Jeff Horness

Jeff Horness is the newest appointment to the Clatskanie City Council.

Jeff Horness, a Vietnam war veteran and a family man, is now ready to take on a new challenge.

Horness stepped up to become a Clatskanie City Councilor following the resignation, Sept. 21, of councilor Bruce Holsey.

Horness is an active member on the Planning Commission, an entity responsible for reviewing and deciding on subdivisions, zoning changes, and variance requests, for two years. His term is set to expire Dec. 31. Horness joined the commission by invitation from the mayor.

"I was asked by the mayor I've worked with, Bob Brajcich (to join). I've known him my whole entire life,” Horness said, emphasizing their connection. “He was a grade ahead of me in school, and I worked out of Georgia Pacific for over 20 years. He just approached me one day. And I thought sure, I'd never considered it until he asked me."

Horness said he chose to become a city councilor because of his experience living in Clatskanie, a city that he said has served him since he became a resident in 1966.

“Clatskanie has been very good to me economically,” Horness said. “We raised four kids here, we built four homes. This has been a great little community to raise a family. Our kids have had a great education and economic opportunities here. (Now) it’s time to give back.”

He was discharged from his military service in 1974 and met his wife two years later in 1976. They married in 1980 and had four children, who have given them 10 grandchildren. Two of the children and five grandchildren still live in Columbia County.

With decades of experience living in the city to draw from, The Chief asked Horness what he believes are the challenges Clatskanie faces, and how the city needs to go about solving them.

The Challenges

Horness identifies increased traffic congestion in the city and parking deficits as two examples of the challenges Clatskanie faces ahead.

Horness said he has witnessed the impact an uptick in traffic has had on members of his family.

“My mom recently moved into the trailer park down by the tunnels and trying to get out of that trailer park is difficult in any of those small businesses along Highway 30, between Clatskanie and Westport," Horness said.

The current parking situation in Clatskanie also causes major strain, particularly for event-goers, according to Horness.

“They (Clatskanie) have major events down at the Legion hall where parking becomes an issue. Northeast becomes like a one-way street when you have big events there. People are parking on either side of the street. That’s pretty narrow," Horness said.

The Solutions

Horness said that he will focus on central expansion initiatives, such as boosting the amount of available housing, parking, and traffic lanes citywide.

"We moved up here into the Clatskanie Woods subdivision in a two-way owned by Toby Harris,” Horness said. “And I'd like to see another one of these HOA communities be developed into the city proper for the tax base, (which is) good for the city, and good for people all around."

Horness believes that the development of new housing projects can bring economic growth to the city which is, like many other states across the country, still bouncing back from the standstill created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I really would like to get that Humps Restaurant back in business,” Horness said, adding he also wants to see more economic opportunities and the downtown area revitalized.

“It's just been a real challenging year and a half, two years,” he said. “Businesses are struggling.”

Horness also pointed to the city’s increasing murals as an economic advantage.

“I would love to see Clatskanie get the murals that are being painted downtown to add a new dimension, I guess, if you will, pretty up the downtown area,” he said.

Other proposals include the construction of new traffic lanes, which would allow for a better flow of traffic, Horness said.

“I would try and work with the state and county to maybe widen that bridge coming into Clatskanie, (create) more lanes through the city. Traffic is a major issue trying to get off and on the highway Friday and Sunday afternoon,” Horness said.

Horness said he would like the people of Clatskanie to know that he will strive to support blue-collar workers.

"Well, I've been blue-collar my whole entire life, and that's where my heart is with people who work and that I, you know, have their back. I work for them. I don't have an agenda per se. They're the people that I represent, and I respond to their needs and their concerns,” Horness said.

Council members serve four-year terms, and terms are staggered so that every two years, three council members are up for re-election. The Clatskanie city councilors are not paid for their service to the city.

The requirements to be a Clatskanie city councilor include being a resident in the city limits for at least one year.

City manager of Clatskanie Greg Hinkelman said “Clatskanie city councilors are responsible for attending at least one city council meeting a month and weighing on all legislation and business that comes before the council.”

The current city council consists of six members. They are Bob Brajcich, Toby Harris, Bruce Jolma, Jean Sampson, Gary Jones, and Jim Helmen.

Horness will be sworn in November.

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