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Published: Sunday, 9/13/2009

Oregon Mayor Race: Incumbent, councilman, newcomer square off

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Incumbent Marge Brown, is being challenged by Councilman Mike Seferian, and Marvin Dabish. Incumbent Marge Brown, is being challenged by Councilman Mike Seferian, and Marvin Dabish.
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Retired teacher Marge Brown has been Oregon mayor for eight years, and she was on City Council before that.

Oregon small businessman Mike Seferian, who ran for mayor in 2001, has been on council for 18 years.

And grocery store manager Marvin Dabish is a political newcomer trying to drum up grass-roots support for change in a city where he has lived for four years.

The trio will face off in Tuesday's primary as they vie for two spots on the Nov. 3 ballot for the top executive spot in Oregon, which has largely escaped from financial difficulties during the economic downtown.

Still, the primary race heated up this month after Ms. Brown's son, a 39-year-old Oregon police officer, was suspended without pay for 20 days for illegally using a statewide law enforcement database to search for information about a former girlfriend.

A report on Jeffrey Brown released this month also said the 10-year Oregon police veteran was investigated for having sexual contact with another girlfriend while on duty several years ago. That charge, which Officer Brown denied, was dropped.

Ms. Brown, 72, said she is disappointed by her son's choices but said she trusts the police department is handling the situation.

She was not involved in the investigation, and she does not take part in police department grievances or negotiations because her son is an officer, she said.

"As a mother I'm hurt, but as the mayor, he has a penalty to serve, and he's going to serve it," said Ms. Brown, the endorsed Democrat.

Ms. Brown said voters should judge her on her achievements, not her adult son's behavior.

Oregon's reserves have quadrupled to $5 million since she became mayor and recreational grounds have been expanded. The city also has secured $8 million in grants for projects such as Community Care-A-Van, which transports residents of Oregon and neighboring communities to medical appointments on the east side for free.

"It's a good service, and I'm really proud of it," Ms. Brown said. "You do it because there are people out there who are needy, people out there who need help."

Among the incumbent's objectives is an expansion of Oregon's manufacturing base.

Mr. Seferian, an independent, said he would like to attract more businesses to Oregon. He said he would better be able to direct his priorities as mayor than as a member of council.

Among changes Mr. Seferian said he would like to make are loosening stringent building and sign codes in Oregon, which promote uniformity but are costly and otherwise burdensome for companies. Profit margins are tight, so anything the city can do to lower costs would help attract businesses, the 51-year-old said.

"For any business, especially small ones, there's a time line for a business to succeed or fail," Mr. Seferian said. "It costs in our city more to put up a building than in other cities."

Mr. Dabish, a 32-year-old Democrat, said he would work to bring more jobs and services to Oregon, including more stores and restaurants.

Establishing a multi-purpose recreation facility, including an ice rink, is one way to improve the city, he said.

Existing industrial and commercial sites should be redeveloped instead of farmland, Mr. Dabish said.

He said he would better direct Oregon's economic development and, if necessary, work on attracting businesses himself.

"You've got to work at it," Mr. Dabish said. "You've got to be aggressive."

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.



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