Meet Your Candidate: Martin Kamenski
Challenger for Council, City of Ashland
In a three way race for City of Ashland City Council Position Number 3, three is definitively company. As part of our continued coverage leading up to local elections, we caught up with Martin Kamenski, who is challenging councilmember Greg Lemhouse.
Rogue Valley Messenger: You have been successful in your business–and currently run a business–why are you wanting to take on extra responsibilities?
Martin Kamenski: I love so much that Ashland has to offer: natural beauty, arts and culture, and a relaxed lifestyle. But sadly this “little slice of paradise” isn’t enjoyed equally by all. We know that students are regularly discriminated against and have difficulty finding housing. We know that there are many residents who struggle just getting around the city because of physical disability. And the events of the last few months have brought to light that people of color who call Ashland home have been made to feel like others, threatened. It’s challenging at times in a community that has a liberal self-image to accept that we can do more to be inclusive here in Ashland. And we need more than just being open to the possibility—we need action. I want to engage in the work of building a more inclusive Ashland. An “Ashland for All.”
RVM: What do you see as the biggest challenge(s) for the City of Ashland in the upcoming four years?
MK: We will need to decide for ourselves what kind of city we want to be, and how big we want to be. We have the unbelievable opportunity to model for the country just how a city makes itself more inclusive of all residents. With riots and brutality so regularly making the news, there is an immense need for this throughout our country. I like to think that we have all the right ingredients in Ashland to build this approach to inclusivity, not the least of which are the open and good-hearted people who live here. As we do this, we have to find a way to make housing more affordable both for students and for young families who want to buy a home and join our community. These are not short-term decisions—they are long-term moves that will build a stronger base of jobs and open Ashland up to new business moving to town.
RVM: How does your background in working with arts and entertainment or accounting inform what issue you will tackle on council?
MK: I’ve spent the majority of my professional career at the intersection of business, arts, and community. Ashland itself is very much in that intersection of business, arts, and community and in that way I find myself at home contemplating these questions. I would want to explore ways to ensure that our cultural assets are building permanent community assets on a regular basis. I would also want to find ways to diversify our economic dependence on this sector of the economy. There are so many ways we can leverage our existing tourist base into new business opportunities for the people of Ashland. As for accounting… I’m not the only accountant running for City Council this year and I think that’s a good thing. In my time in public practice I was never satisfied with looking backwards and “counting the beans.” That’s not what accounting was about for me. I always saw it as a way to continually look for better ways to do the things we were already doing. I’ve reviewed the budget presentation and I have to say that it’s beautifully prepared. But I see a lot of opportunity to question the way we’ve been spending money, allocating contracts, etc. We should never give up on being better and better stewards of the people’s resources.