LINCOLN CITY — The Lincoln City City Council met Monday evening to welcome and swear in the newly elected council member before making the decision to hold a special election to fill the city’s vacant mayor seat.
The council met virtually over Zoom as it welcomed the newly elected Councilor AnneMarie Skinner, as well as returning councilors Diana Hinton, Riley Hoagland, Rick Mark, Mitch Parsons and and Judy Casper to the table. After the swearing in, the focus of the meeting quickly turned to the debate on how to fill the mayor’s seat.
Mayor Dick Anderson resigned his position Dec. 14 after being elected to the Oregon State Senate, leaving the council to decide how to fill his position, though he recommended holding a special election.
The discussion began with a motion by Hinton to appoint Susan Wahlke as mayor. Parsons pointed out that the council hadn’t settled on whether or not to appoint someone or hold an election and felt the council was getting ahead of itself.
Hinton said Wahlke had extensive government and professional experience in Lincoln City, including time on the city council. Hinton also said the mayoral election two years ago saw Wahlke come within 16 votes of taking the position against Anderson.
“That’s a pretty good showing of how the people of Lincoln City would feel about her being mayor,” Hinton said.
Mark agreed that Wahlke was qualified, but argued that there was a greater desire in the community to have another election instead. Mark added that with recent national events regarding challenges to democracy, it would be appropriate for the city to hold an election to help “send a message” that it supports the democratic process. Skinner agreed with Mark and called instead for a special election.
The motion to appoint Wahlke failed 4-2, and the council then voted unanimously to hold a special election in May instead.
Wahlke spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting and noted that Anderson was initially appointed to the city council following the resignation of a previous councilor and stressed that whomever would be elected council president later in the meeting would be filling the role of interim mayor until the election.
Casper was the only council member nominated to fill the council president position and was elected unanimously to the position.
The council went on to approve the special election, noting it will cost the city somewhere between $1,200 and $1,600 to hold it in May, as apposed to around $10,000 in if it were held in March.