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We’re fortunate to have two candidates for Salida City Treasurer. As Salida’s retiring treasurer, my firsthand views may inform voters just learning about the office. Either candidate technically qualifies for the role, but Wayles Martin is the top choice.

I’m formally endorsing Wayles Martin as the best candidate. After hours of meetings, both in public and one-on-one, I’m confident that she has a keen interest in public service and a long runway. First and foremost, I believe she will listen to what the community as a whole needs and then help guide fiscal responsibility and sustainability as the council stewards our tax dollars.

Ms. Martin was the first to contact city staff to learn about the position. When positive feedback reached me, I saw right away the potential for a fresh take on the role. What impresses me is her passion for public service, coupled with great listening skills and follow up; traits uncommon among younger generations focused on merely surviving these uncertain economic times. She’s attended every work session, council meeting and Finance Committee meeting since declaring her candidacy.

At the Candidate Forum on Oct. 4, Martin spoke directly and candidly. She went well beyond pat answers and shopworn, typical candidate-speak. Not taking a pass, she expressed thoughtful opinions when asked about council member issues that she would not even have a vote on.

Aside from a solid performance, what came afterwards impressed me the most. Of the 11 supporters in her peer group who attended, not one had ever set foot in Council Chambers before. More than a few said that they now felt part of the local government process and wanted to come back and participate in future council meetings.

Martin related that beyond the personal challenges a public candidate forum demands, that this feedback was a defining moment for her. It says volumes about the motivation of Wayles and her overarching approach. Engaging a younger demographic and a more diverse and inclusive constituency is the best thing that Salida can hope for.

At a recent meet-and-greet, Martin captured visual feedback about high-level, city department and program budget priorities. She’s reaching out at community meetings and individually to demographic groups and stakeholders beyond her own. She’s asking what concerns retirees and what their housing needs are, compared to the active workforce; answers that may inform future city budgets.

Martin is deeply involved in the small businesses that are the heart of Salida and its service-based economy. Yet she knows that this community is made up of many parts. The city treasurer can help the council be aware of Salida’s overall needs and wants, across all wards. The position requires a continuous, active, visible presence and voter advocate at all council meetings and the eager, lifelong learner that she appears to be.

A pending first-time homebuyer, Martin has walked a long, hard road, managing her own budget, persisting through the maze of lender and agency processes, while working full-time. Yet as she told me, “It’s not enough. I want to give back and get more deeply involved with this community.”

The role of Salida City Treasurer is indeed unique, relevant, and most of all, important for a healthy future.

Wayles Martin. First to engage. First on the ballot.

Merrell Bergin


Editor’s note: The letter has been submitted as a personal opinion by a volunteer member of the Truth Has a Voice Foundation board of directors who is neither a staff member nor a contractor. It should not be construed as an endorsement by Ark Valley Voice (AVV); which has never endorsed candidates running for office at the local, state or national level.