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As the November 3 General Election approaches, candidates for the St. Helens City Council are emerging.

St. Helens City Council

This photo of a St. Helens City Council meeting earlier this year shows Keith Locke, far right, who said he will not run for reelection. Ginny Carlson, second from right, and Mayor Rick Scholl, center, both said they are running for reelection.

Three positions for the St. Helens City Council are open: Position 2 and Position 4 as well as the position of city mayor.

Two existing city council members have filed, or were planning to file bu the deadline, August 14, for reelection: Mayor Rick Scholl and Position 4 councilor Ginny Carlson.

Position 2 City Councilor Keith Locke said he will not be running for reelection.

“At this point in time, I’m not planning on running,” Locke said. “Just because I’m halfway moved out of the town and I’m retired, so 20 years is enough. I just want to make sure the projects that we have started continue, that’s all I have to say,” Locke said.

Locke was first elected to the city council position in 2000, and currently has a residence in St. Helens as well as one in Salem. He said he splits his time between the two locations. Locke did not have comments about who should take his place on the city council. As of Aug. 10, Patrick Birkle had filed the paperwork necessary to run for the position.

Birkle, who has worked as an educator and is now a substitute teacher, tutor and education consultant, said one of his priorities if elected is to work to “improve systems and procedures to assure accountability and transparency in city council practice and decisions regarding the use of city finances and resources.”

Another of Birkle’s priorities revolves around the city’s waterfront project. He said he wants to ensure that the development of the former Boise White Paper property and the repurposing of the wastewater treatment lagoon are “done with as much community input as possible and to ensure that the development is done in ways that protect the safety and health of our residents and the environment.”

He said his third priority is to ensure that all residents feel welcome and empowered to participate in city life and governance.

Scholl said he was planning to file for reelection for mayor.

“When I started running, I told myself that I wanted to do six to eight years, because I knew that’s what it would take in order to get stuff done,” Scholl said.

Scholl was first elected in 2016. He said since then, the city has been conducting detailed planning on several different projects, which the city will now start to move forward on. Scholl said his first priority is developing the city’s waterfront, followed by continuing to work with the county, the school district and the recreation program.

Carlson said she filed for reelection the second day the filing period had opened on June 1 for the St. Helens positions. Carlson said making sure everyone in the community feels included is an important issue to her.

“Black Lives Matter is kind of the tip of the iceberg, because we’re not a super diverse community,” Carlson said. “Nothing’s available in Spanish. So many of our facilities are not Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible and a significant percentage of our community identifies as having a disability.”

At their most recent city council meeting, St. Helens councilors approved a declaration of equity and inclusion, which Carlson described as just the begin

Carlson is finishing her second term, having first been elected in 2012.

Carlson and Scholl were running unopposed in their election bids as of Monday, Aug. 10.

Countywide candidates for the November General Election include, a run-off for Columbia County Board of Commission Positions 1 and 3 with two incumbent commissioners facing opponents from the May Primary Election.

Position 1 incumbent Margaret Magruder is running against Brandee Dudzic. Position 3 incumbent Alex Tardif’s challenger is Casey Garrett.

Columbia County residents will also be voting on Measure 5-278, the Columbia County Gun Sanctuary Ordinance. Chief petitioner Raven Brumbles filed the measure, which is also known as the Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance, or SASO, and is meant to prohibit the enforcement of gun control regulations should they be passed in a federal election at any time.

Board positions for the Clatskanie, Columbia River, and McNulty Water People’s Utility Districts are also open for the November election.

Voters in Rainier will vote for or against a property tax to aid the Rainier Cemetery District. The tax will be five cents per $1,000 in assess property value for five years beginning in 2021-2022. Rainier residents voted against the same measure in the May election.

Look for more previews of the November General Election in the coming days here online and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.

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