Lemhouse topples incumbent Hartzell

With 59 percent of the vote counted in Jackson County, Greg Lemhouse appeared headed to a clear victory over two-time incumbent Cate Hartzell in the race for city council seat No. 3.

The latest results from Jackson County showed Lemhouse with 60.92 percent of the vote (4,696 votes) and Hartzell with 38.76 percent (2,988 votes).

"I feel good. I feel excited," Lemhouse said.

But he wasn't ready to declare victory yet.

"I think Cate earns the respect of waiting until all the votes are counted," he said. "But it looks good and I'm excited about the possibilities."

If the results go his way, Lemhouse said he would like the council to "work hard to repair some of the relationships that have been frayed over the years."

A priority is implementing the forest resiliency plan to protect the watershed and establishing a working budget, he said.

"We have to realize that it's going to be a team effort not only as a city council but as a community working to get these things done," he said.

Hartzell could not be reached by press time.

Silbiger over Vavra, Chew

The results showed incumbent Russ Silbiger holding on to council seat No. 5 with 49.36 percent (3,617 votes) to Pam Vavra's 44.39 percent (3,253 votes).

Ben Chew received 6 percent (440 votes).

"I appreciate the voters giving me another opportunity to serve the city," Silbiger said this morning. "We've got a lot of important issues and struggles with the economy and budget."

He looks forward to working with the council, staff and community on these issues, he said.

"It's all just settling in for me," Silbiger said. "Today is sort of the euphoria of it all. Then it's really going to be getting down to business."

Silbiger said he feels good about the campaign.

"Despite the PACs' negativity, which I think put a pall on the whole thing, I personally ran a very positive, clean campaign and I think my opponents did as well," he said.

Although she's waiting for the final count, Vavra said she's pleased she did so well, and she hopes to work toward healing Ashland.

"I think this election has been one of the most difficult that I've ever seen," she said.

She hopes to see the community emerge stronger from the conflict and progress toward finding common ground.

To that end, Vavra said she plans on setting up discussions with people involved in the local political action committees and working toward more respectful campaigns in the future.

"See if we can't get a better understanding about what led to some of the activities and some of the ads that were run," she said.

Chew said he had a positive experience with the campaign, and he would like to run for office again.

"I'm not terribly surprised," he said. "But it was my first campaign and I'm pretty young, so I plan to keep on keeping on."

Voisin over Gaffey

In the race for council seat No. 1, Carol Voisin easily won with 79 percent (5,588 votes) to John Gaffey's 20.6 percent (1,457 votes).

Voisin said she thinks the local election's results are good for Ashland.

"I think we're going to have a strong council," she said. "I think we're on the wave of change that the whole nation is on. The new council will make a difference in Ashland."

She thanked Gaffey for running and all people who supported her.

Voisin said during her first year on council she plans to encourage the formation of two blue ribbon commissions.

One commission would work with the Chamber of Commerce, local businesses, Southern Oregon University and the city to create living wage jobs and affordable housing.

The other commission would work to decide what city services to keep and which ones need to be cut or scaled back.

"Both of them need citizen input," she said. "We need to go out and reach out to the people who aren't activists and ask them what they want for their community."

John Gaffey offered his congratulations to Carol Voisin and said her connection to SOU should prove a valuable asset to the city.

"Carol Voisin brings an intelligence, practicality and equanimity that any results-oriented working group will benefit from having on board," he said.

Gaffey said Ashland has an exciting and intriguing new city council.

"The new City Council has a number of very difficult challenges ahead of it that will prove daunting for the next several years," he said. "I think that we now have in place a solid group of leaders to address those challenges."

Staff writer Kira Rubenthaler can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226 or krubenthaler@dailytidings.com.

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