City & Government

Elections: Creswell City Council candidate Q&A

Normajean Osborn, Jeri Hutchinson, Shelly Clark, JoeRell Medina and write-in candidate Scott Fetter

A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: The Chronicle kicks off its election coverage this week with a focus on mayoral races in Creswell and Cottage Grove, plus an in-depth Q&A from Creswell city council candidates. Springfield council candidate Kori Rodley offers a guest column this week, and more Springfield and Cottage Grove coverage will be featured Oct. 22. The Chronicle does not endorse any candidate. We present opportunities for them to speak for themselves with a Q&A and guest columns. Not all candidates chose to participate, including JoeRell Medina.

Q: How well is Creswell city government working and how would you drive future improvement? 

Shelly Clark: As I have had the opportunity to observe the actions of the Creswell city government over the past few years I believe they are for the most part effective. I have appreciated the growth of the presence of the Creswell city government on social media, through recorded/live virtual meetings, and through the City of Creswell website. I believe that there is transparency in what the City of Creswell is trying to accomplish.  I would drive continued future growth by helping to ensure that processes that are being considered are actually meeting the intended outcomes. A phrase that I have used with students over the years in regard to the use of parliamentary procedure is that sometimes “speed slows us down.” I think it is important to have robust conversations and clarity on your intended outcomes.

Jeri Hutchinson: I don’t follow government stuff as close as I should. I feel it’s working, to the best to my knowledge. I think the year 2020 has made all of us open our eyes more. I would try to identify, analyze and help improve existing business processes. 

Normajean Osborn: The City of Creswell is doing a good job but also we can continue to improve. 

Q: Creswell contracts with LCSO for $995,701, providing four deputies and a sheriff. Contractual services increased $208,541 this fiscal year in order to add a fourth deputy. What is the current state of public safety in Creswell and what would you do to ensure that citizens feel safe? 

Clark: I have always approached budgets and budget development with the phrase, “You can tell the values of an organization by looking at how they are allocating their money.” Since there was an approximate 20% increase to a line item in the LCSO budget then that indicates to me that Creswell is looking for ways to increase the feeling of safety and security within the City.  

As I talk to my neighbors and make observations on social media, it seems that there is a lot of fear of the unknown. Fear that someone won’t be available and responsive to their call for help in the middle of the night, fear that their house is going to get burglarized, fear of peaceful protest, and fear that people are driving too fast down residential streets. I would encourage more open conversation and transparency of process between those that are contracted to serve the City of Creswell and the citizens of Creswell. I would hope to reduce the fear of the unknown by demystifying what is actually occurring.

Hutchinson: I feel that cops have their hands full right now with everything going on. From dealing with COVID-19, everyone arguing, all the “Karens” that call every little thing they get annoyed with instead of handling the situation themselves. Cops have a lot on their plate and do a good job with what they have to work with. I would help ensure safety by starting out little: Social media safety: Don’t put on Facebook you are going out of town for vacation; and neighborhood watch or community meetings: The people involved in our community want opportunities to talk to each other, share ideas, brainstorm ideas, or even just to get to know each other. This is also true for safety advocates, too. Face-to-face interactions are better than misunderstanding of keyboard wars. 

Osborn: I support LCSO and the increase in its services. I hope this will improve our lives and decrease the crimes and problems.

  Q: What is your opinion on the need to address social justice and racial issues in Creswell and how would you lead the council on this topic?

Clark: I believe that every city in the United States has a responsibility to address social justice needs within their city, Creswell included.  

According to the Census, 90% of the City of Creswell identifies as “white alone” meaning that they don’t identify as any other race. If you compare those same numbers to the United States as a whole, the City of Creswell is about 15% higher in “white alone” designations. To me, that seems to be a large discrepancy and the question should be asked of why? Why are individuals and families of color not moving here? If they are moving here, are they staying here? What are they saying if they decide to move away?

There was a recent article in The Chronicle that shared that one of the only independent contractors of color for the City recently decided to leave their position and completely move out of the State of Oregon. When asked for their reasoning for leaving the city and state, they shared that they often got looks of distrust, that they were dismissed when they wanted to incorporate inclusion opportunities within the operations of the city, and that they just felt targeted every day.

I believe that the citizens of Creswell are looking to their city leadership to understand how non-majority identities are honored, celebrated, and retained. If elected, I would hope to provide leadership on this topic by valuing inclusion in all decisions.

Hutchinson: Everyone is entitled to their opinions. The problem is people are rude, mean and have either an “I’m better than you” or an “I really don’t care” attitude. The topic on equity is a sensitive subject. It should be taught by parents to their kids and in history classes. You cannot change history like people are trying to do because it offends someone. This is a huge topic that needs all community involvement, not a seven-person panel to decide. 

Osborn: Social justice and equality are important topics, but it is obvious from the community’s reaction that there is a lot of confusion about the goals. I think it was more about declaring what a kind, beautiful community we are than it was an attack on anyone. Perhaps we should revisit this at another time when the stresses of 2020 are a past memory. 

Q: Do you utilize Creswell parks and businesses? Where are your favorite places to spend time?

Clark: As an avid runner I take pride in having seen much of our city through my race training. Since I am not a fast runner I get the opportunity to take extra time as I pass by our parks and businesses.  

I enjoy taking our dog (Cheddar) for walks near Creslane Elementary School and Creswell High School. When it is healthy and safe for us to dine inside, I particularly enjoy eating the “Chef’s Tasting Menu” at Pazzo. Since I am often getting food “to go” right now, I have been enjoying the Thai food offerings at Dak. My husband and I have made donations over the years to help expand the Creswell Library. We enjoy the audio book offerings from the Library when we take longer car trips.

Hutchinson: Sadly I do not use the parks here. I shop at the local businesses when I get the chance. I spend my time in the sand. 

Osborn: I enjoy spending time in the parks with my granddaughters when they come to visit me. They enjoy playing on the play structures and meeting kids they can play with. My son and I have enjoyed spending time in Garden Park walking around to see the woods and lake. Membership in the Park and Tree Advisory Committee has given me the opportunity to help develop the properties into new parks. I’m particularly interested in our plans for an inclusive park that will allow all children and adults with disabilities to use the equipment of the park. But all people can use these facilities so handicapped kids can feel like regular kids as all kids can play together. Of course if the adults are handicapped they can also play with the kids.

I am increasing my support for the local businesses since the pandemic has caused me to stay in the City of Creswell more than before. I know that small businesses can be an important asset for citizens for work so I’m hoping that our support for the businesses will help people to earn where they live. 

Q: How might the business community be better served through the pandemic and in the future? What would you do to better support current businesses and attract new ones? 

Clark: Since the beginning of March, every business has needed to make critical changes in their operations. They have needed to explore ways to have employees work from home, have their services be delivered rather than expecting the customer to go to them, consider new ways of implementing safety precautions, and supporting their employees when their community doesn’t have the same high regard for healthful practices.

My encouragement would be for the Creswell Chamber of Commerce to engage with businesses to create ways for businesses to communicate with each other, as well as with the community on how they have adjusted their practices and services. I would also hope that the Creswell Chamber of Commerce would be able to provide resources to businesses if they are struggling to meet the minimum requirements set by the Oregon Health Authority. (i.e., offering hand sanitizer, face coverings, distance markers, etc.)

Hutchinson: I feel like through the pandemic people are scared but life still must go on. Having an online delivery would be helpful to people who don’t want to travel out of the home. You shop and pay online and someone delivers to your porch. 

Osborn: It is important that the City of Creswell is supportive of the small businesses and so far I think we’re doing a good job. We need to reach out to the small business community to find out what their needs are so that we can improve our outreach.


Q: What drove you to campaign as a write-in candidate for city council? Why didn’t you choose to run as an official candidate?

Fetter: I chose to campaign for Creswell City Council after I heard about the equality committee idea from our current city council. I have to run as a write-in because I didn’t plan on a seat until after the deadline for signatures had passed.

Q: How well is Creswell city government working and how would you drive future improvement? 

Fetter: I hope to bring new ideas and possible ways to fix problems that are brought to our attention. The fabricator in me likes to try and fix and solve problems.

Q: What is your opinion on the need to address social justice and racial issues in Creswell and how would you lead the council on this topic?

Fetter: Any group who riots and damages property are domestic terrorists and should be labeled and treated as such. I have three family members that are in law enforcement and they have very difficult jobs.  

Q: Do you utilize Creswell parks and businesses? Where are your favorite places to spend time?

Fetter: I live near Holt Park and like seeing people use the park, to give children things to do outside besides sitting in their homes. I try to do as much local business that our small town has, but like most of us I see myself going into town about two or three times a week.

Q: How might the business community be better served through the pandemic and in the future? What would you do to better support current businesses and attract new ones? 

Fetter: With the governor setting the rules for all of our state to play by, it is hard to push back without consequences which wouldn’t help our town. I look at it this way: if you don’t like how things are going, make a change, and that is what I’m doing. I would love to see new business come into our town to give it the growth and expansion that we need.

– Edited by Erin Tierney

Read more:

Creswell mayor race – click here

Creswell City Council race – click here

Cottage Grove mayor race – click here

Cottage Grove City Council race – click here

Springfield City Council race – click here

Chinese Astrology: The Candidate Series – Ivan DelSol

Chinese Astrology: The Candidate Series – Jeff Gowing


Candidate columns:

Chalice Savage – Cottage Grove City Council candidate

Shelly Clark – Creswell City Council candidate

Kori Rodley – Springfield City Council candidate

Ivan DelSol – Cottage Grove mayor candidate

Kevin Prociw – Creswell mayor candidate



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