GEARHART — Dan Jesse is making his second City Council bid in Gearhart.
Jesse’s career in public service began with the Seaside Civic and Convention Center and the Seaside Improvement Commission, before he and his wife Julie moved to Gearhart, where he served on the Planning Commission before election to City Council in 2012.
Jesse, raised in Silverton, met his wife — a lifelong Gearhart resident — while a student in Seattle. The couple returned to the region after school. Trained as a commercial photographer, Jesse is a builder by trade.
“When we moved here, commercial photography was not a viable way to make a living,” Jesse said. “I love the ability in a small town to see a client I’ve worked with in the grocery store, to have smiling faces and people happy with what you’ve accomplished. I wish I could say the same about politics.”
Jesse was referring to the last four years on the City Council, which have seen a number of contentious issues, from a mayoral recall vote and vigorous short-term rental debates to ongoing litigation at Neacoxie Creek Barn.
The reason for the city’s disquiet, he said, is a “generational shift,” in which many longtime residents are either leaving or being displaced by newcomers. “People knew each other and had a mutual respect and understanding, how to get along and play nice together,” he said.
With a vacation rental ordinance expected to pass in September, Jesse said the contentious topic would likely spill into future council sessions. “I don’t think this is coming to an end,” he said.
Both a referendum or a lawsuit in response to the ordinance are possibilities, Jesse said, “and I’ve heard rumblings of both. At least with a referendum, people could decide based on what the referendum is.”
He said he welcomed a public vote on the ordinance or portions of it, which could come in the form of a special election in 2017. “I’d like to hear what the people think, and I hate to see tax dollars going into a lawsuit.” Jesse said. “I’m not convinced the people wanting short-term rentals would come out as well as they think it would if it was put to referendum.”
Jesse said he hopes the dispute with Neacoxie Creek Barn owner Shannon Smith will draw itself to a conclusion as the process moves to Circuit Court. “I’m hoping we put that one behind us,” he said.
One issue he would like to see greater attention to is emergency preparedness.
“I think we’re still missing the boat in dealing with emergency preparedness,” he said. “We need to be putting time and effort as well as money in trying to put ourselves in a better position when a catastrophic event happens.”