The Benton County Elections Office plans to mail out ballots this week for the Nov. 8 general election and in an effort to help voters get to know the candidates a little better, the Philomath News asked each of them five questions.

This is the first of a five-part series of questions and answers to be published this week at Two candidates are running for Philomath mayor — incumbent Chas Jones and challenger Lawrence Johnson.

For more information, the Benton County Elections Office uploaded each candidate’s filing form. Information on the forms include details on occupation, educational background and prior governmental experience. Click here for Jones. Click here for Johnson.

In addition, the Benton County Voters’ Pamphlet is available here.

This is the first of five questions asked of the candidates. Each candidate was allowed no more than 200 words for each individual answer with no exceptions. Answers were edited only for punctuation and typos and to conform to newspaper style guidelines (abbreviations, capitalization, etc.).

What do you envision as the role of the mayor and what do you believe constitutes appropriate and effective citizen representation?

JOHNSON: My vision as mayor is one of trust and stewardship. I believe that the city needs to ensure that every tax dollar collected is used for the benefit of the city, the best value, the best services, the best facilities, the best planning and the best advice.

The mayor is a member of the elected City Council. The mayor is in charge of the agenda, council meetings, signing city documents and represents the city at various civil functions. As an elected official, the mayor’s obligation is to ensure that the city is in compliance with the city charter and various city ordinances. The city charter specifically states that the council is the governing body and everybody who is employed by the city works for the benefit of the citizens one and all.

Effective citizen representation is included in Goal 1 of the statewide planning goals, which I fully endorse.

JONES: The role of mayor is to facilitate a meaningful, respectful and open dialogue between the City Council meetings. As mayor, it falls upon me to use the council rules and norms to attend to city business in an efficient and transparent manner.

The mayor should model effective approaches for council communication and should attempt to coach city councilors on how to be an effective public servant. As an elected official, it is important that we attempt to represent the diverse opinions and viewpoints of the Philomath voters. We were elected by the voters to make decisions on their behalf, when appropriate.

There are some decisions that necessitate going before voters, but there are many that the council is empowered to make. That being said, it is important that elected officials hear from their constituents and take into account the breadth of voices in the community. I offer equal weight to those voices that speak loudest and most often, as I do those that speak to me quietly and in private.

Coming Tuesday: What is your top priority for this city over the length of your public service?

Monday, Oct. 17: What do you envision as the role of the mayor and what do you believe constitutes appropriate and effective citizen representation?
Tuesday, Oct. 18: What is your top priority for this city over the length of your public service?
Wednesday, Oct. 19: Housing developments have been a major issue in Philomath over the past few years. What’s your perspective on what the city needs to do moving forward to avoid some of the pitfalls that have been seen?
Thursday, Oct. 20: City government transparency concerns seem to occasionally surface. Do you believe transparency is an issue? If so, what would you do to fix it? If not, what do you think the city is doing that’s working?
Friday, Oct. 21: Many in the community believe that the candidates have associated themselves with certain other candidates whether it’s through advertising, yard signs or other means. What are your thoughts on these perceived alliances, including the pros and cons of this election strategy?

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.