Editor’s note: This is Part II of The Chronicle’s Q&A with Creswell mayoral candidates Kevin Prociw and Dave Stram. JoeRell Medina did not participate before his resignation. Read Part 1 here.
Why would you be a better fit for the job than the other applicants?
PROCIW: Having served the community since 2018, I was honored to be unanimously selected as council president in January. I understand the council dynamics and the issues before us more than any of the known applicants. I have over 25 years of local government experience across multiple program areas through my work as a technology project manager. With several years of demonstrated and award-winning experience, I know how to empower people and projects for success and how to engage and build a successful community. It is literally my daily job to help build teams and consensus around issues. I understand how transparent government should work and have actively fought to save taxpayer money in all my many roles as a public servant and citizen activist.
Additionally, I’ve already been advocating for Creswell for quite some time now and even more so in the short time I’ve been doing AIC mayor duty. I’ve reviewed and/or responded to a plethora of emails, spoken to regional leaders, engaged in multiple conversations over the future of Creswell, done radio interviews, and most recently a documentary interview for the BBC. Every single time, I affirm with the solid belief and conviction that Creswell is a friendly and inclusive city and that we aim to do even better.
Through my employment, I’ve had an active role in supporting Covid preparedness and response and have firsthand access to Covid information and data on a regular basis. I’ve helped prepare safety plans for public employees during the earlier part of the pandemic. This knowledge and experience helps me make informed decisions as a council leader.
Lastly, in 2017 I led some friends and other committed community members on an epic fight against the cannabis moguls that sought to make Creswell their playground. While I never opposed cannabis itself, I knew that this company was bad news for Creswell. I facilitated community conversations that led to the formation of a rockstar team and a solid plan to show these people the door and inform others who would try the same that Creswell is not for sale. The outcome was an unheard of 85% victory – but I didn’t do it alone! 1,700 Creswellian voters joined us that day in an act of community unison.
Leadership is about motivating others and helping to bring out the leadership potential in themselves. After that amazing feat at the ballot box, I challenged two of our team’s core leaders to join me in serving here in Creswell. One is now a city councilor, and the other is a planning commissioner. Great leadership inspires even further great leadership – and that’s what I want for Creswell.
STRAM: Why am I a better fit? Because I have earned the trust of the people of Creswell. Yes, I was elected three times, but winning an election just provides the opportunity to do something. The question is, what did I do with the opportunity? Working with our councilors and city staff, I led the way toward great good for the people of Creswell, and that has earned me credibility. Not just because I’m a nice guy, but because I took the opportunity given and led with competence. We need that kind of leader again.
As mayor, I led a city that was in disrepair into a place of healing and great accomplishment. Three months into my first term, the city administrator and two councilors resigned. For 11 months our city operated with three different interim-administrators before we were able to hire a new administrator. And yet, during this time we created council guiding principles, set short-term goals, and got some immediate “wins” for the city. In the coming years we doubled our police force, purchased land to create an additional park, completed a master plan for our wastewater system, brought new businesses to town, developed a five-year strategic plan, held a city-wide vote on a new way to set water rates that included citizen input every year, and celebrated six successful Fourth of July parades that included representatives from every political party and firetrucks and marching bands and, yes, even horses.
Is that all that was accomplished? Far from it! Each year I gave the “State of the City” speech, highlighting what had been done the previous year. If you’d like to see more of our accomplishments, click on this link and scroll down to “mayor and city council” where you’ll find the six speeches: https://www.ci.creswell.or.us/documents. None of this was done on my own. Citizens, council members and city staff worked together, and together we did it! We can do it again.
Why am I a better fit? Because I’ve proven that I can do the job. Because when I had the opportunity, I did something good with it. Because the people of Creswell trust me.
How would you deal with negative criticism from the community?
PROCIW: Criticism can also be an opportunity for growth. I’m not perfect, so a little self-reflection is never a bad thing. Shrugging off criticism and pretending that it isn’t important would be unfortunate because it doesn’t acknowledge the potential for gaining a new perspective.
STRAM: Criticism is a part of life. I’ve learned to expect it. It happens in the best of friendships, between parents and children, in churches, civic organizations and with people we play and work with. There is wisdom in looking for the grain of truth hidden in the critical word. As mayor, I will listen to the criticisms of our citizens and seek to discern what can be done to address them. I will ask questions to make sure I understand their concerns. I will remind myself that though we have our differences, we all care deeply about Creswell. Knowing that I can’t please everyone, I will seek to make decisions that reflect the best interests of the community, listening to my conscience before casting my vote. And if you’re angry with my decision, I’ll be understanding and not take anger personally.
What is an immediate goal you want to accomplish and how would you work to achieve it?
PROCIW: Our trust amongst the council, staff and community has taken a hit lately. Trust is critical to any high-functioning and high-performing organization. I would immediately set out to build and restore trust starting at a council level – possibly prioritizing it ahead of strategic planning. We can learn and start speaking the language of trust and then set about assuring our community that their needs and concerns are being heard. I would highly recommend the “Speed of Trust” program by Steven Covey Jr. as a starting point.
STRAM: There are two immediate goals I have: the first is to create “listening sessions” as referred to above, and the second is to initiate conversations with the Creswell Chamber of Commerce and interested citizens to plan for a fantastic Fourth of July celebration, parade and fireworks in 2022. The city council can take immediate action to begin the “listening sessions.” It will take great effort by many people to bring back our Fourth of July celebration. A joint council/chamber meeting might be a good starting point.
What is a long-term goal you want to accomplish?
PROCIW: One of the nine pillars that I ran on last November was to improve our city’s posture when it comes to emergency preparedness. Great strides have occurred over recent years and I want to build on those successes. The last few years have taught us that a community’s ability to weather and survive a crisis lies within the people themselves and a solid network and plan. Working together with other community partners, we can increase our resilience and our ability to meet citizen needs during an emergency.
STRAM: My long-term goal is to complete and adopt a new five-year strategic plan for the city. We have excellent city staff doing the work of Creswell every day of the week. They are dedicated professionals that maintain our roads, water and septic systems, keep our parks clean, manage our tax dollars and so much more. The plan we create directs their daily activities. Our current strategic plan runs from 2016-21. It is vital to our future that the council create and adopt a new five-year plan. This takes a lot of work and requires input from citizens, and I am committed to having it completed by the middle of 2022.