In the closest race among those vying for seats on the Rogue Valley Transportation District, Ashland's Steve Ryan was defeated for Position 5 by fewer than 750 votes Tuesday night.




Ryan, a Southern Oregon University student pursuing a master's degree in social science focusing on economics, has been a campus and local disabilities rights advocate for some time.




Joel Marks, who has been an RVTD director for one year, defeated Ryan with 51 percent of the vote. He garnered 10,822 votes to Ryan's 10,113 votes, or 47.87 percent.




Marks was unavailable for comment, but said during his campaign that he would seek new ways to fund service.




"If we do the right thing," he said, "we can have the services that people desire and need."




Newly elected board members will take their seats at the first board meeting in July.




In a surprisingly easy victory over a 25-year incumbent, computer consultant Rick Schreffler has won a seat on the board of directors.




Running against current board Chairman Edwin Chapman for Position 3, Schreffler opened with an early 61 percent to 38 percent lead in his contest and never looked back.




"It's a little bit of a shock," said Schreffler, who won 12,446 votes over Chapman's 7,684 as of 11 p.m. "But I'm ready to go."




During his campaign, Schreffler said he wanted to stimulate ridership by cutting fares, opening partnerships with businesses and taking advantage of federal and state transit programs.




He said the first thing he will do is take a close look at the budget.




"I think we can increase the budget so it becomes possible to provide good service and restore lost routes," he said.




The race for Position — was closer, but incumbent Connie Skillman prevailed with 58 percent, or 13,241 votes, over opponent Bonnie Lindsey's 41 percent, or 9,339 votes. This will be her second four-year term on the board.




"I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue serving," she said. "We will stay on course and continue to seek stable funding for the district."




She said that her long-term goal was to reach a point where the district could provide seven-day service.




"So people can get to their jobs or anywhere else," she said. "I think as we grow, that need is going to become an important imperative."




For most of the evening, the candidates for Position 2 remained within 1,000 votes of each other, but incumbent William Mansfield finally claimed victory over Karen Barlow with 51.6 percent. He garnered 11,900 votes to Barlow's 11,002 votes, or 47.69 percent.




He said the next step for him is to "get back to work and convince the public and business community that we need another funding source in order to improve our service."




Mansfield attended the RVTD budget hearing Tuesday evening, where he said the board approved next year's budget.




"It looks like it's tight," he said, "but we're not going to have to drop any routes this time."




He said that if new funding isn't found before the 2008-09 fiscal year, the district likely will have to make more cuts.




"If we could get the funding," he said, "we could restore No. 4, the hospital route. We hated to cut that."




The district ended the Rogue Valley Medical Center bus run last September.




"Public transportation is an important and viable element of our community," Mansfield said. "It's our job to find a way to make it work."