MADRAS, OR -- Madras finds itself in a position similar to many small towns in the country, with difficulty recruiting qualified candidates to hold city offices. Voters are instructed to “vote for three” City Councilors on the November ballot, but only one name appears. Mayor Royce Embanks is also running for re-election unopposed.
Mayor Embanks tells KBND News, "We have two Councilors that are not wanting to run again, and they didn’t file. We do have a current Councilor that is already on the ballot, and he got there because he filled an empty spot. So, he had to actually run this term in order to get elected to that position." With Gary Walker likely to win the race to keep his appointed seat and the three other Councilors whose terms aren’t yet up, Embanks says there are enough to establish a quorum so city business can continue.
But the future of the final two seats on the six-seat Council is up for grabs. "They can be filled either by a write-in vote," says Embanks. "If there are enough write-in votes, then they can be asked if they want to be on Council; because it’s possible somebody submitted their names without them knowing. That has happened before and people have declined to serve. In this case, I understand that there is a possible write-in vote but we haven’t heard anything that verifies it." The sixth seat would stay vacant until Councilors can search for the right person to appoint.
Embanks says the struggle to recruit viable candidates is not uncommon in small towns. "You’re looking at a population- if they’re in their 30s and have kids and working a full-time job, they don’t have time to do it. And, as they get older and they get retired, they may have the time to do it but maybe not the inclination to spend that much time. It’s not an easy volunteer position because there are more meetings than just twice a month." And, he says charter restrictions like requiring Councilors to be a registered voter and live inside city boundaries limits the pool of potential candidates.