This recent political season has been competitive not only on a state level, but also within the city of Ashland. Jill Franko and Robert Kaplin have been campaigning for a seat 4, previously held by Stefani Seddinger on city council. Franko has previously served on Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission. She describes herself as a community organizer and is born and raised in Ashland. Her background is in healthcare and finance. Franko is currently on the Ashland school board, which she says has heightened her knowledge of what this community needs. She feels like she could be a better resource on city council and has a passion for helping the city she grew up in. Her agenda includes addressing the structural deficit in Ashland, by working on budgeting goals and planning out where money is being spent. She also wants to diversify Ashland by enhancing tourist draws like the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the mountain biking trails, and adding on new attractions such as a culinary school. Addressing climate impacts is also on Franko’s list. She wants to fix the climate crisis, while also addressing low-income residents. Steps for this would include weatherizing homes, cutting down on utility bills, offering free public transportation, offering subsidies and rebates for houses that need insulation along with several other steps. In addition to all of these steps, Franko also wants to address mental health support within the city of Ashland. With mental health awareness growing, as well as a recent community suicide, Franko wants to take a stand. She wants to start grant writing and continue to offer support to multiple parts of the community such as; the police, senior center, and nonprofits throughout Ashland.
Robert Kaplin also has many ideas for how to enhance the community of Ashland. He has not grown up in Ashland, but feels as if his experience in other areas of the world have only helped him gain experience. He has a career working with the World Bank across Latin America and worked hard to provide technical expertise of financing to work through many kinds of problems but his decision to run on city council is part of a lifetime of public service. He says that for the council to be successful they have to look broadly into the future, starting with stabilizing the city’s government by filling the 50 staff vacancies. Then he plans on providing a top tier infrastructure including fixing the Community Center and Pioneer Hall. Similarly to Franko, he wants to address climate change while catering to low income families. In addition, he wants to diversify the city’s economy by boosting tourism by cooperating with the Bear Creek Corridor and improving Ashland golf courses.
Along with these two candidates, running for position 4 on city council; there are two other positions, 2 and 6 open. Position 2 will be held by either Tonya Graham or Jon Merripen and position 6 will be held by Linda Peterson Adams or James E. Falkenstein. All of these elections along with Mayor elections and several other positions will be finalized on November 3rd. In the meantime, Franko and Kaplin are doing everything to gain votes. They have had live panels at Ashland High School, attended forums, and went door to door to talk with community members. It is extremely important for Ashland Residents, young and old, to be educated on who they are voting for, especially when it comes to hot button elections such as Franko versus Kaplin.