Ontario City Council. (ANGELINA KATSANIS/The Enterprise)

UPDATED Aug. 23, 2021.

ONTARIO – Seven Ontario residents submitted applications this week for an open city council position left vacant by the recall of former local lawmaker Freddy Rodriguez.

Only four are still in the running, however: Charlotte Cablay, Susann Mills, James Grissett, and McShane Erlebach. The other three – Cydney Cooke, Margaret Hesse and Adrianna Contreras – submitted but then belatedly withdrew their applications.

The city council will consider the applicants at its regular meeting Aug. 24.

The applicants had to fill out two brief forms, one of which consisted of several short questions and answers to give a sense of their motivations for pursuing the office. 

Cablay, a retired school and business administrator, wrote that she was “detail oriented, very organized, logical thinker and will exhaust all possibilities of a situation for the best outcome.” 

She said that Ontario’s greatest opportunity and greatest challenge lay in how people maintain, or fail to maintain, their properties. 

“Literally cleaning up the yards and streets would make Ontario appear a more desirable place to live and work,” she wrote. “Take advantage of the small town environment and get to know and work with your neighbors in all areas for the benefit of the community.”

Cablay said she had done community service in numerous capacities including as a PTA president, a foster parent and an ambassador to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. 

She has lived in Ontario for 10 months. 

Mills, who owns and manages apartments, pointed out Ontario’s status as a “gateway” to the rest of Oregon as a sign of its growth potential, which she qualified as the city’s greatest opportunity. 

“Growth would bring improvement to the schools-education system,” she wrote. “New business growth would bring job opportunities that could help keep our educated students local. Growth-income would put new recreational entities in our community, which in turn would be a drawing magnet to our city. Income from business growth would help increase our police/fire/airport for protection/transportation.” 

Mills said the greatest obstacle for Ontario was crime, which she proposed addressing through social activities, more affordable housing, maintaining strong law enforcement presence, and increasing curb appeal. 

Mills has been involved in a variety of city activities, including “police, pool/parks/graveyards, budget, prospective employee selection (committees) and other volunteering.”

Grissett, Ontario’s planning commissioner and an engineer, said that Ontario’s greatest opportunity was for economic growth. But he also highlighted the town’s challenges, which he diagnosed as “a lack of housing, career opportunities and a lack of recreation facilities.”

“More family gathering places are needed,” he said. “I would like to entice more millennials and their families to invest in our community and invest in start ups.”

Besides participating in Serve Day, Grissett cited his activities as a builder as part of his community service to Ontario. 

If Grissett were appointed to the city council, he would have to step down from Ontario’s planning commission. 

Erlebach, a real estate company manager, said that Ontario’s greatest opportunity, and its greatest challenge, was the need to attract new businesses. 

“We can do this by developing policies and financial incentives to bring new businesses to town,” he wrote. “Attracting new businesses to Ontario will provide long-term jobs for our residents, leading to growth and prosperity for our families.”

Erlebach said he wanted to become a city councilor to create a better future for his children. 

He said that in terms of community service, he had coached youth sports programs at the Ontario Recreation District for the past three years. 

All candidates will be invited to speak with and answer questions from the council Aug. 24 before the final vote at a future meeting. The date for the final vote is likely to be set at the Aug. 24 meeting.

News tip? Contact reporter Liliana Frankel at [email protected] or 267-981-5577. 

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