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Marsh, Seffinger win big in Ashland council races

Pam Marsh retained her City Council seat in a landslide Tuesday, while Steffini Seffinger is making the move up from the Parks and Recreation Commission after a similarly lopsided win.

Marsh, who was appointed to City Council in December 2012 to fill a vacant seat, was leading the contest with 90.78 percent, or 5,977 votes, to challenger Theo White's 8.64 percent, or 569 votes, according to a 10 p.m. count from the Jackson County Elections Office.

"I'm really pleased to get another four years on the council," Marsh said Tuesday night. "I feel like those first two years got the learning curve under my belt, and now I better understand the job. Now I can spend the next four years really being able to dive into the issues."

Marsh also said she was happy that the council will remain largely the same moving forward.

"We all worked really well together in the past," she said. "I think we're in a position to do some really good things."

Seffinger was crushing her opponent, Biome Michael Erickson, 91.19 percent to 8.36 percent, for the seat being vacated by Dennis Slattery.

Seffinger said Tuesday night that her campaign focus has been one of learning.

"I was able to meet with people from all parts of the community," she said. "That's the richest part of campaigning; learning all sides of the issue. I like looking at different ways to approach problem solving in order to bring people on both sides of an issue together."

Seffinger said she was excited to give back in this position. 

"I'm at a point in my life where I have the time and the energy to give back to the community," she said. "I don't do this for other political aspirations or goals, I hope to just be a positive force."

Seffinger will retain her seat as the chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission through December, and she said she'll remain an advocate for the parks while on council. 

"I'm going to have to give up that hat to some degree in order to be objective and an advocate for all the departments," she said. "But I'll remain an advocate for the environment and the parks. I feel that the parks offer invaluable experiences for the people of Ashland." 

Councilor Michael Morris will retain his seat after running uncontested. 

The six-person council serves as the governing body of Ashland along with the mayor. They are the authority over all matters of city-wide concern and own all city land and assets. Much of the city's business evolves through the work of around 250 employees and citizen committees that report to the council for approval. The city operates with a biennial budget of $202.1 million.

In March, the council began working on long-term city goals for the next six years. The goals are separated into seven broad categories: government, organization, energy and infrastructure, people, environment, economy and public safety. These broad categories have 23 goals and 54 objectives.

In October, the council selected five priority goals to be considered for funding in the next budget cycle. Those goals are to protect the integrity and safety of the watershed, market and further develop the Ashland Fiber Network, seek opportunities to enable all citizens to meet basic needs, evaluate real property and facility assets to strategically support city missions and goals and prepare for the impact of climate change on the community. The council adopted these goals during Tuesday night's business meeting and discussed the development of AFN.

"We've laid out that blueprint for the next five years," Marsh said. "There's plenty of work ahead of us."

Pam Marsh
Stefani Seffinger