It’s election year; every two years roughly half the nine council seats are subject to a vote.  Although all details are not yet clear, we know that by next February the Council will have at least one new member.
The seat most immediately contested is that of Ward 7 Councilman Bob Cannon.  Cannon recently announced that he would not complete his course, which was to last until the end of the year.  Two men have filed to fill the open seat: Evan D White and Warren Bednarz.  Bednarz has had more than 31 years experience in real estate development and property management and has participated in Salem’s urban development and planning as a citizen.

Evan D. White, a retired PUC engineer and economist, is Bednarz’s opponent.   As someone who’d spent his professional life analyzing public services (electricity, water, natural gas) for maximum efficiency, White became active in his Neighborhood Association and began attending meetings of Land Use Network, a group that meets once a month with city planners and city staff.  When we spoke with White, he said his economist experience makes him an ideal resource for Salem’s Mayor and the eight other members of the Council.  He’d like to help craft a “clearer, more efficient government.”

Diana Dickey, who held the post of Councilor of Ward 5 since 2008, declared in January of 2012 that she would not stay her full term, which ends December of 2012.  But when no one filed to run to replace her, Ms. Dickey refilled on February 6, 2012.

In December 2011, Ward 8 Councilor Dan Clem registered to run for a new post, Polk County Commissioner.  Clem’s City Council term would have ended in 2014.  His opponents in the Polk County Commissioner race are incumbent Jennifer Wheeler and Monmouth City Councilor Steve Milligan.

If Clem should prevail against these two by more than 50% of the vote in May, he’ll win the position of Polk County Commissioner.   If he is one of the top two, he’ll participate in a run-off in the general election this November.  If he is victorious in either, he’ll begin his County Commissioner term in January 2013 and will be unable to serve out his Salem City Council term.  At whatever point this happens – if it happens – the City Council will appoint another citizen to fill out the rest of Clem’s term.

More City Council races may yet appear as the date to file to run is still a few weeks away.  Ballots for the vote will be sent out April 16 and must be returned by election day, May 15.
Those who have not yet registered to vote in the election must turn their election registration cards in by the April 24th deadline if they wish to vote in these primaries.

Our City Council is comprised of eight non-partisan, unpaid Councilors, one from each of the city’s eight Wards and also Salem’s Mayor.

The seats which may be in question are Ward 1, Ward 3, Ward 5, Ward 7 as well as the Mayor’s seat.

The date to file to run in these elections is March 6, 2012; election day is May 15, 2012.  Those who prevail will take office in January of 2013.

At this time, Councilors for Wards 1 (Chuck Bennett,) Ward 3 (Brad Nanke) and Ward 5 (Diana Dickey) and the position of Mayor (Anna Peterson) are unopposed in their quest for reelection.