Editor’s note: Ward 1 encompasses the general area between 15h Street, Q Street and Gateway. Michelle Webber is running uncontested for the seat currently held by Damien Pitts.
Birthplace: Cottage Grove (lived in Lane County until her family moved to the Newport area, where she finished school and began her working career).
Marital status: Married in 2010
Children: All adults
Residence neighborhood: Springfield
Occupation: Commercial banking
Current employer: Columbia Bank
Public sector experience: Springfield School Board member; Chair of the Springfield Education Foundation; Treasurer of the Springfield Public Library Board, and member of the Wildish Theater Board. Currently she is a member of the LTD Board, member of the LRAPA Budget Committee and Treasurer of the Springfield Rotary Club.
Private sector experience: 30 years in the banking industry.
Chronicle: What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing your ward, and how will you ensure your ward is well-represented in the council’s decision-making process?
Webber: Affordable housing is a challenge, which we can address by looking at land availability and development fees. We can take a more aggressive role in promoting economic development and, of course, make sure we maintain a strong public safety presence.
Chronicle: What is the first piece of business you will advocate for and hope to accomplish as a city councilor?
Webber: Glenwood is Springfield’s gem in the rough and can provide many opportunities for Springfield’s future growth. Springfield is in need of an event center. I see Glenwood as the ideal location to build a state of the art facility, which would provide organizations all over the state with a place to hold business meetings and events.
Chronicle: Identify specific infrastructure improvements needed in your ward and how you plan to address them.
Webber: As we look toward future development, traffic congestion will continue to increase at Gateway / Harlow and Gateway / Beltline intersections. We will need to work with state and local partners to identify opportunities to build infrastructure to alleviate traffic pressures and ensure driver safety.
Chronicle: What steps will you take to gain the trust of the citizens you represent?
Webber: I am committed to engaging in collaborative discussions with the goal of fostering decision-making that continues to capitalize on the successes this city has achieved under its previous and current leadership. I will hold myself accountable for doing my due diligence to understand the current and future needs of our residents and business owners and for engaging in collaborative discussions surrounding these needs.
Chronicle: What are concrete goals you have for bolstering equity and inclusion within local city government?
Webber: My goal is to work with the City Manager and my fellow Councilors to ensure policies are in place to hire based on a skills first approach and ensure all employees have equal opportunities to advance.
Focus: Connecting Glenwood, helping economically challenged
When I moved to Springfield 12 years ago, I had no idea how much I would come to love this community. I am grateful to live in a unique community that protects that “hometown” spirit.
As I think about the Springfield we live in today and the Springfield I knew as a child, I am proud of the renewal of downtown and would like to see continued efforts in that area. My vision includes connecting Glenwood to these efforts and I support a public – private partnership to build an event center in Glenwood.
I was raised in a financially challenged home and can relate to the struggles many of our families are facing. We can find solutions to the affordable housing crisis by looking at land availability, development fees and taking a more aggressive approach to economic development.
I have hope that we can bridge the gap of mistrust between our citizens and the police department and city government. The majority of those wearing a police uniform are good people with good intentions. Public safety is non-negotiable and we can support our police while still holding them accountable for being excellent stewards of our community.
In the 12 years since my husband and I moved to Springfield, I have seen our city evolve in many ways. Because of dedicated and visionary leadership from past and current city leaders and community partnerships, we benefit from improved infrastructure, a vibrant downtown and many other things that make Springfield a place we want to live.
As city councilor, I look forward to working collaboratively with the citizens of Springfield and our local, state and federal partners to continue to make Springfield the place we want to call home.