LINCOLN CITY — Two candidates are vying for the Lincoln City City Council seat left vacant by the resignation of councilor Diana Hinton in April, with ballots for a Sept. 21 special election mailed out on Sept. 1.

Fernando Garza and Elaine Starmer are both on the ballot in this special election, which was called by the council earlier this year in lieu of appointing a new member by council vote.

The council opted to conduct a special election, rather than wait until the upcoming November election, so that all council seats would be filled when it has to consider candidates for Lincoln City’s open city manager position in the next few months.

Ballots can be dropped off at any valid Lincoln County ballot box, including Lincoln City City Hall and the Lincoln County Courthouse in Newport. The deadline for sending mail-in ballots will be Sept. 14, while ballot boxes will be open until Sept. 21.

The following information was provided by the candidates as part of the special election’s voter pamphlet. They are listed in the order they appear on the ballot

Fernando Garza

Garza is the Lincoln County contracted Spanish interpreter and owner of his own business, Little Shepherd Interpreters. His prior governmental experience includes running for mayor in Lincoln City’s 2021 special mayoral election.

He has been a small business owner for 25 years and has a background working for several fiscal administrative departments, with his areas of expertise spanning payroll, office management, manufacturing, retail, nonprofit budget management and budget analysis.

Garza’s educational background includes a Bachelors of Business Management from Warner Pacific College Portland; an Administrative Accounting Associates Degree from Boise I.T.T.; and credentials as an Oregon qualified medical interpreter for English and Spanish. He is a member of the Oregon HealthCare Interpreters Association.

The following statement from Garza is included in the special election voter’s pamphlet:

There are many challenges that we face that have existed for decades, such as lack of affordable housing, lack of safety preparedness, irresponsible economic development projects and a local government without accountability. I give you my word as your Ward 1 council member of Lincoln City, to be your voice.

I have gained my competencies for running for office through my 25 years of experience in a variety of fiscal and senior administrative departments, including managing nonprofit budgets, budget analysis and audits. 

I believe I can assist in co-creating a culture of excellence in leadership and communications within our city offices and effectively craft strategies to be implemented by all of us using more of a governance mentality versus the common governing mentality that often comes with years of being in office. I look forward to bringing a fresh perspective to all the issues brought before the city.

I first visited Lincoln City 28 years ago with my wife, Shannon. We fell in love with this community, and our wish to build a life here came true five years ago. I am excited to share with you my goals and vision of Lincoln City.

Elaine Starmer 

Starmer works as a senior infrastructure project manager and her prior governmental experience includes serving on the Lincoln City Budget Committee from 2019 to 2021. 

Her occupational background includes 10 years experience working for BlueShield of California, 23 years working for ConvergeOne, Technology and Infrastructure and five years with NACR Quality Analysis.

She lists her educational background as having attended Sacramento City College and holds a project management professional certification from 1998 to present.

The following statement from Starmer is included in the special election voter’s pamphlet:

Nine years ago, my husband and I moved to Lincoln City. Today, I ask for your vote for city council.

My project management and budget skills are highly applicable to the role of city councilor. Diana Hinton, who last held this seat, has a similar background, which may be the reason she encouraged me to run. She knew the seat would be in good hands.

My experience on the Lincoln City Budget Committee was an exceptional training ground for learning how a city works and understanding its challenges.

Our infrastructure is aging while demand and maintenance costs are increasing. We need several large infrastructure projects to keep our roads, water, sewer and structures in a condition that serves the needs of our community. The demand on city services, such as the police department, is also increasing. We must grow revenue if we are to meet the needs of residents and visitors alike. Our tourism should bear an equal share of the revenue challenge to prevent unfair burden on residents. 

All industries create costs to the cities they reside in, including tourism. The key is knowing fully what these costs are. I asked city leaders to commission a data-driven cost benefit analysis of tourism on our city. The results should empower city leaders to make a case to the state of Oregon to modify how transient room tax funds are allocated to the city budget. A greater share of TRT funds should be funneled to infrastructure and city services. 

My goal as city councilor is to help our city make revenue growth decisions in an equitable and balanced manner for both residents and tourism. 

I am endorsed by Mayor Susan Wahlke, Diana Hinton and Mitch Parsons.

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