Seven candidates are vying for four open positions at Nehalem City Hall, including three council spots and the mayor’s seat, in the Nov. 8 general election.
By Ann Powers
In addition to the three hopefuls challenging the small coastal community’s incumbent officials, the word ‘contested’ seems to be another newcomer to the political scene in Nehalem.
Tillamook County Clerk Tassi O’Neil confirmed four of the five city council members, including Mayor William L. Dillard, Jr., were not elected by voters. Mayor Dillard, Council Members Hilary Howell, Stacy Jacobsen and Jim Welsh were all appointed.
And newcomers are challenging most of them. The candidate filings list:
Mayor, two-year term
• William (Bill) L. Dillard, Jr. (incumbent running for re-election)
• Micah White
City Council Position 1, two-year unexpired term
• Hilary Howell (incumbent running for re-election)
• Brooke Hua
City Council Position 2, four-year term
• Stacy Jacobsen (incumbent running for re-election)
• Jeremy Mulcahy-Hill
City Council Position 3, four-year term
• Jim Welsh (incumbent running for re-election)
• Lucy Brook
Hua is no longer actively campaigning.
“I feel I still have a lot to learn about the community and do not fee qualified for the position at this time,” she said.
But the others are, and they’re confident about securing the seats they seek.
Mayor of Nehalem
William (Bill) L. Dillard, Jr.
Dillard, 48, was raised in Nehalem, graduated from Neah-Kah-Nie High School and completed one year of community college at Chemeketa in Salem.
“I figured I liked working more,” he said. “I wanted to learn in the field that I loved doing.”
Dillard has worked at Nehalem Telecommunication since 1984, was elected to city council in 2003 and served as a local firefighter for 14 years. He also volunteered with the Merchants Association and served on the Nehalem Planning Commission, as well as the Oregon Independent Telephone Association.
As council president, and per city charter guidelines, he was appointed mayor last May when his predecessor, Dale Stockton, resigned. Dillard’s father was also a council member for many years. His opponent has accused him of being part of an old-boys’ network with “friends appointing friends.”
“My heredity had nothing to do with it,” Dillard wrote in a letter addressed to Micah White. “I will say I am sure that being a lifelong resident of Nehalem versus your three-plus years in Nehalem had much to do with my being selected to fill Dale Stockton’s shoes. They are big shoes to fill. I am proud to follow in his footsteps.”
Dillard said the primary concerns facing his hometown include available housing, traffic flow at the corner of 7th and H streets and community involvement “on a general basis, not just people getting involved because they want something.”
“I just want to represent the citizens of the town I grew up in and love to the best of my ability,” he added.
Micah M. White, Ph.D.
Like Dillard, White also holds his Nehalem neighbors in high esteem. Unlike Dillard, he doesn’t think they have enough of a voice.
“The most important issue facing Nehalem is the lack of responsive government,” said the Occupy Wall Street co-creator. “All other issues ultimately boil down to the need for city council to adopt a procedures that encourage more democracy, more public involvement and more citizen engagement in the decisions being made by the councilors.
I believe city council has a duty to consult with Nehalem residents prior to making decisions that impact our community and our lives.”
White, 34, moved to Nehalem from Berkeley in 2012 with his wife, Chiara Ricciardone. He has a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and earned his master’s degree and doctorate at European Graduate School in Switzerland.
White is also an author, speaker, Nehalem People’s Association founder and Nehalem Budget Committee member. He and Ricciardone have a one-year-old son.
City Council Position 1
Howell, 42, served on the city’s budget committee before being appointed to the council three months ago. She said she’s lived in the area “on and off” since 1990 and graduated from Neah-Kah-Nie High School.
Howell and her husband have run their own business, Howell’s Floor Covering, for 16 years. She said the three most important issues facing Nehalem include bringing in more businesses and tourism, expanding the Urban Growth Boundary and the lack of affordable long-term housing.
“I have owned and operated two businesses in the area and lived in Nehalem for the majority of my life,” Howell said. “I have experienced the generosity of the people in our community first hand and strive to keep that alive. I have been on the budget committee of Nehalem, so I have a good understanding of the workings of the city.”
City Council Position 2
Prior to his current four-month city council tenure, Stacy Jacobsen, 49, served on the Nehalem Planning Commission.
He owns North Coast Watchman Services in Manzanita, raised his five children in Nehalem with his wife Tamra, and is now the proud grandfather to three grandchildren.
“If elected my goal would be to not mess with something that isn’t broke,” Jacobsen said. “To maintain Nehalem’s beauty and charm, but at the same time keeping small town life left alone like it has been since long before I was born. (As) problems arise, or issues come up, of course I will do my best to make the right choices for the betterment of Nehalem and for the people that live here.”
The 30-year-old, father of four has become an active member of the community in the 17 years he’s lived in Nehalem. Mulcahy-Hill is the Manzanita Beach Walk & Run race director, a Manzanita Music Festival organizer, Tillamook County Year of Wellness representative, H.E. Warriors Boys NES running group coach and current head coach for the Neah-Kah-Nie Middle School Cross Country Team.
Mulcahy-Hill said he would like to see more diversity among council members, give rural Nehalem residents a vote in local government (only the 187 Nehalem residents living within city limits can vote in municipal elections) and help develop better plans for future infrastructure needs as the community grows.
Mulcahy-Hill is the youngest council contender and emphasized he doesn’t like to think of himself as the best candidate for the position.
“I am not running out of the thought that I can do a better job,” he explained. “I am running to offer a bit more diversity amongst the council. A city has a multitude of people living in it, so the council should be as varied as it’s city.”
City Council Position 3
In her 44 years as a Nehalem resident, Brook, age 74, is a Fulcrum Community Resources founding board member and treasurer, Friends of NCRD founding board member, LNCT’s Alder Creek Community Garden volunteer and serves on Nehalem’s Planning Commission.
Brook said better communication with residents, clean drinking water, affordable housing and reviewing Nehalem’s Comprehensive Plan top her to-do list if elected to city council.
“I will listen with respect and interest to every resident that wants to talk to me,” she said. “I will spend time learning the nuts and bolts of each issue. I will not come to city council with any preconceived opinion or bias.”
Prior to owning Manzanita News & Espresso for a decade, Brook worked in the financial/computer industry and as a landscaper. Now, she’s a yoga teacher at NCRD, participating in a second 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training, an outdoor enthusiast and avid food gardener.
“I love to play in our beautiful rivers and creeks in the summer,” she said. “My yoga teacher training emphasizes integrity, trust, compassion and sincerity. Integrity has been a guiding principle all my life.”
Jim Welsh was contacted, but not able to respond by press time. He will be included in our continued election coverage.
Also look to the upcoming editions of the North Coast Citizen and the Tillamook Headlight Herald for more election coverage, including news on council races in Manzanita and Wheeler prior to Election Day.