Bill L. Dillard Jr. named mayor of Nehalem

by Jordan Wolfe

Bill L. Dillard Jr. struck the gavel for the first time as mayor on June 13.

“I have to say, I really don’t like not being able to vote,” he said with a laugh. As a member of Nehalem’s city council for almost fifteen years, Dillard said he had gotten used to the role.

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As the Council President, Dillard succeeded former mayor Dale Stockton, whom retired on May 9, after serving on city council and as mayor for a total of 49 years and nine months.

“Not many people can say they’ve served alongside men who have served for 30 or 40 years. They have a lot of knowledge and are always willing to share if asked,” Dillard said.

Among the people he has served alongside was his father, William Lee Dillard, who was mayor of Nehalem for 29 years and two months, according to Dale Shafer, city manager and recorder for the City of Nehalem.

“We have been very lucky to have people who are elected mayor who want to keep serving,” Shafer said of the tradition of long-serving mayors, including Shirley Kalkhoven’s decade-long tenure as mayor.

Dillard admitted he has rather large shoes to fill.

“I know I can’t do all the things Shirley could,” he said, citing his time restraints with work commitments and the time he spends with his family and children.

“It’s a whole new learning process; I’m always learning,” Dillard said. “I hope I can step up to the plate and see fit to elect me when it comes time.”

Elections for mayor and some council seats will occur in November, according to Shafer, but the vacancy left by Dillard means the city is accepting applications to fill the council seat.

“We have 30 days to take applications,” Shafer said of the vacant council seat, and added that applications are available at Nehalem City Hall on 35900 Eighth Street.

For Dillard, he said he has a positive outlook on the future of Nehalem, but addressed issues such as the lack of affordable housing, yet difficulties in building due to issues the city has with water. However, he added he plans to support and encourage the local businesses in any way he and the council can.

“He’s a lifetime resident, we’re lucky to have him,” Shafer said of the new mayor. “He does a great job. He is even-handed, fair and sees all sides before he makes a decision.”