Interview with George Kramer
Updated: Oct 13, 2022
Why are you running/what do you believe you bring to the table?
As a long-term resident of Ashland, I care deeply for its future and I'm excited for the bright opportunities happening right now and just around the corner. And I think I bring a collaborative skill set to the table that's needed in the Council and City government. I've lived in Ashland for 30 years and came of age in this town. I attended the University and have been a renter, a dishwasher, a builder, a writer, and now a family-man with a successful business. My experience as a successful business-person is well-rounded, being the founder and CEO the last 12 years. And it's not just budgets and financial experience, it's a lot of human resource management and knowing how to work with the City to build hundreds of solar projects in town that are successfully generating megawatts of clean solar power. I also have eight years of board experience with the Oregon Solar + Storage Industry Association as their Treasurer that I bring with me as well. Through the years I managed ups and downs coupled with near crashes and incredible booms that different economic forces and events have shaped for our history. I'm particularly excited to run for City Council right now because we have opportunities at the intersection between outdoor recreation and diversification of the tourism economy which the City can influence. I believe the city is ripe for change and I’m anxious to collaboratively work toward implementing new directions. I'm also excited to do the capital improvement work around sustainability and growth, both equally important for our safety and future success. I also believe there are opportunities for growth in the housing market that could help alleviate the affordable housing challenges.
What do you think is Ashland’s biggest opportunity/advantage?
Our biggest opportunity is economic development using outdoor recreation sectors. Expansion of our robust trail system for mountain biking and general access, which is being conducted in many towns around the west, could be a huge economic boon for Ashland. This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, rather creative thinking, and collaborative approaches.
What was the best decision by the City Council in the past two years?
Last night Tuesday, September 20, 2022, City Council approved the Talent Ashland Phoenix “TAP” master plan adoption. That was great progress and I applaud it. Council also voted unanimously to adopt the public art project “Crystallizing our Call" which I'm also very proud they moved forward.
What was the worst?
Earlier this year Council voted “No” on a rate increase for Recology that was counter to its contract with the City. I think that vote put us in legal jeopardy, but luckily it was overturned in the next Council meeting and approved. Near as I can figure though, it was voted against because some Councilors didn't base the decision on facts, but rather an ideology that they bring to decision-making that's an automatic: “No" on increased taxes and fees. It's that kind of pre-conceived agenda that is frustrating the citizens of Ashland. I think a lot of us are fed up with all the “No” votes and we want to see projects move forward and our city services improved and bolstered for safety and progress'. I’m going to come to the table with an open mind and make fact-based decisions. And I hope this next Council is better at doing that.
What, if any, changes to Ashland’s land development code, would you like to see?
I think a big issue right now I hear from developers is that people are using buildings differently now than we were in the past. So, I think we need to do an analysis of where the pinch points are so we can free up more residential use in areas of commercial that are being underutilized. And I also think that the City will benefit from identifying where we can best install utility scale solar to not only meet our climate goals, but also lower our city’s overhead and operating expenses to free up funds to do other things. With all the Federal Inflation Reduction Act grant money available it will be wise of us to put our money where our mouth is and install a right-Ashland-sized system in the near future.
If elected, how will you try to connect with citizens about the issues? I think Ashland citizens are starving for both more dialogue, and straight information downloads from and with the city. I will keep my schedule open for regular meetings, and I’m really good about answering phone calls and emails. But I'd like to see the City improve the Website for better communications. And now that we're getting through this Covid pandemic I'd like to see us have Town Halls and other interactive forums.