ASHLAND, Ore. – After several terms in office, Ashland Mayor John Stromberg is not running for reelection. The race to replace Stromberg is now between two candidates – already involved in city politics. Both candidates for Ashland mayor say the issues are ever-changing in this unusual campaign season. But as election day approaches, they’re out gathering support in what could be a close race.
Non-profit founder and Ashland City Councilor Julie Akins is trying to implement change in her community.
One of her main focuses – creating affordable housing in the community.
“I’ve been talking about that for many years. And I’m still talking about that. We need to enable builders to build here in safe, sustainable ways. In ways that keep Ashland, Ashland,” said Akins.
Her opponent, fellow City Councilor Tonya Graham, works for a non-profit that goes into communities to help fight climate change. She wants to see the city do things differently.
“We have challenges that we can’t solve with the same thinking that got us into these situations. That’s really the challenge of local government going forward is how do we meet these challenges in a way that embraces the community and sets us towards a vision that we want for Ashland,” said Graham.
Graham has spent the run-up to the election holding conversations with residents in Lithia Park, listening to what they want in local government.
The next mayor of Ashland needs to be someone who is going to engage with those people, make sure that there are opportunities for them participate meaningfully in creating solutions and to be able to communicate with them so that they understand what’s happening at city government, why it’s happening and what it means for them.
Akins says she and her fellow councilor both love the city they represent, they just have different priorities for Ashland.
“We’re in the midst of a recovering after an enormous fire in the Rogue Valley. And climate crisis, which gets worse every year so my priorities speak to that,” said Atkins.
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