Talking with Oroville Mayor and City Council candidates

OROVILLE – All positions open at the top of Oroville city government have challengers this upcoming Tuesday, Nov. General Election. Chris Allen is challenging Chuck Spieth for the top spot at mayor, Russell Round challenges Jon Neal for Position 1 and Paul Bouchard challenges Tony Koepke for Position 2. The Gazette-Tribune asked the candidates to give us a little information about themselves, why they’re running and what issues are important to them.

Oroville Mayor (four-year term)

C.F. ‘Chuck’ Spieth

Chuck Spieth

Chuck Spieth

Tell us about yourself:

I have lived in Oroville all my life and have been married to my wife Emily for over 50 years. Always interested in my community, I was appointed to the City Council in October 1992 and served in that position until I became Mayor in January 2002. My career includes 20 years in municipal law enforcement and I have owned and operated an insurance agency for the last 22 years.

 Why do I want to be re-elected?

I want to continue working with and for my community as we face funding and revenue declines, while the “wants” and demands for service increase. I would like to see several projects that the city has recently started become realities. I’m particularly proud of how the city has handled assuming ownership and has expanded operations of Osoyoos Lake Veteran’s Memorial Park; the city’s involvement with the Similkameen Trailhead project; Main Street sidewalk improvements for pedestrian safety and the installation of perimeter safety fencing and helipads at the airport.

What are three issues facing our city?

It’s not easy to select just three, but those that come to mind most quickly are:

  1. Promoting economic stabilization and development to not only create but to help keep family wage jobs here in town;
  2. The maintenance, replacement and expansion of the city’s infrastructure systems so that economic stabilization and growth can happen; and
  3. To continue to find ways to operate quality criminal justice and emergency response services with today’s declining revenue source base. Police, Fire and Ambulance Services consume a substantial portion of city income. The costs of the criminal justice system are huge; therefore, we need to ensure that the limited numbers of officers we are able to support are effective and well trained. The same is true with Oroville ambulance and fire departments. We rely on a system of volunteers so we need to ensure that those citizens that step up to do the work are well supported with training and equipment. Attracting and maintaining quality police and emergency response personnel also requires care in selection and hiring to avoid turning what may appear to be a valuable asset into a serious liability. We have an excellent team of officers and volunteers here. As we grow, I believe we will attract an even greater team of health and safety professionals.

City officials and staff work constantly trying to find ways to operate as efficiently as possible without always having to raise or impose new taxes and fees, but it isn’t that easy with today’s funding challenges and loss of state shared revenues.

So, I need to add a 4th issue, which is probably the most important of all: Oroville has been able and needs to continue to be able to operate in a sound, financially responsible fiscal manner. No one wants Oroville to become one of those bankrupt communities that we all read about, nor do we want to have to start laying off people or cutting back on services due to the lack of funds. Our community is relying on us to do that for them. If re-elected, I will continue to work with the city staff to maintain a cooperative and robust effort to improve our economy, our parks and trail systems, expand educational opportunities and to make this community a safer, more comfortable place to live.

Chris Allen

Election-Chris-Allen

Chris Allen

Hello my name is Chris Allen and I am running against Chuck Spieth for your mayor. I was born in Tonasket and grew up in Oroville. I have always known I would raise my children here. I have a wife Heather, one daughter Bailee, two sons Cacey, and Hunter. I am currently an EMT with Tonasket Emergency Medical Services.

Why do I want to be elected?

I am very concerned with challenges facing our community today. I am seeking the office of mayor as to be a driving factor for answers and solutions to the public safety crisis facing our community. I believe we have a great opportunity to push change for our future. We will have to work together as a community if we are to move forward. My immediate concerns are public safety, accountability, and availability. I want the people to know their opinion matters to me. I want them to know that I am available and interested in their concerns. I will investigate them immediately.

What are three issues facing our city?

  1. The need for additional qualified EMTS for our local ambulance service to improve response times (not first responders) your current council recently approved a class be given for first responders, however, this does not address the underlying problem which is the lack of EMT’S. Since a first responder must be accompanied by a state certified EMT at all times. The correct class for us is an (EMT Basic class).
  2. An internal review of our city to improve public service and accountability.
  3. I will be meeting with our local housing authority. I will be asking for help with a study with the intent of placing an senior assisted living facility in our community.

 Council Position 1 (four-year term)

 Jon Robert Neal

 Elections-Jon-NealTell us about yourself:

I’m married to my wife Traci and we have three children Tiffany, Chelsea and Zachary and four grandchildren. He currently holds the post on the Oroville City Council in Position 1 and is a member of the Masonic Lodge, as well as the Oroville Booster Club. Neal has owned his own business, Neal Auto Body and Glass for 22 years. He has volunteered as a coach for youth football,youth football, basketball, baseball and hockey. He has also served as a volunteer fireman with the Oroville Fire Department for the past seven years.

“All of which gives me an insight to the economic, cultural and civic issues in our community,” said the candidate.

Why do you want to be re-elected?

“I’d like to get elected to continue to improve the City of Oroville, I was born and raised here and feel we need to find ways to improve without putting an undue burden on those that live here.”

What are three issues facing our city?

  1. Continued expansion and/or improvement of Lake Osoyoos Veterans Memorial Park.
  2. Looking for ways to bring people to Oroville whether through tourism or permanently by attracting new forms of employment, and
  3. Looking for affordable ways to continue the services we have in the ever changing economy.

Russell R. Rounds

Russell Rounds

Russell Rounds

Tell us about yourself:

I have been a resident of the Oroville area since the early 1980′s. I graduated high school from Oroville. I am married to my wife Sandi and we have three boys AJ, Russell Jr, And Marcus. Our three boys all graduated from Oroville High School. I have been proud to call Oroville my home and have always believed to give back to my community. I am a volunteer fireman for Oroville, and have also served as an E.M.T on the Oroville Ambulance.

Why do you want to be elected?

I am running for City Council because I believe Oroville has some issues that need to be addressed and corrected immediately to insure the safety of our community. I also believe that every citizen of this community has the right to be heard and there questions and or concerns answered and addressed.

What are three issues facing our city?

  1. Public safety – Make sure we have essential personal and equipment needed for the safety of the community.
  2. Zoning and Development- Challenging the Cities balance for new growth as well as maintaining the cities character.

 Council Position 2 (four-year term)

 Anthony ‘Tony’ Koepke

Tony Koepke

Tony Koepke

Tell us about yourself:

I was born and raised here. I am married to my wife Peggy and we raised our children here. I worked for Heavy Pack for many years, then worked for Chamberlin Distributing and then for David Simpson in the evenings and at the reload in Tonasket. I also served on the fire department for many years before retiring in May of 2006.

Why do you want to be re-elected?

I want to save the city money and make sure the people get their monies worth for their tax dollar. I hate to see money wasted.

What are three issues facing your city?

  1. Try and get more business and industry to our area. I want to see the storefronts reopened and bring back jobs. I want us to work on something for the kids to do too. There was so much to do when I was a kid, we used to have a movie house and a drive-in, among other things.
  2. I am constantly working on improving the ambulance situation. We need more volunteers for the ambulance crew.
  3. I would like to see continued improvements to Veterans Park.

 Paul E. Bouchard

Paul E. Bouchard

Paul E. Bouchard

Tell us about yourself:

I am running for a position on Oroville City Council. I have lived in Oroville since 2000. My wife’s name is Lenore and my dog is Jackson. I have been a volunteer for Oroville ambulance department for five years.

Why do you want to be elected?

Over the years I keep hearing members of this community stating that we need a chance. By being a member of the council I hope to find out why our local business keep closing and what can be done to help if any.

What are three issues facing our city?

Over the years it seams that it is easer to find drugs in this community. I would be proud to put a stop to this. We also need to improve our Ambulance service by finding a way to increase the numbers of volunteers and keeping them.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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