Polarization at the polls: Opposites attract Nehalem voters

Occupy Wall Street co-creator Micah White is running against incumbent William Dillard, Jr. in the upcoming Nehalem mayoral election, Nov. 8.

By Ann Powers

And like many opponents, the two have very different ideas on achieving community unity – along with very different backgrounds.

Dillard was raised in Nehalem, graduated from Neah-Kah-Nie High School and completed one year of college at Chemeketa in Salem. He currently works for the phone company, has served on the Nehalem City Council since 2003, was a local firefighter for 14 years and was appointed mayor last May.

Nehalem Mayor William Dillard, Jr. is sworn into office last May.
Nehalem Mayor William Dillard, Jr. is sworn into office last May.

He and his wife, Nancy, have three children – two in college and one in high school.

Dillard, whose father was also mayor in Nehalem for many years, takes a more laid back, if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it approach. He advocates maintaining the status quo.

“I’d like to see it stay the same,” he said.

White moved to Nehalem from Berkeley in 2012 with his wife and collaborator, Chiara Ricciardone. The young couple now has a one-year-old son, Zia, but first met at Swarthmore College where they earned their bachelors degrees in 2005, with MAs to follow.

White earned his PhD from European Graduate School in Switzerland and Ricciardone is currently finishing up her doctorate, which she’ll receive from UC-Berkeley.

Nehalem mayoral candidate Micah White, his wife Chiara Ricciardone, and their son Zia, join a recent Nehalem People’s Association Meeting at the North Coast Recreation District. Citizen photo/Ann Powers

The Occupy Wall Street movement helped raised the social consciousness of Americans and brought attention to the disparity of wealth between the classes. Although White said Occupy did not meet its ultimate goal of getting money out of politics, it did raise awareness to the need for a true democracy.

He brings the lessons of what he calls Occupy’s “constructive failure” to Nehalem, his formation of the Nehalem People’s Association (NPA), his campaign for mayor and encourages others to run for elected office as well.

In his book, The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution, White writes:

“The rural uprising begins when revolutionary activists distribute ourselves into pre-existing micro-cities in Cascadia, ensuring that in each place there are enough of us to sway every local election. And we embrace the hard work of self-governance. We aspire to master city administration.”

He noted that the Nehalem City Council seems to be “friends appointing friends” and lacks imagination on how to spend the city’s generous timber revenue for the common good.

“I’m concerned because the majority of our city council (four out of five) were not elected by voters, they were appointed to their current positions,” he explained. “And the fifth councilor was selected after an uncontested election. Fortunately, these are good people, good neighbors and friends of us all. I applaud them for their service. They’ve done their best. But that does not make them the best leaders for Nehalem.”

Dillard doesn’t mind the friends approach and has no problem with reserving the timber money as a kind of rainy-day fund.

“When you’ve lived here long enough, everyone is a friend,” he said. “I’d like to have 10 years in reserve. We can build a city hall with no impact to the tax base because of the timber harvest. We can also upgrade the water system with no substantial impact to taxes.”

White said if elected, he pledges to be “responsive, welcoming and positive” by holding the NPA’s open community gatherings prior to each city council meeting, maintain a community newsletter, develop a Vision Committee to work on a 100-year plan for the city, and give residents the information and the power over the decisions being made by their council.

Dillard said residents already have the opportunity to voice their opinions at city council meetings and sees no reason to change that structure – too much.

“Sometimes we don’t talk enough,” he said. “(The public) is allowed to speak if they plan ahead and get on the agenda – then they’re on the agenda.”

Dillard added if he was re-elected, he has no major changes in store.

“There’s nothing new on my plate right now,” he explained. “I’ll be here, I’ve been here, I’ll always be here.”

For more information about White, got to To learn more about NPA, visit

Mayor Dillard can be reached at 503-368-6737.

November 8, 2016





The City of Nehalem has the following positions and measures for the November 8, 2016 General Election:


Imposes three percent city sales tax on recreational marijuana and marijuana items

Positions Open for Election for Terms Beginning January 2017:


Current Candidate Filings:

William (Bill) L. Dillard, Jr. (incumbent running for re-election)

Micah White

City Council Position 1

Current Candidate Filings:

Hilary Howell (incumbent running for re-election)

Brooke Hua

City Council Position 2

Current Candidate Filings:

Stacy Jacobsen (incumbent running for re-election)

Jeremy Mulcahy-Hill

City Council Position 3

Current Candidate Filings:

Jim Welsh (incumbent running for re-election)

Lucy Brook

Questions?  Call 503-368-5627 or email