Morris defeats Navickas in landslide

Ashland Planning Commissioner Michael Morris unseated Ashland City Councilman Eric Navickas in a landslide victory that surprised both candidates and their supporters.

Morris brought in 64.1 percent, or 3,819 votes, while Navickas trailed with 35.6 percent, or 2,123 votes, as of 10 p.m.

While Morris, a contractor, watched election results Tuesday surrounded by a loud crowd at Standing Stone Brewing Co., Navickas and his supporters were subdued as they sat with a laptop showing incoming votes at Navickas' downtown MAda Gallery.

"I was surprised," Navickas said. "I didn't think Ashland voters would be bought off by smear campaigns run by the biggest developers. A lot of things are in the balance. This shifts the council to a solid conservative voting body. I don't see Ashland constituents as being far to the right."

Navickas said after Morris takes office in January 2011, Carol Voisin will be the lone liberal on the council.

According to a Tuesday check of state records on campaign spending, Navickas spent $2,187 and Morris spent $2,169. The League of Ashland Voters Political Action Committee spent $5,913, largely on ads highlighting Navickas' council votes that the PAC viewed as objectionable.

PAC Director Bill Heimann said the January City Council, which will have Morris and Southern Oregon University business professor Dennis Slattery as new members, is not far to the right politically by any stretch of the imagination.

"A 'right wing' Ashland candidate is a centrist Democrat," Heimann said.

While the PAC has had some contributions from people in the business community, its purpose is to promote candidates who can work well together for the good of Ashland, he said.

Morris said he worked hard on his campaign by going door-to-door to introduce himself to voters. He said the new City Council will be more productive.

"I'm not going to say it will be far right or far left. It will be a better council. We'll get more done for everyone in Ashland," Morris said.

Morris' victory continues a gradual change taking place among Ashland voters.

He ran in 2004, but was defeated by the more liberal Cate Hartzell.

In 2006, Navickas defeated a more conservative candidate, Greg Lemhouse. But in 2008, Lemhouse beat Hartzell to win a seat on the council. Morris' 2010 victory continues the shift away from liberal candidates.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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