It’s official: The Ashland City Council on Tuesday affirmed results of the Nov. 6 election as certified by the Jackson County clerk.
Two challengers and two incumbents topped council vote counts, two incumbents won and one open seat was filled on the Parks and Recreation Commission, and two unopposed city office holders were resoundingly returned to office.
The final tall shows challenger Tonya Graham received 7,347 votes, 66.6 percent, to displace incumbent Michael Morris with 3,383 votes, 30.7 percent, for Council Position 2. Graham is the executive director of Geos Institute, an organization dedicated to community planning for climate change. This organization helped the city develop its Climate and Energy Action Plan. She also serves on the Wildfire Mitigation Commission and the Ashland School District Bond Committee. This will be her first term on the council.
Julie Akins received 5,835 votes, 55.12 percent, for Position 3, defeating appointed incumbent Jackie Bachman with 4,161 votes, 39.31 percent. Akins received her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Puget Sound. She has served as an adjunct professor at Southern Oregon University and as a freelance journalist covering the city of Ashland for the Ashland Daily Tidings. This will be Akins’ first term on the council.
Stefani Seffinger retained Position 4 with 5,814 votes, 53.16 percent, turning back a challenge from foremr Councilor Carol Voisin with 5,089, 46.53 percent. Seffinger has served on the Council since 2014. She has previously served on the Forest Lands Commission, the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission, the Senior Program Advisory Board and the Conservation Commission.
Appointed incumbent Stephen Jensen retained Position 6 with 5,441 votes, 51.01 percent, defeating George kramer with 4,255 votes, 39.89 percent. Jensen was appointed by the council after Traci Darrow stepped down when she moved outside of city limits in March. Jensen’s served on the Forest Lands Commission, the Tree Commission and the Wildfire Mitigation Commission, among others.
Parks & Recreation
Mike Gardiner retained Position 3 on the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission with 5,891 votes, 60.68 percent, well ahead of Tim Kelly with 3,797 votes, 39.11 percent. This is Gardiner’s third term with APRC. He was first elected in 2002. He also served on the Ashland Planning Commission from 1996-2002.
Julian Bell won the open contest for Position 4 with 5,439 votes, 55.94 percent, ahed of Jim Bachman with 4,268 votes, 43.90 percent. This is Bell’s first term on the commission. Bell is a physician with Providence Medford Medical Center and has no previous government experience, according to his election application. He attended Cornell University, New York Medical College and Rush University Medical Center.
Rick Landt retained his parks Position 5 seat with 7,173 votes, 73.94 percent, topping Howard McEwan with 2,513 votes, 25.90 percent. This is Landt’s third term on the commission. He previously served from 1998-2002 and rejoined the commission in 2010. In addition to his 12 years of APRC experience, he also has experience in environmental planning and permaculture design.
Judge and recorder
The positions of city recorder and municipal judge were not challenged.
Melissa Huhtala retained her position as city recorder with 7,364 votes, 99.53 percent. She was appointed the city recorder May 2017. She was previously the city recorder and the executive assistant to the city manager for the City of Talent. Prior to that she was the administrative assistant to the finance director for the City of Ashland.
Pamela Turner retained her position as judge with 7,232 votes, 98.93 percent. Turner has served as municipal judge since 2007. She served as the Ashland Municipal Judge Pro Tem from 1987-2007. She’s also worked as an SOU legal services attorney, a California department of food and agriculture supervising attorney, held a private practice in Redding, California and worked in the San Joaquin County Public Defendant’s office.
Out of 16,293 registered voters, 13,018 ballots were cast, which is an overall voter turnout of 79.90 percent.
Those elected will be sworn into office, or begin new terms, in January.
(Dec. 22: Story updated to correct the percentage of the vote won by incumbent Municipal Judge Candidate Pamela Burkholder Turner.)