The North Beach Senior Center’s series of debates among candidates for local office continued Sept. 10 with Ocean Shores City Council Position 4 incumbent Jon Martin and challenger Lorraine Hardin.
Their exchanges were friendly and revealed several areas of varying degrees of agreement, such as improved communication from the city being a key to the city and community working better together. They agreed that the city should not use general fund monies to pay for city run events, and that Ocean Shores should not be a place for a homeless shelter, although Martin said proper zoning regarding such a facility placement is a good way to start, while Hardin said she feels there are already enough ordinances and permitting requirements in place to prevent an unwanted shelter. She also said Ocean Shores needs to address the lack of affordable housing, which she said affects economic development.
Both said the city should not be run like a corporation, with Hardin explaining her view that all community members have differing opinions and passions; no solution will please everyone, but the (elected) representative must remember to listen to all. Martin said that the city is run by the will of the people, but not every decision can go before the voters, that’s a function of representative government. However, he said, there are some business practices a city must follow and accountability is a basic.
They offered somewhat opposed views on creating a new chamber of commerce or business association since the last one died this July. Hardin said, “I don’t think the city needs to be the architect” of a new organization, “it’s up to the business community to decide if and how they will work together.” She added that she was happy to see with Hog Wild that “businesses came together and made sure it happened,” and the camaraderie she witnessed “felt like something we hadn’t seen for a while.” Still, she maintained, “it’s for our business leaders to decide how to build something that will stay together.”
Martin disagreed, saying he talks to many local businesses “and every business has a different vision of what that next step is in Ocean Shores. The city needs to take the lead. That doesn’t mean they need to drive it; doesn’t mean they have to do it all. Right now, our strongest organization we have in Ocean Shores is our city.” He added that he believes the city is the only entity presently in Ocean Shores that has the resources and ability to do these major events, and that the Hog Wild event would not have happened without the city taking charge and without the promotional support of the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino.
Martin continued by explaining that “my vision is the city takes the lead on major events,” and uses them to “inspire our small businesses to come together.” He said there are “a lot of people who want to be involved but don’t have time.” He believes if the city drives Convention Center events and brings businesses to the table to be part of them, “we can make Ocean Shores a better place.”
Asked to name three ways to improve efficiency in government, Martin listed effective communication with social media platforms, improved use of technology and better readability of financial reports for the public. Hardin listed determining efficient staffing levels, non-internet communication in addition to online, and more staff training.
On the question “do you plan to encourage the city to enforce its ordinances …” Hardin initially said simply, “Yes.” Later she added that “it goes back to the efficiencies” she mentioned earlier.
Martin said yes, but noted that adequate staffing was a problem when the city went from near bankruptcy to a sudden building boom. In a situation like that, he said, “it’s almost impossible to ramp up staffing” but that the council has worked to make more hires. “We will make it so we have the right people for enforcement,” he added.
“Can we do a better job of enforcing lot clearing regulations?” he asked. “Yes, we can and I think that we will.”
The remaining debates at the Senior Center take place Tuesdays at 6 p.m. and run as follows: Sept. 24, OS Council Pos. 2, Kathryn Sprigg and Michael Darling; Oct. 1, OS Mayor, Crystal Dingler and Susan Conniry; Oct. 8: OS Council Pos. 6, Bob Peterson and Chuck Anderson; Oct. 15, Hospital District 2, Pos. 2, Lynn Csernotta and Richard Thompson. Oct. 22: GH Port District Commissioner Pos. 2: Tom Quigg and Tim Carr; Oct. 29: On the Fence? Numerous candidates available for one-on-one conversation.