Ryan Bartholomew and Ivan Hernandez grew up in Malin playing sports together in the city park. Graduates of Lost River High School, both are back home as the newest members of the Malin City Council, the friends taking on the challenge of leading Malin to a prosperous future for their kids and future generations.
Sworn in at the first city council meeting of 2017 earlier this month following November’s election, both are taking on new roles in local leadership but are no strangers to working toward a better community. Bartholomew and Hernandez join John Hughto, Agnes Turner-Wise, Connie Venegas and Mayor Gary Zieg in Malin’s government leadership, taking on tasks big and small for the betterment of the community and its citizens.
Bartholomew joined the Air Force out of high school, eventually attending Southern Oregon University. When a job opportunity arose at the Klamath Falls Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base he jumped at the chance to return home, spending his days working at the Air Force intelligence school on base and his evenings with his wife and two young daughters while focusing on ways to improve Malin. While new to the council he is no stranger to local government, having served for several years on the planning commission and budget committee.
County, city experience
Hernandez, too, comes into the council post with experience. He spent many years in the Klamath County Assessor’s office, eventually becoming county assessor and tax collector. He previously ran for Malin city council, and has spent the past year as a teacher and assistant basketball coach at Lost River High School. Hernandez is married with a son and two daughters, his wife Ann is an elementary school teacher.
In both cases they inevitably found their true home was in Malin, jumping on opportunities to return and give back.
“I love this community,” said Bartholomew. “I’m from Malin, I plan to stay in Malin for the foreseeable future, and thought this was a great opportunity for me to help shape the future of our community.”
For Hernandez it was advice from his father, a pastor at a local church, that guided him on a community service path.
“My dad has always said that we live in the community and need to be a part of the community,” said Hernandez. “It’s important to get involved, so I’ve always held that belief strongly that we need to be a part of the community. It was a great community to grow up in, even though when I graduated I wanted to leave. Now that I have kids I want them to have something to look forward to. My motivation is making this a great community again.”
Hernandez sees an added responsibility in his Hispanic heritage. He wants to improve communication with the growing Hispanic population, share the proud history of the community, and let them know about available city services. While not the only Hispanic member of the council, he considers the growing Hispanic population an important voice in the community’s future, and wants to make sure their concerns are met.
“We’re voted in to represent the citizens of Malin, and my goal is to represent them to the best of my ability,” added Bartholomew. “It’s my goal to make sure the services the city provides are top-notch and that I represent their interests.”
While there is a steep learning curve ahead to acquire knowledge from returning council members, Bartholomew and Hernandez share a passion for promoting and enhancing the community for both its residents and visitors. They cited the community’s park as a gem of the area, equipped with an Olympic-sized swimming pool, as well as recent renovations and upgrades to the Malin airport and theater. Bartholomew sees the Malin airport in particular as an under-utilized facility that could be a draw.
“The Klamath Airport is getting busier,” explained Bartholomew. “Malin is a great place for pilots to focus on flight training, especially now that Klamath Community College has a helicopter program.”
Looking forward, they see the need to address many of the same issues affecting other rural American communities. Sewer and water development projects and infrastructure repairs are at the top of Hernandez’s list, while Bartholomew noted drug problems afflicting the community and the need to coordinate more volunteers for projects. Both praised the city’s ability to manage budgets.
“One thing Malin has been extremely good at is the council and city are the gold standard for stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” said Bartholomew. “They do an outstanding job of taxpayer dollars management. We have to, we have a limited budget and tax base, that’s an issue that a lot of rural communities have not been able to overcome and I think Malin has done a really good job of working within our means.”
They also hope to help find ways for Malin to maintain its population. Whether in a specific trade or discovering new opportunities, Bartholomew called Malin a bedroom-community of Klamath Falls where he hopes youth will want to come back and stay involved.
While these long-term goals may be lofty, there are day-to-day operations of managing a city that must be addressed, and for this task both are very thankful for the intrepid staff in place.
“The city of Malin has three full-time employees and some part-time employees,” explained Bartholomew. “In a lot of ways they make the council’s job easy because they are so outstanding in what they do. We want to make sure they are provided the tools they need to continue to succeed at their jobs.”
“I want a good, safe community,” added Hernandez. “One we can showcase, where people want to come here. We’re all in it together, and we can make it work if we work together.”