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Morris to challenge Navickas for council

Ashland Planning Commissioner Michael Morris is challenging Eric Navickas for his position on the City Council, while Oregon Army National Guard member Raymond Hanson has dropped his bid to unseat Navickas.

Prospective candidates had until Aug. 20 to file their paperwork to seek office in the Nov. 2 general election. Since then, the Jackson County Elections Office has certified the final list of candidates based on whether each person turned in at least 25 valid signatures from registered Ashland voters.

Morris said he decided to run, in part, because city officials have spent years studying how to deal with the city's limited water supply, sewage problems and transportation issues without making final decisions.

Finding ways to minimize fire risk is another significant issue, especially in light of the recent Oak Knoll fire, he said.

Morris said he would describe himself as being to the right of Navickas politically, but still left of center.

"I'm independent and think for myself," he said.

Hanson, who had filed initial paperwork to challenge Navickas before Morris turned his in, said he withdrew from the race because of Morris' entry.

"My main intention was to get rid of Eric Navickas," Hanson said. "Mike (Morris) entered the race, and he's got a lot more qualifications and he's better known. I think he could do a better job than I could. I didn't want to split the votes."

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

In a previous interview, Navickas said he decided to seek re-election because he had been encouraged by many community members to run.

Morris attended Southern Oregon University when it was known as Southern Oregon College. He completed his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering technology at the Oregon Institute of Technology, worked as a senior design engineer for Boeing Co. and is now a self-employed contractor.

In the only other contested City Council race, SOU business professor Dennis Slattery and attorney Bruce Harrell are vying for the seat held by Kate Jackson. Jackson is not running for re-election.

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

Three other council seats and Ashland's mayor are not up for election this year.

Ashland Parks and Recreation Commissioner Rich Rosenthal, Municipal Court Judge Pamela Burkholder Turner and City Recorder Barbara Christensen have no challengers for re-election.

Former Parks Commissioner Rick Landt is facing off against commissioner Mike Gardiner.

Stefani Seffinger was the only prospective candidate for the Parks Commission seat being vacated by Melody Noraas, who is not seeking re-election. However, county elections officials ruled that too many of the signatures Seffinger collected were invalid, so she was bumped as a candidate. Seffinger will have to mount a write-in campaign.