Sharlene Weed is running for another term on the Sisters City Council.photo provided
Sharlene Weed is running for another term on the Sisters City Council.photo provided

Sharlene Weed, 45, has been a Sisters City Councilor now for about six years. She's running again this year to retain her council seat.

Raised in Yreka, California, Weed spent much of her early years in that Northern California community of about 5,000 people. She's also proud of the fact that the nearby town of Weed was named after her great-great-grandfather, who founded the community.

"Having lots of family around was really a 'pioneering' feeling, really grounding for me," said Weed.

Sharlene's first move away from Yreka was attending the University of California, Santa Barbara.

"This was really eye-opening for me, it was the first time I became aware of politics," said Weed.

Weed studied communications and political science and served as vice president of the student body one year. During her sophomore year she spent a summer in Washington, D.C. working as a congressional intern for the late Congressman Gene Chappie.

When asked how the experience influenced her perspective on politics, Weed said, "I was responsible for responding to constituent mail. I was discouraged. The issues were big and the packets of information were large and I knew my congressman didn't read them."

Following college Weed traveled for six years, including 14 months in South America.

"It just seemed like the natural thing for me to do at the time," she said.

Weed also spent three years off and on in Japan teaching English. Returning home briefly to California, Sharlene soon moved to Taiwan, again to teach English, but this time with her boyfriend.

"While in Taiwan we had a pleasant surprise; found out I was pregnant! By that time I was tired of traveling and ready to nest," said Weed.

Returning to the states Weed felt that Northern California was no longer the right fit. Her mother was living in Bend and that motivated Sharlene to check out Central Oregon.

"We drove into Sisters one day and I immediately loved it. I said 'OK this is it, let's find a house,'" said Weed.

Weed moved to Sisters in 1995. Later that same year Sharlene's son was born and she started her career with Sisters Habitat for Humanity as a part-time stipend-based volunteer.

"I held that position for two years while I worked on my master's degree in teacher's education through Eastern Oregon University," said Weed.

Weed has worked with Habitat for 15 years and serves now as the Sisters chapter's executive director.

Weed served on city councils with mayors Dave Elliott, Brad Boyd, and now Lon Kellstrom.

"My first council was very reliant on (city) staff and pretty much rubber-stamped things. Things have gotten more transparent as the councils changed," said Sharlene.

However, Weed has found the current council particularly challenging.

"This council has been a huge challenge for me. I see decisions made that are not transparent, not in keeping with the town's vision, and processes that are very sloppy. I hadn't seen that before, even in my first council," said Sharlene.

Weed describes herself as very process-oriented.

"I'm OK with losing the vote as long as the process is done properly," she said.

When asked whether she feels the three councilors elected in 2008 (Lon Kellstrom, Pat Thompson, and Jerry Bogart) have fulfilled their campaign promises about being pro-business, economic development, and job creation, Weed was pointed in her remarks:

"What is pro-business? I'm pro-business; I'm just not pro-giveaway to businesses or being irresponsible with citizens' tax dollars. I want to see businesses thrive and survive. I'm open to spending money to do that but there has to be a plan first. I've seen a lot of spending on this council without a lot of results."

Weed cites as an example of wasteful spending, Sisters' expenditures on economic development over the past two years.

"We were spending $750 on economic development (Economic Development for Central Oregon dues) two years ago. Now we're spending $57,000. That's a huge jump. We increased our dues to EDCO to $7,500 from $750; and we're getting the same support from EDCO that we got when we were spending $750. That huge jump I just couldn't support," said Weed.

Sharlene bristles when discussing the recent hiring process for a part-time economic development manager.

"This is a great example of botched process. From the get-go there were things going on behind the scenes that nobody knew about, actions being taken that should have been approved by council. There weren't transparent discussions about what was best; things seem to have been decided," said Weed.

"It looks like they hired a 'friend' of the council (Mac Hay). And that's what people are saying to me," added Sharlene.

Looking back on the annexation of the McKenzie Meadows Village (MMV) property into the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) in 2006, Weed indicated that, if she could do it all over, she wouldn't vote for the annexation.

"Hell no, are you kidding? In 2006 we were in boom times, things were a lot different then," she said.

Weed believes there is more than enough land now within the UGB to accommodate MMV's proposed development plans. This includes "affordable" senior living apartments, independent and assisted living for seniors, and a school-based medical facility.

"At the candidates forum back in 2008, all three of them (Kellstrom, Bogart, and Thompson) all said that MMV did not need to be annexed into the UGB. Within a few weeks of being elected they started working on it," said Weed.

"We have a surplus of commercial properties, a surplus of light industrial, a surplus of residential and bank-owned properties. We don't need more land. We have an over-30-year supply of land right now," said Weed.

Concerned about the influence of money in campaigns, Weed has decided not to accept campaign money or to form a political action committee (PAC). Weed has asked supporters to make monetary contributions to the Sisters Food Bank in the name of her campaign.

"So far we've been able to raise about $3,000 for the food bank," said Weed.

Although Weed, Holzman, and Shepardson are not running as a slate or financed by a PAC, Sharlene thinks the council would act very differently if all three were elected.

"We'd be very community-focused; very inclusive, making sure all the stakeholders are at the table when we're making decisions. We'll take the time to get all the facts and hear different perspectives to get to the best decision," said Sharlene.

Weed also indicated that, should the three women be elected, she would like to be Mayor: "Yes, absolutely, I'm ready. I think I'm very fair and honest. There wouldn't be any behind-the-scenes things or hidden agendas."

The entire interview with Sharlene Weed can be heard on the Sisters Talk podcast located at

http://broncobillysblog.blogspot.com/.