COTTAGE GROVE – Chalice Savage wasn’t deterred after she lost the council race last election; instead, she persisted.
This week, that persistence paid off.
Savage’s ramped-up community involvement was evident to Cottage Grove City councilors, who on Monday appointed Savage to the Ward 1 position. The seat had been vacant since the resignation of councilor Jake Boone on Feb. 4, and the council received six applications for the position: Savage, Scott Borgioli, Duane Taddei, Jennifer Crosby, Donn Rust and Billy Reed. Councilor Kenneth Roberts first motioned a vote for Taddei, and did not get a second. Roberts cast the oppositional vote for Savage.
“It was International Women’s Day and there I was being appointed a city councilor in this little town,” Savage said. “It feels so good, and I feel so much support around town.”
Eager to get to work, instead of popping champagne on Monday night she said she went home and cracked open the budget.
“I came home last night and kind of giggled with glee,” she said. “I started reading the budget and clearing out my calendar, like ‘Okay, here we go. What can I do? Let’s actually get to work now.’”
Savage will serve the remaining term until Dec. 31, 2022.
Savage, 39, ran for the at-large position on the council in November 2020 against incumbent Roberts and lost by about 1,500 votes. When the council seat in her ward became vacant, she applied.
“I had no idea this was going to work out the way that it did. It is truly a wonderful blessing,” she said. “I was not discouraged at all when I didn’t win in November. I kind of expected it. I was going up against somebody who’s incredibly well-known, and has been in that seat for a long time. I am kind of a no-name; I’ve always been kind of behind the scenes, and there’s really no reason to draw attention to myself.”
After the election, she said councilors encouraged her to get more involved in the community, and she took it to heart.
“I can’t help but get involved,” she said. “It’s just the nature of who I am as a person. I’ve never stopped going to city council meetings from the moment that I announced that I was going to be running last summer. I’ve attended every single city council meeting.” She was appointed to the city’s budget committee in January, and joined the Cottage Grove Chamber board last year.
That continuous effort and community involvement after the November election paid off, as it was a key factor in council discussion.
“I really appreciate people who take the time to learn about government – especially our government – why we do things, so that they can become informed when they ultimately run for a seat. Chalice has taken time to run for office, she’s applied for the budget committee, she reads a lot of the stuff we’ve done. I also do want a diverse board.”
“I put merit into the fact that Chalice put a lot of effort into running,” said councilor Candace Solesbee. “She is definitely qualified and she’s gotten even more involved with different boards since she ran for councilor, which speaks volumes of her involvement and I respect that a lot.”
Savage has lived in Cottage Grove about eight years. She is an executive assistant and project manager at Blackstone Inc., a strategic marketing company that operates out of the Bank Building in Historic Downtown.
Savage worked for 15 years in Oregon hospitals as both a certified nursing assistant and in administration. She owns and operates Snap Savage Photography, and is a mother to three children – two sons and a daughter.
Savage said she would like to prioritize the changes to the monthly water bill and help fuel the rental market.
Building new homes and commercial spaces and rehabbing existing homes and storefronts are equally important, Savage said. “Building new homes allows for the older homes to be rehabbed ... the city is enhanced by the wonderful historic buildings. I think it’s really powerful that there are some amazing historical buildings here in town. We also need new homes.”
Savage emphasized that growth opportunities were for the local Cottage Grove population, not drawing new people to town.
“There is virtually nothing on the rental market and very few homes are being built. Multi-unit tax exemption helps the owner once the unit is built, but redefining the pricing for System Development Charges will help the developer start the build. There is a reason multi-unit housing has hardly happened since the ’80s.
“We don’t necessarily need new folks coming into town. I’m talking about providing housing for people who are now here. I have friends that have kids who have gone to school here and graduated high school here but need to leave town because there’s just no apartments available. It’s about sustaining what we already have and catering to the folks who already live here,” she said.
Savage said she wants to be a champion in “proactive communication” with residents. “They are often creating an inaccurate narrative due to a lack of proactive communication,” she said, and said she looks forward to conversations with her Ward 1 neighbors.
To celebrate, Savage said she had a celebratory dinner at Coast Fork Brewing with her family on Tuesday.