Anderson, Harkenrider to step down

<p>Hermiston City Councilman Frank Harkenrider points to a photo hanging on a wall in his office at his Hermiston home. Monday, Harkenrider announced he will not serve another term on the City Council.</p>

Hermiston City Council members George Anderson and Frank Harkenrider announced they will not seek reelection after their terms are up in 2014 at Monday’s regular council meeting.

Anderson came to the council in 2012 during what he described as “difficult times” and was instrumental in the decision to create the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center.

Harkenrider will retire from political life at the end of 2014 after serving the community in various capacities for more than 50 years.

Harkenrider became involved with local politics in 1962 first serving as mayor and most recently as a council member.

At Monday’s meeting, the council and Mayor David Drotzmann recognized Harkenrider’s service with a round of applause his announcement.

Harkenrider said he has witnessed many changes in Hermiston through the years.

“I’ve watched this city grow a lot,” Harkenrider said. “Back when I got started there were only three or four thousand people in Hermiston. Now we are the largest city in Eastern Oregon, with over 17,000 people.”

Drotzmann said Harkenrider’s 50 years of service was an outstanding demonstration of one man’s commitment to community service. Harkenrider said he did it out of a sense of duty and a joy for community government.

“Everything I did I tried to do with the best interests of the people in mind,” Harkenrider said. “I will miss it. I really enjoyed city politics.”

Harkenrider said before he leaves office he has two main priorities: revitalizing an economically depressed area of the city and preparing the city for a new city manager.

“I’d really like to see the downtown area get revived,” Harkenrider said. “We need to work on getting Main Street back on its feet. I’m also looking forward to helping Hermiston embrace the future with the hiring of our new city manager. That is a really important decision to be a part of.”

Harkenrider’s tenure on the council expires at the end of 2014. The city is in the early stages of the hiring process for a new city manager after current manager Ed Brookshier retires at the end of 2014. The city has hired a firm to conduct the search for qualified candidates.

Anderson said he is leaving the council to spend more time with his family and to focus on his law practice. He was appointed to the council during an especially tumultuous time in Hermiston’s political history. The former police chief had resigned, and four council members and the former mayor were facing recall.

Anderson said he “did what was needed to assist this city through difficult times” and was especially satisfied with two issues the council handled.

“Moving the fair out of the middle of Hermiston will change the face of our town forever,” Anderson said in a prepared statement. “Twenty-seven acres in the middle of town will be converted from a chain-linked, fenced restricted area into a wonderful, expanded high school campus. Helping our Hispanic community has been especially enriching. I am proud of how the council, mayor and administration have recognized and supported it and gave it its own forum with the Hispanic Advisory Committee.”

Anderson ended his brief statement with a call for younger generations to step forward and volunteer to serve as he and Harkenrider had done. He called on “the best and the brightest” to help lead the city into the future.

“There is an old saying,” said Anderson. “You get the government you deserve. Hermiston deserves good government, but it does not appear out of the heavens on an out-stretched hand. It takes good and committed people. I ask them to come forward and serve.”

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