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Mayor: Freilinger – Traeger, Newton, Hammond headed to Silverton council

Jason Freilinger
Jason Freilinger

By James Day

Jason Freilinger, a 10-year city council veteran, has been elected Silverton mayor.

Freilinger will replace Kyle Palmer, who has served as both a councilor and mayor since 2004. Palmer chose not to seek reelection.

Although results have not been certified, Freilinger leads with 56.88% of the vote to 43.12% for planning commissioner Morry Jones.  Jones already has called to congratulate Freilinger on his victory in the Nov. 8 balloting.

During the campaign forums the two contenders vowed to work together no matter who won and Freilinger told Our Town he plans to reach out to Jones soon. Jones will remain a member of the city’s planning and budget committees.

In an interview Wednesday conducted while he was out picking up campaign signs, Freilinger said his first priority “is for us to come together as a community. It’s not Jason’s vision – it’s what we want as a community that is important.”

Freilinger opened his Wednesday with a dental appointment, perhaps an odd choice given the events of the previous night. But he told Our Town that he had scheduled the dental checkup months ago knowing it was the day after the election and that he would need the day off from work to pick up the signs.

Key challenges that Freilinger hopes he and the new City Council can work on in the next cycle are water infrastructure, parks, downtown and housing. 

It will be a very inexperienced council that Freilinger will be working with. Incumbents Dana Smith, Crystal Neideigh and Jim Sears chose not to seek re-election. Council newcomers Marie Traeger, April Newton and Eric Hammond are their likely successors.

Traeger, a corrections counselor with the state, spent 30 years as Silver Falls School District teacher. She lead the 7-candidate field election night with 24.22% of the vote, followed by Newton, a retired rural mail carrier and SACA and school district volunteer, at 21%. Hammond, a horticulturist and member of Sustainable Silverton, was third at 17.04%. At press time unofficial results showed a gap of more than 500 votes between Hammond and the 4th-place finisher.

Trailing the top 3 were Gregg Harris, owner of Silver Falls Terrariums and vice president of the Silverton Mural Society with 11.46%; Chuck Hawley, engineer and children’s book author, with 11.43%; Makai Brusa, juvenile corrections employee, at 7.60%; and Jenny Ohren, who works in hospitality, public health and social services, with 7.25%.

One of the first acts by the new council will be to appoint someone to replace Freilinger. The mayor-elect said that he has been juggling a number of ideas for how to move forward on the appointment and said he hopes to have a new member in place within a month after the Jan. 9 swearing in.

With just two holdovers, Elvi Cuellar Sutton and Jess Miller, Freilinger said “it will be very important that we get training prepared to get everyone on board.”

Freilinger said the current and in-coming councilors will meet in mid-December to talk about goals and priorities.

Pool levy

Also on the Silverton ballot was Measure 24-473, which easily passed with nearly 67% of the vote. The measure renews the city’s local option property tax levy that pays for pool maintenance and operations. This is the third renewal of the levy, which raises $1.375 million for 5 years. The rate of 28.45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value is not changing. That means a property owner with an assessment of $300,000 would pay $85.35 per year for the pool. Passage of the levy does not represent a tax increase. The levy pays for about $275,000 of the approximately $1 million pool budget.

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