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  • Writer's pictureJessica Engelke

Engelke is the right choice

Jessica Engelke is the right choice for mayor of North Bend. I first met Jessica in one of her business courses at Southwestern Oregon Community College in 2014. In our initial class Jessica talked about growing up in North Bend. She told us after high school she left for some time as she built her career and her life, living in various places across the United States and even abroad. She said when life returned her to North Bend in 2010 she couldn’t think of a better place to raise her family. She shared her passion and vision for our little coastal community. I was new to the area and I could tell the positive and enthusiastic way she spoke about growing up here, and now living here as an adult, was authentic.

I took most of Jessica’s courses at Southwestern where she leads students, year after year, to expand their visions for the area and to consider living, working and playing here. Her approach of respecting and preserving the deep roots of the area while also moving toward the future inspired me to rethink leaving and consider staying to contribute to this community. After over eight years here I still haven’t met anyone more enthusiastic about North Bend, more optimistic about what the future holds for it, or more creative about how we can build that future together.

My work is in social services and Jessica and I have discussed nearly every civil matter facing our community. I will not lie, like many communities we are facing serious challenges: budget shortfalls, lagging economic development, housing shortages, generational poverty, a mental health crisis, a substance use epidemic, and systematic discrimination. Jessica is always ready to listen to all sides, get all the facts, consider options, be creative, and look for solutions. These are not easily resolved issues and supporting our community members facing them is work that would fatigue even the most hopeful among us. The times Jessica encouraged me to continue working toward a solution to these challenges are countless. I can think of no one better suited to be in a community leadership position. A person who can bring all sides to the table and lead is what will move our community forward because we all need to do our part. What each person’s contribution looks like is unique, and I am certain we will not move forward by choosing someone who wants to do less and be divisive. Our community is not separate from the issues we face as a nation and I would rather have a leader who wants to bring people together than one that wants more separation. Now more than ever, any person in a leadership position should be chosen wisely with this in consideration.

Over the recent years I’ve known Jessica as a college instructor, an advisor, a mentor, a chamber of commerce president, a nonprofit board member, a race director, a parent, a city councilor, and possibly most important, a true member of our community, doing all she can to contribute to the health of the city of North Bend and to Coos County. The only plans I hear for the future from Jessica’s opponent is to do less. If there is one thing I know, it’s that problems don’t solve themselves, they require effort, and those efforts need to exceed just balancing the city’s budget. So, the next time you hear the same tired argument against Jessica for mayor of North Bend, know that it’s only because there aren’t a lot of arguments you can make against electing someone whose intentions lie solely in building the health of our community, and working to keep North Bend a wonderful place to live for everyone who resides here now or will in the future.

Kim Kanies

North Bend

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