SWEET HOME — A year ago, the faces of the seven-member City Council were all male.
That changed in July, when Diane Gerson was appointed to fill the seat vacated by the resignation of Bruce Hobbs, who moved outside the city limits.
But depending on how local residents cast ballots Nov. 8, more than half of the council members could be female come the first meeting in January.
Long-time Mayor Jim Gourley is not seeking re-election for the first time in more than 20 years, but his wife, Lisa, is seeking a seat on the council. Other female candidates are Susan Coleman, Theresa Howard, Lisa Pye and Gerson, whose appointed term runs out at the end of December.
Male candidates are Andrew Allen and incumbents Dave Trask and James Goble.
The top three vote-getters will serve four-year terms and the fourth-place candidate will serve a two-year term.
Whatever the council looks like in January, its members will have to hit the ground running.
The community has been without a full-time city manager since April, although a contract offer has been made to Raymond Towry of Ephrata, Washington. Towry has extensive experience in small-town government, but not as city manager, so the council will need to provide guidance and direction.
The council is also beginning a discussion of changing the way the mayor is elected.
Currently, council members are elected at large by a public vote and the council members then elect a mayor. The council is considering changing that system to allow the public to elect the mayor.
Although the city has a new water treatment plant, the council members will face some tough economic decisions concerning its old wastewater treatment system.
And the city will begin renovating the former Sweet Home Ranger District office into a new City Hall. The current council purchased the building several months ago. It has been empty for several years and had at one point experienced extensive water damage.
Tax compression is projected to reduce funding for the public safety and library levies.
The council may also be asked to deal with the issue of recreational marijuana sales if approved by voters on the Nov. 8 ballot.