Election 2022: Three return to Sweet Home City Council, one debuts


November 16, 2022

Provided photo

Susan Coleman

Three familiar faces are returning to the Sweet Home City Council and a fourth makes his debut following the Tuesday, Nov. 8, general election.

Incumbents Susan Coleman, Dylan Richards and Greg Mahler were all reelected while newcomer Josh Thorstad joined their ranks.

According to the Nov. 9 Linn County election summary, Coleman led the overall pack with 1,950 votes, narrowly passing Richards at 1,930, followed by Thorstad at 1,809. Current mayor Mahler claimed 1,532 votes, downing David Lowman (1,422) and James Risinger (1,170).

Coleman, Richards and Thorstad will all receive four-year terms, with Mahler serving two years.

"I am very honored to represent the city of Sweet Home and the community," Coleman said. "I just love the community so much, and I was touched that people trust me to be in that position as a city councilor."

Candidates spoke of a sense of unfinished business in their reelection bids.

Coleman said she wanted to see the city through its transition to a new city manager and continue ongoing projects, particularly the Mahler Water Reclamation Facility upgrades and "to lay a foundation of how we are going to engage with this homeless situation."

"I'm interested in how to improve Main Street and what to do with our businesses there, and how to assist the property owners in filling their vacant spaces," she added. "If there's anything we can do to encourage them to bring businesses in, I'd like to do that."

Furthermore, she continued, "I want to see what we can do with the quarry property and what can be started with that, as that's such a huge asset to our community. I can see great things coming from that."

She also sought to continue to improve the city's parks, noting that she enjoyed seeing Sankey Park's transformation in recent years.

Mahler, too, discussed ongoing projects.

"I was excited to be reelected," he said. "I still felt that there was some unfinished business that I would like to see accomplished, especially on the wastewater treatment facility side. I'd like to put a lot of focus on economic development and improving our overall infrastructure in the community."

Richards also felt he had more to accomplish, from getting the mayor's position on the ballot rather than being appointed by the council, to cutting property taxes and slashing regulations on business.

"I felt extremely happy," he said after the election. "I'm grateful that the people reelected me."

Thorstad spoke of homelessness and crime as two major issues, as well as the city's turnover rates, permits and audits, the latter of which weren't completed on time.

"I was on the budget committee, and everybody was fooled by the things that were being done. That's another reason why I ran," he said. "The biggest thing I've talked about with a lot of the other councilors is transparency to the public. I think the city can do better about that, instead of hiding behind executive privilege.

"I just want to learn and get on the council and see what could be done to change Sweet Home," he continued. "Everybody has their own assumptions on what they can and can't do and complains about the city, but until you get on the council and know what's actually going on or are involved in a committee, you don't really know what's going on.

"I'm going to do the best I can to do what's best for the city of Sweet Home. I'm truly humbled by being elected. I was surprised to get that many votes, being that I was going up against three other people that are already on the council. I was pleased by that."

In county-level results, Republican incumbent Will Tucker handily won a fifth term as a Linn County commissioner, defeating Democratic hopeful Scott Bruslind with 69% of the vote. Incumbent county sheriff Michelle Duncan - who was appointed in January by her retiring predecessor, Jim Yon - downed challenger Jon Raymond, 56% to 43%.

In state Capitol races, Republican Jami Cate easily secured reelection as House District 11 representative with 75% of the vote over Democratic challenger Mary K. Cooke. Republican Cedric R. Hayden received 65% of the vote to represent the newly drawn Senate District 6 over Democrat Ashley Pelton.

After a close and hotly contested race, Democrat Tina Kotek became Oregon's next governor, winning 47% of the vote over Republican Christine Drazan (43.53%) and unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson (8.64%). However, Drazan was the clear winner in Linn County, with a sizable 62.79% to Kotek's 27.45% and Johnson's 8.57%.

Locally, Linn County approved Measure 22, which prohibited psilocybin-related businesses, 58% to 42%. Sweet Home issued a resounding no on the matter with 61% of its constituency. The overall vote was in line with 27 state counties, save Jackson and Deschutes.

In statewide measures, local voters agreed with the state in one instance while running counter with the prevailing sentiment on others.

Both passed Measure 113, which disqualified legislators from holding their next terms of office following 10 unexcused absences from floor sessions, with 56% and 68% of the vote, respectively.

Provided photo

Dylan Richards

However, while most Oregonians (nearly 51%) approved Measure 114, which would require obtaining a permit to buy a gun after completing a firearms safety course and would ban the sale or transfer of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, Linn County opposed it, 70% to 30%.

Additionally, Measure 111, better known as the Right to Healthcare Amendment - which would amend the state constitution to require that "every resident of Oregon has access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care" - passed statewide while the county voted 63% to 37% against it. Meanwhile, Measure 112 sought to remove state constitution language allowing slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for crime. Oregon passed it with 55.53% of the vote while the county rejected it, 63% to 37%.


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