"Honesty and integrity in government give power to the people, which is the bedrock for my campaign for Medford City Council for Ward 1.  Upon election, my goal is to be a vocal steward of the people in Ward 1  from the very start."

Sarah's PLATFORM

WHY I'M RUNNING FOR MEDFORD CITY COUNCIL

As a tested leader of organizations in the community, I am the right choice for City Council. My ability to listen to and communicate with everyone in Medford equally, and my commitment to ensuring all voices are heard, will guarantee that our city continues to thrive, not just for those who are already successful, but for our most vulnerable as well.

The way we get to prosperity is not through back-room deals. In 2018, when Council voted to rezone to commercial the property now slated for a 24/7 Circle K Gas Station and Car Wash, timely notice was not given to the residents of even the immediate homes next door. I will not let that happen again. My Ward will be notified to the greatest extent possible when important issues that affect their daily lives are brought to a vote before the Council.

My values prioritize transparency in our government, integrity, and follow-through on commitments I make to constituents. Every politician says they they are honest. Well, I'll say it too, and people I have worked for, worked with, and supervised will back up my word. Please click on the Endorsements tab for a closer look.

I apologize in advance to people intending to buy my vote on Council. I am running in this race to represent my neighbors, not take advantage of them.

I have received the support of our brave local Fire Fighters, Union leaders responsible for workers' rights, and many respected community members. But I am committed to amplifying all our voices, so that decisions are made that the people of Medford want and need. 

I have found success in diplomacy and policymaking, and I possess the skillset needed to collaborate with the Council, get the work done, and help determine the direction of our City.

Medford needs more representation from people like me and my neighbors, and their families, who understand firsthand the challenges our neighborhood and our city are facing.

I am the only candidate of a generation experiencing the baseline obstacles to success that the last several decades of policy changes have brought us. We face significant barriers to affording a good education without going into debt, finding opportunities to train for great careers, raising a family comfortably, and reaching our goals of owning a home or otherwise realizing our dreams. We will be raising our children often in multi-generational households. Our parents and grandparents need more resources, education, and options for seniors. I will advocate strongly for solutions that recognize these challenges, with the goal of prosperity for Medford's individuals and families.
 

COVID-19 & SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESSES
Especially during times of crisis, cities are responsible for stepping up to ensure that our community continues to thrive. Finding ways to support our small businesses is integral to making that happen.
 
The way we will support small businesses is through transparency, cooperation and outreach that involves everyone in the Valley.
Medford City Council was wise to approve the Small Business Assistance grant program. I support the continuation of this program, with frequent assessments of the needs of our local businesses, assigning staff to assist with SBA grant or loan applications.
The City should prioritize reaching out to small businesses in Medford, particularly those owned by minorities. What resources do they need to keep the lights on and the doors open? We can connect businesses to other organizations that can help.
The city ought to provide a central repository of resources for local businesses: quick-reference guides on federal and state guidelines, resources for how and where to apply for SBA loans, and consultation on other resources necessary for running a business in this constantly-shifting situation. Temporarily waiving business taxes and preventing utility shut-offs are measures City Council can take that will provide relief to our community's small businesses.
WILDFIRES & EMERGENCY RESPONSE
The dedication and exceptional efforts of our First Responders on the Almeda and Obenchain fires prevented our communities from being destroyed more than they were.

 

It has become clear that the Rogue Valley has a lot of work to do to improve our emergency response system. The notification process and evacuation plans for our residents here in Jackson County were inadequate.

 

Most of us have listened to our neighbors' accounts of their harrowing experiences with evacuation and staying safe: little to no notice of the fire, a struggle to find a route to safely evacuate. The up-to-the-minute information I was able to find was through Twitter accounts and news stations, not from a County emergency alert service. Not everyone can depend on being alerted this way. We know we must improve our disaster response. I will work with the County and other communities in the Valley to evaluate our needs, and ensure that, when faced with an emergency, proper notification and evacuation plans are in place.
 
Medford’s local Fire Fighters and First Responders have valuable insight to provide: I will reach out to listen to their ideas of how to keep our community safe in the future. The Medford Fire Department is operating at a staffing deficit. We need to have training available to increase staffing and expertise for Fire and all other emergency response services, including communications services.  It is imperative that we expand our capacity to fight wild or urban fires that should arise in our area in the coming years. This should be a top priority for all councilors.
HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS
My time spent as a Tenant Education Specialist with the Community Alliance of Tenants, and on the Housing and Human Services Commission of the city of Ashland, has provided me with an expert's perspective on the housing crisis many of us face. I remain a Council Member on the Community Alliance of Tenants and am a fierce advocate for those experiencing housing challenges in Medford.
To many people, homelessness seems like a monolithic issue, impossible to get our heads around. When passersby see a person living outdoors, they tend to assume that the person is on drugs, or too lazy to go out and find a job. What many people don’t realize is how close the average American is from losing the roof over their head, and in Medford, it’s even worse.

 

Twenty percent (over 15 thousand) of our residents live at or below the poverty level, according to 2017 US Census Bureau data. Many are essential workers who are working 12- and 18-hour days at minimum wage jobs. Our poverty rate is almost 6% higher than the national average. Let that sink in. One in five of our neighbors lives in poverty.
Medford's home ownership rate is 13% below the national average - almost 50% of Medford rents. Out of all our renters, 30% pay half their paychecks to a landlord. To say there is a housing crisis in Medford is a huge understatement.

Nationally, we have seen statistics that say most Americans would not even be able to afford to pay an unexpected $600 bill. When we think about Medford’s homeless crisis, we have to consider how many of our neighbors are currently on the brink. 

 

Now that hundreds of our neighbors' homes have been lost, and the potential for more fires is on the way this season and the next, we have to think about how to protect our residents from becoming homeless - we have to understand how this crisis came to be, and make compassionate interventions as we work to fix it.
 
Other cities have shown that it is possible to solve homelessness. Medford can certainly become the next to do so.
 
We need to look at successful models wherever they can be found. Because the City of Medford has succeeded in improving lives through transitional housing models like Hope Village, as well as the temporary urban campground, we should build on these programs. We can provide jobs by building new structures with more capacity. Adding more beds is essential right now. Looking to successes in other cities similar to ours needs to start now and continue until everyone in Medford has a roof over their heads.
 
Our mental health and substance abuse disorder support systems must be expanded. When someone with these issues lacks the necessary resources for survival, it's almost impossible to receive housing or stay housed.
 
Medford City Council could consider the benefits of joining the Built for Zero program. This program focuses heavily on real-time data about the houseless, collaboration of community partners, and implementing innovative housing models. More than 80 cities have signed on nationally, including many with comparable populations to that of Medford, and have seen a reduction in houselessness.
 
By supporting projects like these, and including union-supported, high-quality Project Labor Agreement incentives, we will be able to build low-income housing and transitional housing, remodel or repurpose vacant structures, and build more tiny house villages like the successful Hope Village project. We can end homelessness in the Rogue Valley.
HEALTHCARE IS A HUMAN RIGHT
Our healthcare system needs to work for each of us.
As a member of the Elections and Nominations Committee of Healthcare for All Oregon, I am experienced in healthcare policy proposals - I lobbied successfully for the creation of an independent committee to research the potential institution of a single-payer healthcare system for Oregonians (see more of the organization's work at www.HCAO.org).
 
The fact is, our current system has been allowed to become a profit center for incentivizing poor health. At the same time, life-saving medicines and procedures are routinely denied by insurance companies if they can't make a profit off them. We know this is true because most of us, or our friends or families, have experienced not going to the doctor because we don't have the money to pay - even insurance benefits provided at work are getting fewer and fewer, even as premiums and deductibles go higher. This system has taken so much from our potential, and our quality of life. The needs of our neighbors have been going unmet for far too long.
 
Mental illness and substance use disorder are major illnesses in Medford and Jackson County. There are inadequate resources to provide the needed care. During this pandemic, as unemployment continues to rise throughout our country, mental illness and substance use disorders are increasing. The resources available are already strained and cannot support the need in our community without more funding and support; those resources are not accessible to everyone, either. Dealing with this will require community effort.
I will listen to the people of Medford, and consult trusted experts, as we look for ways to increase mental health services and senior services in Southern Oregon. I will continue to support Health Care for all Oregonians.
PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT

To make certain that this planet is habitable for our children and grandchildren, the United States must lead the world in tackling climate change. Our cities are the starting point for transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward efficiency and sustainability. In order to sustain life, our transportation and electrical grid must be 100% renewable by 2030. Our economy needs to be decarbonized by 2050. We won't survive if we cannot find a way to make these necessary changes.

But we can, if we work together.

Our cities need to meet energy conservation goals, lobbying other local and state governments to do the same. Medford can be a model for making this happen. The Rogue Valley and our neighbors to the north and south who have fallen victim to destruction by fires, and worsening smoke every year, know that when it comes to climate change, inaction is a weapon of mass destruction. 

In Southern Oregon, we regularly face water insecurity. Medford needs to find more ways to improve water sequestration and promote ongoing conservation. Cities employ different strategies to educate their communities about water usage. For instance, many renters are not responsible for their water bill, so they never see information regarding water usage. Residents of Medford can be educated on the water and energy they are using, through improved communication efforts by our Water department. We can prioritize participating in water conservation public relations campaigns, akin to the US Forest Service’s Smokey Bear campaign, so the residents of Medford, young and old, can be educated about water conservation and other aspects of climate conservation.

It is essential that municipalities be vigilant in preventing the privatization of our water sources.

WORKERS RIGHTS & THE JOBS WE NEED NOW

No worker should be denied access to safety, health, or fair pay.

Everyone can see that the minimum wage for the hard work that keeps our community running needs to be at least $15 an hour. The City of Medford should ensure that everyone who works for the City or on a City contract should be paid a minimum of $15.

If my husband had been able to use his Biology degree for gainful employment here in Southern Oregon, we would not have had to move away from the Rogue Valley to find work. Had there been more emphasis on Career Technical Education in his high school, he might have started his career as an electrician much sooner. I am proud that the Medford School District is able to offer a CTE Pathways program that focuses on technical skills training for the high-demand 21st century job market. I welcome any opportunity to continue to fund and support CTE , not only for the youth of our community, but also for job redesign and continued training for new roles. With our continued support, these programs will be able to grow and flourish, providing our community with technicians and tradespersons who are prepared for a great job on day one.

The job protections we enjoy today are the result of years of brave union workers’ efforts— many have died for these rights, and I have benefitted from their sacrifice. Upon election, my goal is to be a vocal steward of union workers’ principles. Employees should always be allowed to collectively organize or join a union without retaliation.

Union contracts ensure the highest level of workers’ safety and the highest quality work, which is why I support Project Labor Agreements as we build improvement projects, affordable housing, and other infrastructure.

I support leveling the playing field for our working families, and have consistently supported union efforts in the Rogue Valley.

INVESTMENT IN CITY INFRASTRUCTURE

I will represent those in my ward by supporting city investment in infrastructure, for the safety and health of all of us.

Medford's infrastructure - our roads and bridges, electrical grid, and internet services - has been neglected. The city has not utilized advances in technology to the fullest extent, for maintenance and improvements. Regionally, we are long overdue to rebuild these public goods.

 

After studying Medford’s budget, I came away with concerns about our water lines and bridges. But this pandemic has shone a light on another concern: the need to drastically improve internet availability. Our families and seniors - and this is especially relevant to those of us living below the poverty level - need to stay connected to services and their community. Without internet access, students currently cannot even attend school. It is time to regulate internet and broadband services as utilities and make internet services available to everyone.

© 2020 by Committee to Elect Sarah Spansail. Created with Wix.com