Linn County’s smaller communities have a distinct lack of fireworks in the November general election. Many mayoral and city council races are uncontested, and in several instances, incumbents were the only ones to file for the positions.
But that lack of drama on the ballot can be a great thing, as veteran politicians remain in office.
Mill City was ravaged by the Beachie Creek Fire in September, so City Recorder Stacie Cook said she was relieved that longtime Mayor Tim Kirsch and incumbent Councilors Brett Katlong and Dawn Plotts were running unopposed. Their experience will help the town rise from the ashes.
“Each of these candidates has spent time on the council. They understand how the council works, and they know what is needed to move forward. They know what is needed to get volunteers so we can build back,” Cook said.
Micki Valentine, Lyons city recorder, said it “absolutely” was beneficial to retain knowledge and know-how. Her husband, Mayor Lloyd Valentine Jr., and incumbent City Councilor Mike Wagner are both running unopposed for re-election. Both are longtime residents with plenty of connections in the Santiam Canyon and beyond, including with fire districts.
Rebuilding fire-damaged structures and making emergency preparedness better, however, is going to be a learning experience for everyone. “We haven’t had to deal with this before. Nobody on the council has,” Micki Valentine said.
John Hitt, Harrisburg city administrator, said that a stable full of veterans can sometimes bring both benefits and drawbacks.
“You can enjoy the level of knowledge and experience that long-term council members can bring,” Hitt said. “On the other hand, it’s good to have new voices, new ways of thinking come on the council periodically or even frequently,” he added.
Often, it’s best to have a blend of experienced councilors and newcomers, Hitt said, but towns with no turnover in elections can and will do just fine.
In Harrisburg, four incumbents are running unopposed for re-election.
What’s most discouraging on the ballot for small towns, Hitt said, is when no one files for an open position.
Only Halsey and Tangent each have a City Council spot that could be determined by write-ins. Two years ago, there were six positions with no candidates in our small town election roundup.
One of the more interesting races will be for Tangent’s mayor. Incumbent Loel Trulove will face off against challenger David Kingsberry.
Here’s a closer look at the races, and lack thereof, in Linn County small towns.
Three candidates are running for three four-year positions on the City Council.
They are incumbent Carla Gerber, who is seeking a fourth term on the council, longtime resident Adam Craven and Michael Humphreys, who has coached athletics for Central Linn High School, said Scott McDowell, city administrator.
Mayor Jerry Lachenbruch is running unopposed to retain his seat for a two-year term. He was appointed to the role of mayor in March 2019, said Hilary Norton, city administrator.
Two incumbents on the City Council are seeking to be re-elected to four-year terms. Lee Skinner, the current council president, was appointed to the government body in 2014, while Rella Johnson was initially appointed in 2013.
No candidate filed for a third position on the board, which will be determined by write-in votes should that person choose to accept the role.
Mayor Bobby Duncan, who has led the city for nearly 20 years, is running unopposed for his 10th two-year term.
Three incumbents are unopposed in their re-election bids for four-year terms on the City Council: Robert Boese, who has served continuously on the council since 2010; Mike Caughey, who has served on the council since 2012; and Randy Klemm, who was appointed to the council in 2018.
Mayor Lloyd Valentine Jr. is running unopposed for a second two-year term.
Incumbent Michael Wagner, who has served on the City Council since 2015, and Diane Hyde, the former postmaster in Lyons, are running unopposed for two council seats.
Kirsch has already served seven two-year terms leading the Santiam Canyon town, according to city records.
Katlong and Plotts both have been on the council since 2016. City Council members have four-year terms in Mill City.
Three councilors, Dave Harms, Scott McPhee and John Sullivan, are all unopposed in their re-election bids for the City Council.
Harms and McPhee both were elected to the council in 2016, while Sullivan was appointed to fill a vacancy last year and is running for the first time, said Kevin Kreitman, Millersburg city manager.
Mayor Chadd Weaver is unopposed in his re-election bid for a four-year term. He has led the city since 2014, and previously served for four years as a City Council member.
Three current council members, Joey Ferguson, Tom Meyer and Karen Eckhart, also are running unopposed in the November general election.
Ferguson was elected to the City Council in 2012, while Eckhart joined the council in 2016. Meyer was appointed to the group in 2018, according to Ginger Allen, city manager and city recorder.
Lori McAllen is running unopposed for mayor, which has a two-year term. McAllen is the chair of the budget committee. The current mayor, Suzie Hibbert, is retiring, said Judy Smith, city administrator.
Three candidates are running for two City Council spots. Incumbents Jeffery Hensley and Anthony Morelos are trying to retain their seats, and local volunteer Adina Olivares also is running.
Mayor Loel Trulove, who has led the city for six years, is being challenged by David Kingsberry.
Trulove was appointed mayor back in 2015, when no one else ran for the position.
The retired Albany firefighter currently serves as a volunteer lieutenant with the Tangent Fire District. “My whole life has been serving the public,” Trulove said.
Trulove also has strong ties to the Tangent area, and lives on the family property his mom was born on in 1918.
Kingsbury, a master birdhouse maker who ships his creations around the world, grew up off Tangent Drive and graduated from South Albany High School in 2004.
He wants to get more parks and outside gathering areas for children and families in Tangent. “We need to bring in more businesses,” he added. “I feel like I could possibly come in there and change some of that.”
Incumbent Carol Korn-Shioshi, who has served on the City Council for four years, is unopposed for her re-election bid for position No. 1 on the government body. No one filed for position No. 2.
Kingsberry said that if he loses the mayoral race, he’d like to join the council, so he’s encouraging write-in votes.
Mayor Justin Cary, first elected in 2018, is seeking re-election.
Four candidates — including two City Council members — are vying for three at-large four-year terms. They include incumbent Kevin Faulk, incumbent Allen Shearer, Adam Beskow, who has served on the budget committee, and Susie Foster.
This is the first time in recent memory that Waterloo has had more candidates than council seats in an election.
Kyle Odegard can be contacted at 541-812-6077 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter via @KyleOdegard.
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.