Jerry Spegman announced on June 19 his candidacy for a seat on the Manzanita City Council in this November’s election. Spegman worked 20 years as a public health policy analyst and advocate and retired to Manzanita in 2018.
As a public health policy advocate, Spegman worked for organizations such as the American Cancer Society.
“In general, I’m familiar with the policy-making process,” Spegman said.
He has done a lot of work with coalitions across the country working on issues like childhood obesity.
Before he was a public health policy advocate, Spegman was a legal aid lawyer. He said he has a wide variety of exposure to day-to-day problems and processes. He worked with the federal government for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Spegman and his wife moved to Oregon in 1995 and lived in Portland for 12 years, making regular visits to Manzanita. They always knew they would retire in Oregon. The couple bought a house in Manzanita in 2016.
Spegman said although he is a newcomer to Manzanita, he has Oregon roots. He added that it can be helpful to have a different perspective in the mix.
“One of the reasons why I’m interested in running in Manzanita is we do have a situation where it appears there is a bit of a disconnect between the current city council and a lot of the citizens here on some pretty fundamental issues,” Spegman said. “What got me really interested in running was the city hall expansion, relocation or rebuilding.”
City council was very enthusiastic of their vision of a new city hall. He said it was startling what a disconnect there was between what city council proposed and what the citizens wanted.
The vote on Bond Measure 29-159 was just 31.5-percent in favor, 131 ‘yes’ to 284 ‘no’ with nearly 78-percent turnout, according to unofficial election results updated in November. Spegman was part of the group that opposed the bond measure to fund the $6.5 million project.
“My sense is that there were good reasons to vote yes,” Spegman said. “The plan itself, proposed by city council, had some merit.”
The proposed bond’s funding mechanism was a 50-cent tax increase per $1,000 of assessed property value. The project includes construction of a city emergency hub, police office, administrative and workspaces, multi-purpose room and a kitchenette with storage spaces. The site selected for the project was the Underhill property, featuring a former school building that sits out of the tsunami inundation zone, unlike the current city hall.
“As we talked about the process of trying to defeat the bond, I just became more familiar with certain individuals that had more history than I with the city and city government,” Spegman said of Randy Kugler, who is also running for a seat on city council, and Scott Galvin, who is running for mayor. “They’re very supportive of me running.”
Spegman said he would not be in the race if it were not for their support and encouragement.
Spegman has lived in Manzanita for three years. He said he would bring a fresh perspective to the city council and that it takes a mix of skills and perspectives to make sure all voices are being heard. There is more that can be done to make sure elected leadership is paying attention to its citizens, he added.
Spegman said Manzanita citizens are generous with their time and willing to contribute. The city hall issue was a big topic everyone was paying attention to.
“Using probably the city hall issue, since it’s still on the front burner, using that as a starting point, but using all issues, we hope to create a culture where its easier for people to not only stand up and offer their opinion, but really feel powered to have an impact on city hall,” Spegman said.
In general, as he becomes more aware of city government, he said it seems to him that there is more than can be done to make sure elected leadership is paying close attention to its citizens.
Spegman said he knows small towns very well. He has worked in 30-35 different states and has had the opportunity to travel and visit people in different communities. Manzanita citizens have time, perspectives and histories that are valuable.
“There’s a lot of talent to this town,” Spegman said.
This is the first time Spegman has run for public office.