Five residents will be on the ballot for Lincoln City Mayor, including a former mayor, current and former city councilors, a fiscal administrator and a surfer.
The mayor vacancy, created by Dick Anderson’s upward move to the Oregon State Senate, forced the Lincoln City City Council to make a decision whether to appoint a new mayor to finish off Anderson’s term or to bring it to voters for a special election. Council opted for the latter and an election will be held May 18.
Whoever wins will fill the role of Lincoln City Mayor for 18 months.
Former Lincoln City Mayor Don Williams has thrown his hat back in the ring to finish Anderson’s term because he says the people of Lincoln City need it.
“Lincoln City has many challenges. It needs consistent, experienced leadership,” Williams said. “As a former planning commissioner and former mayor of this great city, I am ready and able to work for all the people from day one. I’m fully qualified and experienced to step into the mayor’s position so that I would be able to serve with little lag time.”
Williams was Lincoln City Mayor from 2014-2018, having won in a landslide against City Councilor Roger Sprague. He and his wife, Debbie, have started and operated four businesses and his son has founded two.
“Lincoln City is so full of opportunities for those that dream,” he said. “As mayor I always advocated for dreamers; whether entrepreneurs in business or charities to help those in need. My goal was to eliminate barriers to success, to encourage our youth to see a future here and to grow our citizenship.”
Susan Wahlke, a Lincoln County resident for 30 years, wants to be Lincoln City’s next Mayor because she feels that she is the most qualified person for the office.
“This past year has been challenging for all of us and we need to work together to expand our economy beyond tourism, attract new businesses and help our current businesses to grow,” Wahlke said. “We need to continue to maintain and strengthen our infrastructure and budget for our long-term needs. As Mayor I will listen. In a leadership role, often listening is more important than talking. I have the skills and experience necessary to be Lincoln City’s next Mayor.”
Wahlke raised two daughters who graduated from Taft High in Lincoln City, where she was a legal secretary for many years. She has served on the Chamber of Commerce board, Lincoln City Budget Committee and as a Ward 1 City Councilor. Wahlke has also been chair of the Urban Renewal Agency, and was elected by peers as Council President. She currently serves on the Devils Lake Water Improvement District Budget Committee, Kiwanis Club of Lincoln City as secretary, non-profit Business for Excellence in Youth as treasurer, Bay Area Merchants Association as president, and American Association of University Women as Northwest District Director.
Fernando Garza has been a Lincoln City resident for five years and has 25 years of experience in fiscal and senior administration departments. He’s worked with budgets, nonprofits and has developed and facilitated English training for Spanish speakers.
Garza says he has been watching Lincoln City government for four years, studying budgets and analyzing city officials and their decisions. Garza’s plan “is to show everyone that being mayor is about getting incredibly involved, by showing that I care about the people of this city, about listening and doing my best to help make changes happen.”
“A rising tide lifts all boats, but we need to remember that not everyone in Lincoln City is in the boat yet,” Garza said. “There are many challenges we face that have existed for decades, high levels of homelessness, lack of safety planning, irresponsible economic development projects and a local government without accountability. These are all difficult problems that can only be fixed with strong focus and commitment. I’m ready to make that commitment because I am dedicating my life to making Lincoln City better.”
Riley Hoagland is a sitting Ward 2 City Councilor who is also the Budget Committee Chairman.
“The city needs a leader who represents the working parents, the small business owners, entrepreneurs, and independent contractors,” Hoagland said. “I believe I am the best candidate for office. My experience in local government has been listening, learning, and love.”
Hoagland is an avid outdoorsman whose passions involve hiking, fishing and kayaking. He says Lincoln City is “paradise” and he “can’t get over these sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.” Hoagland says he knows how the city works and will ask the important questions to make Lincoln City better (like soap in all the outdoor public restrooms).
“I listen to residents, vacationers, and employees and take that time seriously,” Hoagland said. “It’s a place where I learn what the city needs. I make myself available and am open to new ideas and perspectives outside of my own. I take pride in our town and enjoy seeing it grow and flourish as an inclusive, family-oriented, rural Oregon beach town.”
Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic surfing competition founder John Forse is running for mayor because, “there are improprieties with the top three administrators at City Hall, that need to be reviewed and subdued for their suitability for employment.”
“It’s amazing they got in there in the first place based on their questionable resumes,” Forse said. “The last two or three years they’ve been here, they have proven time and time again their level of incompetence.”
Although Forse has no experience with city government, he says after reviewing transcripts, attending meetings and personal experiences with city staff, “common sense shows the City Attorney, City Manager and the head of Explore Lincoln City need to go.”
Stacey Baird withdrew from the mayoral race.