ONTARIO — Six people from Ontario turned in their application by the Aug. 18 deadline for the vacant seat on the Ontario City Council. The term for the seat, previously held by Freddy Rodriguez, who was recalled by electors in July, is through Dec. 13, 2022.
In an email Thursday morning, City Recorder Tori Barnett attached the applications for Charlotte Cablay, Adrianna Contreras, Cydney Cooke, McShane Erlebach, James Grissett, and Margaret Hesse. Cooke led the campaign for the Rodriguez recall campaign.
The candidates will be invited to attend the City Council’s next meeting on Tuesday. At the meeting each will be given an opportunity to address the council regarding their request to be considered to fill the seat, and the Council will also have the chance to ask questions of the candidates. Along with the applications, applicants had to fill out a questionnaire.
Information follows from those applications and questionnaires.
Cablay has lived in Ontario since Oct. of 2020. According to her application, she has served as a volunteer for Revitalize Ontario since March, and joined the Rotary Club this month and has served in numerous other community service positions, as well as fostered eight children.
She retired in 2018 from working in administration for school and business.
Cablay says she applied for the council because “I believe a fresh set of eyes and ears can infuse the board with a renewed spirit and energy,” adding that she would “exhaust all possibilities of a situation for the best outcome.”
Cablay says she wants to take a vested interest in cleaning up and revitalizing the community to make Ontario a more desirable place to live and work, and pointed out the need to keep evolving “to be relevant in the 21st century.”
Contreras has lived in Ontario for 14 years, is a medical assistant at Valley Family Health and says she applied for the position because, “I want to make Ontario better again.” Contreras said “the greatest opportunity for Ontario is growth and bettering our community,” and that the greatest challenge is to unite to “make better choices,” saying these things need to be done for our children.
She applied for the vacancy because, “I believe a fresh new face with ideas can be beneficial to our community.”
Contreras says she has volunteered at Serve Day and multiple fundraisers for community members, and is currently applying to be on Citizens on Patrol.
Cooke has lived in Ontario for six years, is the CFO of J&C Natural Energy, and says she loves this community. She serves on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and Friends of the Aquatic Center. She also led the campaign for the recall of Rodriguez.
Cooke says Ontario has room for “mass expansion” due to being uniquely positioned as a small town near the Boise metropolitan area.
She also said the greatest challenge the city faces is trust in the youth and that the city needs a balance of young and seasoned leaders, and that she, personally, wants to be part of something that matters.
Cooke has ran for multiple boards in Ontario before, including most recently the Ontario City Council and Treasure Valley Community College Board of Directors.
Erlebach did not disclose how long he has lived in Ontario, but states that he has been the manager of Bleacher Holdings since January of 2018. He says Ontario’s greatest opportunity is also its greatest challenge: how to attract new businesses, pointing out that new businesses will lead to jobs, growth and prosperity. Erlebach says the council “must establish supportive business policies and build relationships with business owners,” adding that those who feel connected to the community will stay.
He says he wants to help make Ontario a better Community and that he wants to lead Ontario toward growth and prosperity for the sake of children.
Erlebach says he has served for three years coaching youth sports programs for the Ontario Recreation District.
Grissett has lived in Ontario for just over 13 years, and is the senior infrastructure engineer for Taos and the owner of GHS Construction, a general contracting company and Guardian Real Estate Management and Holdings, a development company. He says he has built an assortment of homes recently and currently serves on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, a position he would step down from if appointed to the vacant seat.
Grissett says he would like to continue work he started in developing neglected areas of town, and finding opportunities to regenerate areas that need growth by serving on the council.
He says there is opportunity for more economic growth and development, adding that the greatest challenge is a lack of housing, career opportunities and recreational facilities to entice younger generations to the area.
Hesse has lived in Ontario for about 15 years, and is a CNA works as a home health aide for Canyon Home Care and Hospice.
She has previously been a Sunday School teacher, served on the Church of the Nazarene board and led songs. She was also a member of the Malheur County Dairy Wife club and the leader of the dairy club in 4-H.
Hesse says in recent months, she has become more concerned with the direction the country seems to be heading, and subsequently more interested in the government of Ontario.
“I have never really had anything to do with government, but I think I can represent the view of the ordinary citizens of this city,” Hesse says.
She says there are a lot of people who are moving into the area, giving business a chance to grow, but pointed out that “we need to keep our farms going, too.”
The greatest challenge Hesse sees is keeping local businesses open and thriving, the community safe and a good water supply.
After the interviews at the meeting on Tuesday, the City Council will decide who to pick. During its July 27 meeting, the council decided that it would also gather public feedback from citizen comments regarding the candidates on its Facebook page, where its meetings are broadcast live. The council said it would then consider the feedback on those candidates “for a couple weeks,” with the aim of picking an applicant at its Sept. 14 meeting.
Having the council ultimately decide on who to pick for the seat is one of four options it could have taken. Other options that could have been used to fill the seat are taking the highest vote-getter from the last General Election, doing nothing and waiting for the next election, or holding a special election.