City Government, Election

Grove votes in new mayor

Creswell keeps Stram

The results are in for the Southern Willamette Valley midterm elections — and new faces on the Cottage Grove city council are sure to shake things up over the next few years. 

Incumbent Jeff Gowing, 60, fell short of just over 200 votes to his opponent, Candace Solesbee. Gowing has been mayor since 2017 and city councilor for seven years prior. This was Gowing’s first highly-contested race in his political career following an attempted House race earlier this year. 

“When I set my mind to something, I do it,” he said. “So yeah, I’m disappointed but looking back at the friendships that I’ve made have been the best thing. I’ve grown as a person by listening and opening my eyes to what I can learn and how I can grow,” he said. 

Solesbee, 53, was Cottage Grove Ward 3 city councilor from 2018 – ‘22. The four legs of Solesbee’s platform included “fighting against drugs, law and order, compassion with accountability and transparency in government.”

“The election results aren’t certified yet, but thank you to everyone who supported me. I promise to serve you all, with every ounce of strength I have,” she said. 

In Creswell, mayor incumbent Dave Stram, 63, retained over 80% of the vote. “I am grateful to the voters in Creswell for selecting me to be their mayor,” Stram said. “I will do my very best to serve every Creswellian and focus my energies on carrying out the Mission of the City of Creswell.”

The crux of Stram’s platform included upholding the City’s mission to “provide quality, reliable and affordable city services … creating a safe, livable, attractive community with a unique small-town atmosphere.”

Stram served as mayor of Creswell from 2012- ‘18, and was appointed mayor from 2021- ‘22, following the resignation of former mayor Amy Knudsen. 

His opponent, Jane Vincent, 73, held a slim number at 395 votes. She said that “395 is better than nothing.” Moving forward, she hopes to serve on the budget committee. “My whole thing about running was to get the truth out to the people – that’s why I ran. So this might be a good way to do it … I’m just trying to get as much information for the people that I can.”

Councilor Alonso Costilla ran uncontested, and will serve his second term on Creswell City Council.

In Cottage Grove, Dana Merryday held a slim lead over Chris Holloman in Ward 3, garnering 51% of the vote, while Holloman trailed closely behind at nearly 49% of the votes. 

At press time, Merryday was waiting for the final tallies to be in before making any statements. He ran on a platform to “Grow’ve Together,” to bring back civility and consensus amongst residents of Cottage Grove. 

Holloman wanted to congratulate his opponent and neighbor, Merryday. He also commented on the treatment he received during his campaign. 

“I was surprised at the vitriol and the nastiness of some people. I was just stunned,” he said. 

Holloman spoke to being called a “bigot,” a “homophobe” and a “hater.”

“For people to say those things about me, it was just terrible,” he said. “I don’t wish that upon anybody. I think that this type of politics will discourage other good people from running and that’s a loss to our community. We lose when good people choose not to volunteer for these types of positions that take a lot of energy, work and time.” 

Incumbent Mike Fleck retained a slight edge over his opponents, with 54% of the vote for the Councilor at Large position, which he has held in spurts over five terms since 2003. Darrel Wilson trailed behind with nearly 34% of the vote, followed by Robert Kidder, with just over 13% of the vote. 

“It’s been a tough year,” Fleck said. “And I’d like to propose we start with a fresh slate. Even if we may not agree on certain items, I know every one of us truly believes in what’s best for our citizens.” 

Incumbent Chalice Savage won the Ward 1 race with 52% of the vote. This is her first election since being appointed to the city council in 2021. Her opponent Donald Morris, held only 48% of the vote. 

In Springfield, Incumbent Sean Van Gordon ran uncontested. Van Gordon has served on Springfield City Council since 2011, and was selected as interim mayor in January of 2021.

LOCAL LEVIES

The measure to ban psilocybin-related businesses in Creswell has 64% of voters in favor. In Cottage Grove, the split was much closer, with 52% of voters in favor. 

The Springfield Public Safety Levy, which renews police and jail operations is retaining 66% of voters in support. 

The countywide parks funding levy, aims at reinvesting and refurbishing local green spaces, is taking root with 60% of the vote. 

The South Lane County Fire and Rescue levy, which renews the current five-year local option tax for general operations, passed with 56% of voters in favor.

With more ballots still to be counted, these are the results as of noon Tuesday, Nov. 15. The votes tallied so far include ballots received through Monday, ballots received during Election Day morning ballot box collection and postmarked ballots. Final official results are not posted until Dec. 5. 

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