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Wheeler will run unopposed for 3rd term

Medford Mayor Gary Wheeler appears ready to extend his leadership of the city to a dozen years, after no candidate filed to oppose him in the Nov. 6 election.

Barring successful write-in campaigns by challengers, Wheeler will be joined on the council in 2013 by incumbent Councilman Chris Corcoran of Ward 3 and Daniel Bunn, Jr., who is seeking a Ward 4 seat. Both will be unopposed on the ballot.

Following passage of the Aug. 10 deadline to register as a candidate, contested races for the Medford council seats will be limited to two of the five positions on the ballot.

Wheeler, who has been mayor since 2004, said he's happy the public has enough confidence in him to send him to a third term. He said he hopes to continue efforts to improve Medford's economy and bring more business to the Rogue Valley.

"Medford is still the economic driver for the Southern Oregon region," Wheeler said. "So, I want to attract good businesses and good employers into the entire area, not just downtown Medford."

Although he will have no opponent on the ballot, Wheeler said he's not going to campaign "from an easy chair," and plans to start going door-to-door soon.

Last-minute paperwork filed on Thursday by local business owner Clay Bearson gave incumbent Eli Matthews a challenger for his seat in southwest Medford's Ward 2. Matthews was appointed to the council in May to replace Jim Kuntz.

Bearson said Monday he hopes to draw more business and people to downtown Medford. Although he didn't give specific ideas for how he plans to accomplish that, he said he would work with local business owners to improve some buildings' aesthetics.

The 36-year-old South Medford High School graduate is the owner of The Gypsy, a downtown blues bar and restaurant. Bearson, who plays guitar and sings in a local rock band, is a member of the city's Parking Commission and a member of the Independent Party, who said he sees "both sides of the coin."

A Medford resident since 1985, Bearson said he's been interested in becoming more involved in local politics for several years.

"I'm looking forward to this," he said.

Matthews, 29, said he is eager to take on a contested election.

"The future candidate is in the voters' hands instead of just winning by the default," Matthews said. "I'll be knocking on the doors of voters soon."

Matthews, who is an employee of ComNet Marketing Group, has been working on efforts to build a new fire station in his southwest city district. He said he plans to continue focusing on public safety if elected.

Matthews also supports the $14.5 million bond levy to pay for new pools at Hawthorne and Jackson parks.

"I'm really excited for the future," he said.

The other contested City Council race is between incumbent Dick Gordon and businessman Curt Ankerberg for a Ward 1 seat in northeast Medford.

Reach University of Oregon reporting intern Josephine Woolington at 541-776-4368 or jwoolington@mailtribune.com