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Ashland council seat race will top ballot

ASHLAND — City Councilman Eric Navickas has decided to seek re-election and will face challenger Raymond Hanson, an Oregon Army National Guard member who returned from Iraq last spring.

Unless new candidates file paperwork to run for office by the Aug. 20 deadline, the face-off between Navickas and Hanson will be one of only a handful of contested races for city office in November.

The race between the two may prove to be the most spirited during what could be one of the least eventful election seasons Ashland has seen in years.

In the 2008 election, 17 candidates vied for six city positions. This year, 11 candidates have emerged for eight positions.

Navickas, known for his environmental activism, won a seat on the City Council in November 2006. He is an organic farmer, gallery owner and designer with a bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Oregon.

Hanson graduated from Ashland High School in 2002 and has spent seven-and-a-half years in the National Guard. After being on active duty for a year and serving in Iraq, he returned to Oregon in April.

Hanson is working part-time as the night manager of the Columbia Hotel downtown.

Hanson said he heard from many Ashland residents that they believe Navickas is too radical and outside the mainstream.

"I spent a month or so talking to people in Ashland," Hanson said. "I kept hearing people say, 'I wish someone would run against Eric.'"

Hanson described himself as a social liberal and a fiscal conservative.

He said he is concerned about the federal government intruding on the rights of Ashland residents to make decisions for themselves. Hanson said he would also like to keep the city government's budget under control and be the voice of the people on the City Council.

For his part, Navickas said he was encouraged by many residents to seek re-election. He said be doesn't believe he is too radical.

"I think anyone who's worked with me on the council knows that's not true. I can get along with both sides. I have the interests of the community in mind," Navickas said.

"I'm rooted in Ashland. I have a deep love for the community and I want to maintain the character that makes it unique," he added.

Navickas said he plans to run a clean campaign and is looking forward to debating issues on their merits.

In the only other contested City Council race, Southern Oregon University business professor Dennis Slattery and attorney Bruce Harrell are vying for the City Council seat now held by Kate Jackson. Jackson said she is not seeking re-election.

Incumbent Councilman David Chapman is seeking re-election and has no challengers yet.

The seats of three other council members and Ashland's mayor are not up for election this November. So far, no challengers have emerged against City Recorder Barbara Christensen, Ashland Municipal Judge Pamela Burkholder Turner or Parks Commissioner Rich Rosenthal.

In his re-election bid, Parks Commissioner Mike Gardiner is facing former Parks Commissioner Rick Landt.

Parks Commissioner Melody Noraas is not seeking re-election. Glass artist Stefani Seffinger, who is retired from a career as an educator in Ashland and a parks recreation director in California, is the only candidate to emerge for that position.

For more information on running for city office, visit www.ashland.or.us or call the office of the city recorder, who is also the city's elections officer, at 541-488-5307.

Vickie Aldous is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach her at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.

Raymond Hanson - Jamie Lusch