Lloyd Elling is the third person to throw his cap into the mayoral race in 2011 for the Town of Ocean View. Having retired from residential care for adults with special needs, he said he hopes to bring his business savvy to good use, if elected.
“I’m skilled enough to be an organizer. I’m skilled enough to know the rules of parliamentary procedure. I think I’ll be a good spokesperson for the town,” he said. “I have an outgoing personality. I’m fun, alive. I see the good things in people, and I tend to focus on it. I can be firm if I need to be.
“The point is, we need to have our town healthy, happy and progressive, because if we’re going to deal with this economy that is in the pits right now,” he said, “we’re going to have to focus on our town, because there’s not much we can do about it.
“So am I your traditional accountant coming to do this business? Am I your traditional police officer? No, I’m not that authoritarian guy. I’m the entrepreneur. I’m the small-businessman. I’m a promoter. You have to sell your business. You have to sell your skills, and you have to solve your problems.”
Elling said he knows that a lot of focus has been put on the town’s budget and tax increases and he credited opponent George Pickrell for doing work on the issue.
“The budget is obviously a big item. I thought Mr. Pickrell’s presentation the other night was very well done. I thought he obviously spent a lot of time. He has a committee that’s working on it with him. They’ve been involved before, and they’ve been big advocates for cutting the budget, and some of their ideas are very good.”
As for his own budgetary ideas, Elling said he is against tax increases and would like to focus on getting the town back to its healthy financial state.
“I do think that we probably should not get involved with raising our property tax rate,” he said. “We’re trying to get properties moving, get Realtors back to work, and we’ve got to keep a balance so we can get this going in our community, so I’m not in a hurry to see anything go up,” he said.
“If anything, we may want to take a step back,” Elling said, “just because we want to communicate that we do have low taxes here, we have great homes that are on the market — let’s get the sales going again, let’s get the transfer tax going again. I mean, Ocean View was healthy to its maximum when the transfer tax return was high, so we have to get back to that point again and not put any additional burden on property owners.”
As for John West Park, Elling said he believes it shows the future of the town and plans to support improvements fully.
“I love the little park in Ocean View. You get to go down and see lots of young families, and we need young families – that’s part of the future,” he said. “If you don’t have young families, us old guys and gals are going to be gone in the next 20 years. So who’s going to be taking our place? So, to see the young families there, I see a future. I think we should keep that, keep it active and involved. I will be a supporter of the town park.”
Elling said he enjoys the idea of the town’s Homecoming event but that he would like to see it redefined.
“I don’t mind the Homecoming, but they’re, again, specific to a given period in time, economic group, the whole works. If you want to have a Homecoming, let’s bring everybody home.
“So I’d like to see them widen their definition of Homecoming,” he said. “I think having a party, a town celebration, is always a good idea. It makes people dance, sing, talk, merge with one another and have a good time.
“But they’ve got a pretty good stronghold under the town council,” Elling noted. “This appears to be a political marriage of some sort. If I’m the mayor, I won’t be married to the group, but I will be supportive of them continuing. I think it’s a good thing, but it has to be wider in scope to fit me.”
As for the council’s talks about building a public works building on property recently leased to the town by the Freeman Companies, Elling said he supports it but would like to have more conversations about the building’s design.
“I have thought that it was foolish all this time to not have a public works building. We have a lot of equipment. We have people who work very hard. They’re, again, part of our town staff, and they deserve some place that is functional. I think council is right to build a structure there for the Department of Public Works and that we got that missing element in our town solved.
“Now, how big that building needs to be? That’s a good question and a great debate to be had. So we do it quickly, but let’s have the debate first. Do they have a design already set up and ready to go? Is that more cost-effective to go that way? But I do support that element.”
Elling said he plans to focus on promoting town businesses, in order to bring more business in, and on having a good working relationship with businesses.
“I think Route 26 from [Lord Baltimore Elementary School] all the way up to the canal, that could be an attractive market. Some of the businesses are here because all these tourists go by, but we don’t really say to those tourists, ‘Hey, this is Ocean View. You want to come and visit here. You want to stop here!’ And I think we need to do more of that for the business community,” he said.
“I can speak the language. I understand the drive. I am a businessman. I understand what they’re trying to do,” he said. “I can understand that they’re trying to employ people, and I understand that’s the need we have. So I’m going to be partners with the business community, and I will listen to things that we can do and how we can improve it.”
In his opinion, Elling said, there also has to be a balance in advocating for the town’s residents, as well.
“We have to find more ways to limit the amount of traffic, because the summer traffic is an annoying feature. There’s got to be ways we can manage summer traffic. I think it can be done. I don’t know all the ideas of how we can solve it, because people have to have freedom of movement.”
If elected, Elling said he would also like to focus some of his time on altering the voting process, in order to make it more inclusive.
“Right now, this style of voting is too constrictive. It reduces the numbers. It’s easier for the political groups to manage election if they know lower numbers,” he said. “The bigger the numbers, the more complicated it gets. So I think the politicians have created a design to compact it more.
“The other thing is that we make it oriented toward election officials and politicians. ‘You vote this way because it enhances what I want,’ as opposed to the need of the voter. The needs of the voter is to have some flexibility when they can vote. Right now, we condense it to a single day, and you’ve got to make your schedule fit that day.
“What do I like? I like what the state of Oregon has done — vote by mail,” he noted. “They run their entire election on vote by mail. They do have a voting booth at the town office, but the vast majority mail in their ballots. So I would like to see a much more nonrestrictive approach. I think that every single citizen should be automatically registered to vote — driver’s license, property tax, whatever it comes through. Then you get to choose, which is your right, to vote or not to vote.”
Elling noted that he has already written to state representatives and senators about the issue and so far has heard no response.
Praising the town staff, Elling said it seems like they are not thanked enough for their service to the town.
“Our town staff – particularly in the office and the manager – they really do nice work. They are good people. They are good public servants. They respond very well. They have patterns in the way they do things, that’s just the reality of any place. They won’t always meet our needs, but they really do try, and I have nothing but compliments for all of them, every one of them. I think that’s absent too much in our town, that we don’t communicate gratitude for what our town employees give to us, and maybe it’s because we can’t see what they’re giving to us.”
He also mentioned Town Manager Conway Gregory’s choice to not renew his contract with the town and said he hopes that, if he is elected, that could change.
“There’s some conflict presently with the town manager and the council. There’s conflict there. So the town manager has decided to give his termination notice. I don’t know what the conflict is, but I think Conway has done a pretty good job in managing the town and the budget and the staff.
“I don’t know what the issue is, and at some point down the line I’m going to have to hear what it the issue is, but I’m in no hurry to bring in a new town manager and have to start all over again. There is a drop – when you change staff, you get a little lull until that person can get settled and take off and get into the routine of it,” he said. “At this point in time, in this economy, it’d be best to keep things smoothly moving along, and I think we’d be better off if we could convince our town manager to stay.”
As for campaigning, Elling said he plans to send out mailers to residents who aren’t year-round residents, notifying them of his intent to run. He also plans to invite residents to share in informal meetings at his own home.
“I want to do some lounge-chair discussions, invite people to come into our back yard, bring your lounge chair, and let’s talk about your concerns and let’s hear your ideas, ask me questions. We may try that three times,” he said. “The other is to just go to neighborhoods and take your lounge chair, and send out some sort of announcement and see if people want to come.”
Elling said his family has embraced his campaign, and he already has one supporter in his 13 year-old daughter Ana Natalia.
“I’m excited for him to do it, and it’d be great for him if he actually got the honor of being mayor,” she said. “It’d be good for him to do something.”
Elling said he hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the council and promises that he is committed to only one three-year term.
“In reality, the mayor really just has one vote, like the other council members,” he said. “I believe in change in politics. The voters should have change. Change is much healthier; you get more ideas. You get more energy, and that’s what all towns need. If the town wants a salesman, they’ll get me at a good price.”