Meet Your Candidate: Greg Lemhouse
Incumbent Councilmember, City of Ashland
Greg Lemhouse is a two-term city council member, and now he has two challengers vying for his seat. What gives? As part of our continued coverage leading up to local elections, we caught up with councilor Lemhouse. More interviews are available at our website, RogueValleyMessenger.com.
Rogue Valley Messenger: After eight years as a council member, what do you feel is your biggest achievement so far?
Greg Lemhouse: Since my election in 2008, the Ashland City Council has established a winter shelter program, built affordable housing, established enterprise and e-commerce overlay zones to encourage growth of local businesses, worked to protect our watershed by completing critical phases of our Ashland Forest Resiliency plan, established the Ashland Climate and Energy committee to create a community-based plan to address the impacts of, and potential for mitigating, climate change, and expanded our fair-housing ordinance to protect against discrimination.
RVM: What would you say to a voter who says you’ve been in office for 8 years, isn’t it time to give someone else a chance?
GL: Change for change sake disregards and minimizes the importance of job performance. If voters do not like the direction of a particular elected official, or more broadly, local, state, or national office holders, an election allows for that opinion to be heard.
RVM: What three adjectives would you use to describe the current council?
GL: Committed, earnest, progressive
RVM: What is your “calling card” issue for this campaign?
GL: I think people who know me understand my commitment to Ashland, the Ashland School District, the many non-profits I’ve worked with to help those needing a “hand-up” and my role as a problem solver, rather than a person pushing an agenda.
RVM: Can you pay a compliment to your challenger(s)?
GL: Anyone that puts themselves out there and runs for public office should be respected. The decision to seek a post at the council level, without having served first on a board or commission, shows a lot of courage.
RVM: What do you see as the biggest challenge(s) for the City of Ashland in the upcoming four years?
GL: Infrastructure: Postponing upgrades to aging infrastructure leads to higher costs for improvements and replacements which in turn creates a greater burden for the taxpayers. Overall upkeep of roads reduces replacement costs thereby helping Ashland to be more affordable.
Social Inequity: We need to address some of social issues that we in Ashland believe may not directly affect us. Discrimination is real and alive in our town and the Council should be diligent in trying to eradicate it.
Economy: We need to continue to grow local businesses and implement strategies to encourage businesses to start in Ashland.
Housing: Rental inventory is shrinking rapidly as housing costs go up. To meet this challenge there is a lot we’re doing right but more we could do to help. For example, encouraging in-fill, where infrastructure already exists, helps keep development costs down. Similarly, building or redeveloping housing over commercial buildings offers affordable housing close to schools, bus lines and real food. Meanwhile, the city can help by building up the Ashland Land Trust in order to offer more affordable housing. Finally, we should address policies that will protect renters.
RVM: If you were a character on the Simpsons (or chose a favorite TV show), who would that be?
GL: I think there is a little bit of every Simpson in all of us, but I would probably be Marge. I have always been a person that tries to fix the problems and protect others, but I am not sure I could pull off the blue hair as well as she does.