Roseburg Mayor Larry Rich said he was grateful Tuesday night to voters for electing him to serve an eighth term, while his challenger, Councilor Mike Baker, said he might run again in two years.
“I appreciate the support from the community. I’m thankful for their belief in me, and I will work hard to serve the citizens of our community,” said Rich, after election results showed him with a secure 53 percent to 46 percent lead.
Rich led Baker 4,213 to 3,677, when final results were announced late Tuesday.
Rich celebrated at home with a dozen friends who helped with his campaign. He said he hoped his re-election reflected voters’ faith in the work he has done in his 14 years as mayor.
“Hopefully people were able to see what I’ve done over the past years and liked what they saw,” Rich said.
Baker mounted the strongest challenge Rich has faced as an incumbent mayor, garnering more votes than either of the two candidates — Lanty Jarvis and Josh Tibbetts — who sought to unseat Rich in the past.
Baker said he was disappointed with the outcome but said he would “gladly do it again.”
His term on the City Council expires at the end of the year. Baker passed on running for re-election to challenge Rich.
“I plan to stay active in politics and continue to speak out on the issues that affect our community,” Baker said.
He thanked his supporters and volunteers for their hard work and generosity.
“I couldn’t have done this without all of them, and I am truly humbled by their support,” Baker said.
Baker said he knocked on almost every door in Roseburg while campaigning.
During the campaign, Baker said he thought Rich hadn’t done enough to capitalize on the mayoral role and said the city has been “stuck in neutral” under Rich’s leadership.
Baker said he wanted to be a more active mayor, using the position to reach out to business leaders.
“I entered this race against a seven-time incumbent because I was worried about our city’s future. I believed that for Roseburg’s economy to move forward we needed more than the status quo. We needed a credible candidate with a conservative record,” Baker said.
Rich campaigned on past successes and said he has earned a reputation as a mayor who treats residents fairly. He said supporters told him that’s why he won their votes.
“What I heard was they were pleased with what they had seen in the past. I listen to both sides, and people know when they come to the council, they will be treated with respect,” Rich said.
Rich is a vice principal at Roseburg High School. Baker is a regional planning manager in the Roseburg office of the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Baker was endorsed by Republican state Rep. Tim Freeman, who served with Rich and Baker as a City Council member from 2003-08. Freeman said the city would benefit economically from the more active approach Baker promised. Rich was backed by the Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce, whose leaders said Rich had a proven record of being friendly to businesses.
Rich also won the support of Tibbetts, who ran against him in 2008. Tibbetts said Rich is “the real deal” and praised his fairness and accessibility in a September letter to The News-Review.
Five of eight councilor positions were on the ballot but all were uncontested. Newcomer Mike Hilton was elected to fill Councilor Melissa Smith’s Ward 1 seat. Due to a boundary change, Smith ran successfully for the Ward 4 seat Baker will vacate at the end of the year. Voters also gave the nod to Marty Katz, who will continue to fill the Ward 2 seat the council appointed him to fill in September. Katz replaced Steve Tuchscherer, who gave up the seat after he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer on his eyelid. Ken Averett and Rick Coen were re-elected to their posts.
• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.