By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes
Keizer City Councilor Joe Egli announced this week he’s running for mayor.
Egli said he’d made up his mind prior to Mayor Lore Christopher’s announcement last week that she would seek a seventh mayoral term. Egli was elected to his first term in 2010.
But Egli, a 45-year-old insurance agent, said that didn’t change his mind.
“Our public is not happy with what we’re doing right now,” Egli said. Egli praised the job Christopher has done, but said it’s about what he can offer the community.
“We’re on the golf course, and I’m playing my own ball – that’s how I’m going to run my campaign,” Egli said.
He said he wants to build bridges between the public, elected officials and city staff. While he praised the work of the city’s hired staff, he feels councilors don’t spend enough time hearing from the public.
Raised in Aurora, he started working in Keizer at age 14 for Gordy Hagglund with H&B Painting – “a good business for a young guy making some money during the summer.”
So good, in fact, that he spent 15 years working for Hagglund after his graduation from North Marion High School.
“I learned about teamwork, partnership and responsibility,” Egli said. “Doing the right thing for the customer will pay off in the long run – every single time. It hurts a little in the short run.”
After that he opened Egli Painting in 1997. He moved to Keizer the year before, joined the Rotary Club and later the Keizer Chamber of Commerce. And he found that, incidentally, business picked up as he invested more time in the community.
Egli was elected to the chamber’s board and later became its president. He’s also a former Rotary Club president. While on the Chamber board he led its urban growth boundary discussions, which ended up with a recommendation to expand the city when possible.
Replacing Richard Walsh on the city council, it didn’t take long for Egli to end up crossways with Christopher and other councilors. He opposed City Manager Chris Eppley’s proposal that the urban renewal district should pay for a Keizer Station co-developer’s outstanding bond debt.
Egli acknowledged at the time that using the city’s general fund to pay down that bond debt would put a pinch on city resources. But he felt the train had left the station by the time he proposed an alternate plan.
“The extension was presented to us as our only option,” Egli said. “… We listened to public testimony, but the decision was already made.”
At times he felt the implication was he was wrong just for deviating outside the norm.
“Everybody has a position, and just because their position is different doesn’t mean they’re wrong,” Egli said.
He was fresh to the council when the group opted not to seek an emergency services fee on cell phones. A series of town halls were designed to refresh ties between the council and the public was not as successful as Egli would have liked.
He feels that, between email and individual discussions between councilors and staff, issues continued to be debated and decided largely behind the scenes.
“Crossing that line is easy to do when you’re merely asking questions that can turn into statements of position,” Egli said. “… I’d like to see those emails posted on a blog at the end of the discussion. But more importantly, I’d like to have those discussions in front of the cameras during meetings.”