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Two races set for Ashland council positions

Ashland voters will have choices to make in two of three council races on the November ballot.

With the filing period for local positions closing Thursday, Councilor Pam Marsh finds herself with an opponent and two candidates will run for the seat being vacated by Councilor Dennis Slattery.

Open city positions for the election include City Council positions 2, 4 and 6, Parks and Recreation Commission positions 3, 4 and 5, city recorder and municipal judge. All positions have four-year terms and only the two council positions will have more than one candidate.

Slattery, elected in 2010, has said he is not seeking re-election in order to focus on the challenges facing Southern Oregon University, where he teaches accounting in the School of Business. 

Running to fill the open Position 4, currently held by Slattery, are Stefani Seffinger and Biome Michael Erickson.

Seffinger is the current chair of Ashland's Parks and Recreation Commission. She was elected to the commission in 2010 and appointed chairwoman by her fellow commissioners in 2013 and 2014. Seffinger also represents the commission on the city's Forest Lands Commission. Seffinger said she became interested in running for the council after her experiences on these commissions. 

"I've become more knowledgeable about city government and how it operates," she said. "I want to have more of an impact, and I think I can have a positive impact on the community. I feel like I'm in tune with the needs and wants of residents."

Seffinger said she hopes to use her experience to encourage city departments and commissions to work together, pointing to a memorandum of understanding between the Parks and Recreation Commission and City Council that she helped create and which addresses management of the Parks Department.

"I think that open communication and transparency is very important," she said.

Seffinger also said that some of her goals, if elected, are to support the senior population in the city, find ways to use the city's financial resources as efficiently as possible and preserve the city's historic qualities.

Erickson entered Ashland politics in 2012 when he ran for mayor. He currently is the production foreman at Pickled Planet, an organic sauerkraut and pickle company.

While running for mayor in 2012, Erickson said that city government should invest in local services and boost organic food and renewable energy production. He also supported the idea of city government helping the homeless and impoverished by supporting drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities and designating sites for homeless people to sleep. Erickson could not be reached for comment.

Councilor Pam Marsh will run to maintain her Position 6 seat on the council. Marsh was appointed to the position in 2012  to fill a vacancy. 

"When I look back at what we've accomplished in the year and a half I've been on the council, I'm a little astonished," Marsh said. "We work well together and are very focused on outcomes. Even though we don't always agree, we can usually logic our way to good decisions."

Marsh hopes that with a full term, she'll be able to see through some large projects such as economic development with the Ashland Fiber Network, the Forest Resiliency Project and the "Ashland 20/20" guide. 

Marsh is also interested in getting more residents to participate.

"The most satisfying thing is when we can engage them in our decisions," she said.

Also running for Position 6 is Theo White. White lists academic coach at SOU as his current employment. He has a bachelor's degree in health, physical education and leadership from SOU and a master's in special education from University of Phoenix. White could not be reached for comment. 

Michael Morris will have no opposition on the ballot as he seeks a second term on the council for position No. 2. He was first elected in 2010 after 13 years on the city's Planning Commission and also has served on the Historic Commission, the Citizens' Budget Committee, the Airport Commission and the Normal Neighborhood Plan Working Group.

Mike Gardiner and Rick Landt  will be unopposed on the ballot for their Parks and Recreation Commission positions, No. 3 and No. 5, respectively. Gardiner was first elected to the commission in 2002 and served for two consecutive terms. In 2012, he came back to the commission after being appointed to fill a vacant seat. Landt served his first term on the commission in 1998 and was elected for a second term in 2010. 

There is no candidate on the ballot for Parks and Recreation Commission Position 4.

Pamela Burkholder Turner will run unopposed for a third consecutive term as Ashland municipal judge. Turner was first elected in 2006 and previously held the position as judge pro tem from 1987 through 2006. 

Barbara Christianson is also unopposed as she seeks her sixth consecutive term as city recorder and treasurer. Christianson was first elected in 1994. 

Election day is Nov. 4. The deadline for voter registration is Oct. 14. Residents can check their registration status, and register, on the

Oregon Secretary of State website.

Email reporter Ian Hand at ihand@dailytidings.com or call him at 253-722-4071. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/IanHand_DT.