Three freshly elected Ashland city councilors were ceremoniously sworn in at the first regular meeting of the year Tuesday. Two newcomers, Tonya Graham and Julie Akins, along with returning appointed incumbent Stephen Jensen, were seated after winning election in the fall, along with incumbent Stefani Seffinger, who won re-election.
Jensen was appointed to the council after Traci Darrow stepped down when she moved outside of city limits last March.
The four joined councilors Dennis Slattery and Rich Rosenthal and Mayor John Stromberg, all of whom have two years left to serve in their current terms after being re-elected in 2016.
The newly elected and re-elected were previously officially sworn in individually by city Recorder Melissa Huhtala after the first of the year and prior to conducting any official city business.
This is both Akins’ and Graham’s first term on the council.
Graham is executive director of Geos Institute, an Ashland-based organization dedicated to helping communities build climate resilience. She’s spent most of her career working to address ecological and climate challenges. She has served on the city’s wildfire mitigation commission, as well as a plethora of other nonprofit and local boards, and serves as a youth sports coach.
Akins is a previous Ashland Tidings freelance reporter, covering the city of Ashland, journalism instructor at Southern Oregon University, news director at KOBI in Medford, and a reporter and editor at KRON in the Bay Area. She’s also been involved with freelance reporting on the issue of homelessness up and down the West Coast and most recently has worked on transforming school buses into livable spaces for homeless families.