Andrea Blum is running for Sisters City Councilor in November election.photo by Sue Stafford
Andrea Blum is running for Sisters City Councilor in November election.photo by Sue Stafford

Andrea Blum is the only incumbent Sisters City Councilor running this November for election to one of the three available seats on the Council.

Blum was appointed a year ago to fill the vacancy on the Council created when Wendy Holzman resigned. Her year has been one of trial by fire, including the contentious resignation of city manager Andrew Gorayeb, the firing of longtime city attorney Steve Bryant, and resignations of the finance director and the senior planner, and the work of finding their replacements.

Blum has experienced first-hand the difficulty created with continual turnover of Council members and staff.

"It has been difficult for the City to move forward with the community's and the Council's goals because of the continued turnover," Blum remarked, saying she will bring "continuity and historical memory" to the Council.

"Now that I have served a year on the City Council, I believe I am more able to understand the various alternatives that are available and will be better able to advocate for the community's concerns and priorities," Blum told The Nugget.

She believes that the first year as a member of the City Council is mainly a learning experience.

"I'm finally feeling like I can be proactive on the important issues that I hear about from the community, instead of just reacting to what comes before the Council at regular meetings. It takes a significant investment of time on the Council to understand how local government works and what role the City Council plays. I'm ready to put my experience to work for Sisters," she said.

Blum outlined three major issues she thinks are top priorities for the Council to address:

• Affordable housing: "We cannot maintain a healthy business community or encourage families to move here and help fill our schools without adequate affordable housing. I will continue to work with affordable-housing providers to find innovative ways to bring needed housing to Sisters."

• Highway congestion: "Summertime highway congestion through Sisters is a fact of life. The roundabout at the west end of Sisters that's being built next spring will help improve traffic flow and safety. The City is also working on an updated Transportation System Plan, which will include options for improved traffic flow and safety on the east entrance of Sisters. As a member of this committee, I will work to keep this a priority."

• Livability: "Many residents of Sisters Country have moved here for the lifestyle it offers. So how do we maintain that lifestyle while still encouraging a healthy business environment?"

Blum believes the only way to meet these challenges is to "continue working as a community to find the right balance for Sisters." She pledges, that if elected to the Council, she will work with the community to find that balance.

She sees the roll of the Council as that of a policy-making body. Their job is to set parameters and goals. It is of utmost importance that they hire good staff, communicate clearly with staff regarding the policies and goals, and expect staff to act in an advisory capacity based on Council's policies and the state laws.

Blum grew up in the Willamette Valley, living in Amity, Carlton, McMinnville, and Silverton, where she graduated from high school. After attending the University of Oregon for a time, and lacking any particular direction in her education, she decided to join the working world.

Blum and her husband, Jack, are residents of Pine Meadow Village and have lived in Central Oregon since 1988. She served as the recording secretary for the Deschutes County Commission, providing her a broad education in local government issues, particularly those related to land use.

Much of Blum's employment has provided valuable experience for her position as a Councilor. She worked for 15 years for the Oregon Public Employees Union in Salem, where she worked with contract negotiations and supervision of employees. Her goal was often to see that there was equity for all parties.

For over 20 years Blum has been actively involved with the Deschutes County League of Women Voters, serving in all the leadership positions.