Who Will Be Medford’s Next Mayor? An interview with candidate Kevin Stine
After nearly two decades, Medford is teed up for a new mayor. All three candidates have solid civic experience–two current council members and one former police chief. We hear from councilmember Kevin Stine about his insights for the upcoming challenges, and what he brings to the job.
Rogue Valley Messenger: Stepping into the mayor’s role right now seems like a very daunting task. It seems like there is more opportunity for blame than for fame. Why do it?
Kevin Stine: It’s interesting you say that, because I think that now is the exact right time to step into the role of Mayor. Having served on the City Council for the past six years, and as Council President for the last year, I have a great understanding of where we are as a City. Beyond that, though, I have the vision for Medford we need as we claw out of the pandemic and, together build better than what we were before COVID-19.
RVM: Can you provide a brief economic forecast for Medford—and one or two policies that you would want to first implement?
KS: I’ll be honest, right now things look grim. We got hit hard by the pandemic, and have not received the assistance we needed from the federal government to provide relief from staff reductions, project delays, and reductions of services.
As Mayor, I will work tirelessly to ensure that we receive the assistance we need from the state and federal governments, but more importantly that we work across sectors to raise our entire community up off the mat and to move forward together. If I’m elected, I will meet with leaders from the for profit, non-profit, educational, and social services sectors and districts to find ways of working together that will help us achieve our collective goals.
One area where we can find ways to collaborate is in addressing the housing problem. I am committed to better housing policies and working with companies and non-profits to find ways to create more housing, especially for working families. As a community we should make it a priority for all of our residents to have access to safe and secure housing.
RVM: What is it like campaigning during COVID?
KS: It’s a challenge. As a candidate, I’m used to attending community events and getting out and meeting people on the street and at their homes. Running for Medford City Council, I would knock on doors and get to feel the pulse of the city through my conversations. Unfortunately, that’s just not an option under the current conditions. So instead I am meeting with people over social media, email, Zoom, and the old reliable telephone! It’s not quite as personal when you aren’t meeting in person, but there is something nostalgic about talking on the phone again, and I think people are responding.
RVM: You are running against the former police chief. With so much interest in city police departments, what is your assessment for how the police have done in Medford—and what is a priority to change?
KS: Overall, I would say that MPD has done a very good job. During my time on the Council we have had three Chiefs of Police and I had a good relationship with each of them. In fact, before I was sworn in in 2014, I had discussions with then-Chief Tim George about body cameras, which we implemented in 2016. They have had a tremendously positive impact on how MPD relates to our community and I’m proud to be part of those efforts.
I participated in the protests in Medford following the murder of George Floyd, and listened to black, indigenous, and other people of color speak about policing in our country, and how they don’t feel safe when they are around law enforcement. I also read the numerous emails we received about the issues regarding policing, and as a nation we need to deal with the systemic issues that continue to plague us. Thankfully, most of the problems that impact larger cities are not problems we usually face in Medford. The community looks favorably at MPD, and I’m proud to serve in elected office for a City where the police are part of the community in partnership.
One of the biggest challenges we face as a community is with the Greenway. People should be able to safely use the Greenway for walking, jogging, and biking, and often that’s just not possible due to the negative activity there. There’s also the huge accumulation of trash that goes into Bear Creek, which is unacceptable. We have to figure out a way to clean up the Greenway that doesn’t involve handing out tickets that will never be paid. There’s a fine line between what is being done, and what should be done, and we haven’t hit it yet. As Mayor, I look forward to working with the police and the rest of the community to solve the Greenway issue.
RVM: Can you pay a compliment to your opponents?
I’ve worked with Randy and I’ve had a good relationship with him, just like I have with the other MPD Chiefs. From what I can tell, he was a dedicated civil servant who did a good job at MPD.
Clay and I have served on the Council together and I have always known him to be a dedicated and thoughtful council member.
RVM: And what sets you most apart from your opponents?
KS: I’m running for Mayor because I care deeply about our community and have a vision of what Medford can become. The next Mayor of Medford needs to be an advocate and spokesperson for our city. That includes meeting with lawmakers in Salem or, in some cases Washington DC to tell the story of Medford, and what it is we need to help us accomplish our goals. It also includes doing the work here at home and being engaged with the community in every way. Randy did a fine job as Chief of Police during the years that he served, and Clay has served admirably on the Council but I don’t think either understands Medford the way I do. I know that I am more prepared to bring the community together, as your Mayor to meet the challenges and opportunities we face moving forward.