BLM retiree appointed to Prineville City Council

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: May 30. 2007 5:00AM PST

PRINEVILLE – The Prineville City Council appointed and swore in a new member, Jack Seley, at a meeting Tuesday night.

Seley fills a seat on the council that had been vacant since late March when Tim Harris resigned citing work-related conflicts. Harris was appointed to the council in 2005 and re-elected in November. Seley’s term will run through December 31, 2010.

The replacement comes at a time when the city is addressing its infrastructure needs for a growing community. Seley’s first task immediately after he was sworn in Tuesday was attending a meeting on Prineville’s draft budget for the 2007-08 fiscal year.

Seley is a retired employee of the Bureau of Land Management who has lived in Prineville for just more than one year. In his 35-year career with the BLM, he lived and worked in California and Reno, Nev., he said.

“There was a need, and I thought that my experience and abilities fit the need, so I applied (for the council seat),” Seley said. “Community service is one of the things that we all need to get involved in.”

Seley added that he served two terms with a homeowners association before moving to Prineville, and his work with a federal agency also should be an asset.

“I have been in public service,” he said. “I’ve conducted public meetings – I’ve had to coordinate and cooperate with federal agencies, state agencies, county, city, so I’ve been involved in that way.”

Seley was one of only two people to apply for the job, and the other – Crook County Planning Commission Chairman Bill Gowen – withdrew his name from the race. The City Council holds two regular meetings a month, and councilors are unpaid and must be at least 18 years old, be registered voters and have resided in the city for at least one year.

Prineville Mayor Mike Wendel said he was “a little bit” surprised that so few candidates applied for the job.

“We have a lot of people that have a lot of concerns about what’s going on, and I was really sort of hoping that we would have more, but people have other things going on in their lives I guess,” Wendel said. “I think (Seley) will be an asset to the community being on the City Council – I look forward to working with him.”

He added that serving on the City Council is a significant time commitment.

“I’m always looking for somebody that has the time to commit ’cause I believe it should take a fair amount of your time,” he said. “I’m also looking for people that are interested in looking at the long term of the community, not just to fix the immediate situation.”

Seley said he does not have a specific agenda as a council member.

“I come into this basically issue-neutral – I think that’s a positive for the city and for myself, too, because I don’t have any preconceived notions,” he said. “I’m just going to sit back and learn (and) keep my mouth shut until I know something about the issues.”

He added that he and his wife moved to Prineville because of its semi-arid environment, similar to areas they have lived in previously. That also means he is already familiar with some of the environmental issues the city faces. Seley, who is originally from the Willamette Valley area, has two children and three grandchildren, all of whom live in Reno.

“I know that we’re dealing with a large population influx,” he said. “We have a potential problem with securing enough water for the increasing population – we have some of the same problems that I was used to in other locations.”

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