Ashland Mayor John Stromberg is enjoying a big lead in his bid for a second term against challenger Alan DeBoer, according to early returns with the Jackson County Elections Office.
DeBoer said he was "surprised" Stromberg took such a strong lead early on, but congratulated the mayor on a likely second term.
Stromberg had garnered 58.7 percent, or 5,181, of the votes tallied in Ashland's five precincts, according to county updates posted just after 10:20 p.m. on Tuesday. DeBoer had captured 34.7 percent, or 3,063 of the votes counted, and Keith Michael Erickson, or "Biome," had pulled in 552 votes, or 6.25 percent.
"I think it's pretty decisive at this point," said DeBoer, from his home in Ashland. "I'm not disappointed, the voters chose "… but I think I had a lot to offer the city."
Stromberg said he didn't take DeBoer's challenge lightly and he was skeptical about claiming an early victory.
"The numbers look promising "… but I never feel like I can predict how elections turn out," he said, stepping out of a regularly scheduled City Council meeting. "If it turns out that I actually have been elected, it's going to be exciting "… we are really on a path together to determine what the city is going to be in the future."
In his campaign to be re-elected, Stromberg said, his priorities include thinning in the Ashland watershed to reduce wildfire risk, upgrading the city's water and sewer systems and planting trees along Bear Creek to cool its water and offset the impact of the warm treated effluent that Ashland empties into the creek.
"In the last four years, this community has been engaging its future," Stromberg said, pointing to its efforts to localize food production and encourage sustainable energy. And he hopes to continue those efforts.
"I had a campaign that drew on the connections I've built over these years within the community," he said. "Alan is a serious challenger "… he grew up here, he is a genuine philanthropist."
DeBoer, who served as mayor from 2001 to 2005, said he believed Ashland was veering off course on several fronts, particularly in its communication with citizens.
"Clearly, we need more communication with citizens "… more involvement and not less," he said.
DeBoer said he would continue to volunteer and lend his support around the community.
Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email firstname.lastname@example.org