First local election in fall goes smoothly

Lou Thurston won the competitive Hillsboro mayoral race with Charlotte Ken­nedy Takahashi by a vote of 520-200.
Lou Thurston won the competitive Hillsboro mayoral race with Charlotte Ken­nedy Takahashi by a vote of 520-200.
The Marion County Commission canvassed the votes Monday, but the final number of votes won’t be available until later in the week.

Even though the number of votes weren’t available at press time, the winners were, said Tina Spencer, county clerk.

In Hillsboro, Lou Thur­ston is the town’s next mayor, a position held by Delores Dalke for a total of 24 years,

Thurston’s victory marks the beginning of a new era in the city, he said. “It’s an honor to be at the beginning of that era.

“I’m very proud of citizens in Hillsboro for the voter turnout we had,” he said. “I was extremely humbled by how many people came out and voted for each candidate.”

The community answered the call by stepping up and being responsible in being part of the voting process, he said.

First order of business

Thurston said he plans to learn as much as possible before the swearing in ceremony Jan. 9.

Attending a lot of council meetings since the beginning of the year, Thursday said he has connected with Larry Paine, city administrator.

In addition to Thurston connecting with city officials, Jonah Gehring, also new to city government, is getting up to speed.

The analogy Thurston equated to running for a political office was that: “I had to crawl first, and then walked before ever thinking about running, so the first thing is certainly to be like a sponge and learn as much as possible.”

Thurston said he also sat down with Dalke after the election and started talking to her about issues affecting the citizens of Hillsboro.

“There is an important meeting involving the stakeholders of the Marion Coun­ty Community Economic Development Committee,” he said.

“I will be attending the next meeting at 6 p.m. this Thursday.”

Recognizing opponent

“I want to acknowledge Charlotte (Kennedy Takahashi) as a worthy opponent,” Thurston said. “She worked hard and ran a hard campaign, and the process worked.

“Voters were given a choice, and I am appreciative being chosen,” he said. “I see being the mayor as a service to be given—the mayor’s job is to serve the people, and not the other way around.”

Kennedy Takahashi was unavailable at press time.

Florence mayor wins

Florence Mayor Bob Gayle, the Republican incumbent, will serve another two years after defeating write-in candidate Dan Ludwig, but the exact number or votes is unavailable.

Gayle said he went door-to-door and learned a lot from the people he visited.

“I did get a certain amount of disagreement, but there were a lot of people who met me, but didn’t vote for me,” he said.

Meeting with constituents was a humbling experience at times, and Gayle said he couldn’t be prouder of Florence and the people, who he is grateful for their support.

‘I want everybody to know I am working for every­one—whether they voted for me or against me—the open door policy is absolutely the same,” he said.

Gayle said his first two years in office were rough.

“When you are new,” he said, “change is slow and people are hesitant to change.”

Big issues looming

The city of Florence is going to need to address the water lease, which is up in 2019, and Gayle said the other issue is the certification of the dam.

“FEMA is remapping Marion County, and we need to be certified,” he said. “Marion paid more than $175,000 for its levy, and it’s about the same length as what ours is.”

One thing Gayle said he believes is going to happen is figuring out a creative way to pay for the certification.

“We don’t have $175,000 to pull out of our hat, and in my opinion if we don’t do it, it will kill most of what is left of Florence.”

Gayle said the council will need to also look at its infrastructure, and in some ways we are in better condition than some cities.

“I do think the easier years are behind us,” he said.

Voter turnout

Spencer said Marion County saw a 30 percent voter turnout based on 7,840 eligible voters with 2,357 casting ballots.

Voters decided on school board and city council members, improvement and drainage districts and two special questions.

“A 30 percent voter turnout is good for city and school elections, which usually averages between 13-15 percent,” Spencer said.

In the preliminary votes, Spencer said Thurston won with 520 votes to Kennedy Takahashi’s 200 votes.

Eligible voters in Hillsboro totaled 1,688 with 39 percent voter turnout in Ward I and 40 percent turnout in Ward II, Spencer said.

Other contested races were in Peabody for mayor and school board, Florence city council positions, Goessel council positions, Ramona city council positions, and Centre School District board members.

In the Ramona city council race, five positions were open with six candidates filing, along with other active write-in campaigns.

Election results were unofficial until Monday when the commissioners canvassed the votes.Nov. 13.

The following are final results from contested races around the county:

• Hillsboro mayor: Lou Thurston

• Peabody mayor: Larry K. Larsen

• Ramona mayor: James Thompson

• Ramona City Council: Billy E. Alcorn, Mark Lockhart, Arthur Stroda, Benjamin S. Calvert, Rohani C. Alcorn

• Florence mayor: Robert B. Gayle Jr.

• Florence City Council Ward I: John Branson, Kenneth W. Hoffman

• Florence City Council Ward II: Matt Williams

• Goessel mayor: Dave Schrag

• Goessel City Council: Duane Adrian, Evan Esau

• USD 397 Position 4: Yvonne Burhoop

• USD 397 (Position 5): Eric Carlson

• USD 397 (Position 6): Heather Steiner

• USD 398 Peabody Schools (Positions 4, 5, 6 At Large): Shayla Clark, Tiana Gaines, Julia Ensminger

• On the question of whe­ther Marion County should create a county administrator position, the vote was “No.”