is time for fresh thoughts and ideas.”
Later, Cramblett responded, “Six years is not a long time. I still believe I’m moving ahead with things and I’ve got lots of things I want to work on with the council.”
Tittle said, “I will listen to the citizens. I’m retired, so I have the time. I’m rolling up my sleeves to see what’s going on. I’d be transparent, and if anything came for me to deal with, I’m not the only one up here,” she said, referring to those elected to City Council.
Tittle started her remarks by saying that the community “just found out about the copper in our water, it’s dangerous levels, and we were not told about it, from 2015 until 2018 until the city administrator got a letter” from Oregon Health Authority.
Cramblett stated Thursday, “We do not have dangerous levels of copper in our water,” and the city is directing funds to upgrade the water system to add chemicals to neutralize the copper levels that might be present. He noted that the city was in the process of addressing the situation.
According to Gordon Zimmerman, city administrator, the copper issue is not in the water system. The corroded copper that shows up in the samples is the result of a pH factor in the water that corrodes the copper pipes found in the homes in the community. Newer homes do not have a problem with copper corrosion, only older homes where the plumbing has not been redone, he stated.
Zimmerson said, “The sample where the copper showed up was in September 2015. That means it would not have been in the 2015 Water Quality Report sent out in July 1 (2015). It was included in the 2016 Water Quality Report sent out July 1, 2016, but without the stronger language required by OHA.”
Tittle, who lived in Cascade Locks through her 10th grade year and moved back 28 years ago, is the former owner of Cascade Locks Chevron.
In her opening remarks, she read from a prepared statement and said it seems “like applying for a job, I guess I am applying a two-year job that doesn’t pay anything, and to be in charge of some people who make quite a bit of money in some cases.”
Her statement pointed to the second of her two contentions with Cramblett:
Tittle was critical of City Manager Gordon Zimmerman’s $100,000 salary, and the $10,000 increase he received in the past year “at a time when we can’t hire more people for EMS”, she said.
Cramblett noted that Zimmerman’s compensation is less than that paid to municipal CEOs in similar-sized Oregon cities, and that he is serves as code enforcement officer and acts as chief lineman for the city electrical program — two positions that the city has been able to fill.