Election 2022: Eight candidates declare for three Ashland council seats

Ashland City Council members meet in May 2022. From left are Paula Hyatt, Tonya Graham, Shaun Moran, Mayor Julie Akins, Stefani Seffinger, Gina DuQuenne and Stephen Jensen. Drew Fleming photo for Ashland.news
August 2, 2022

10 days remain to file to appear on Nov. 8 ballot

By Stephen Floyd, Ashland.news

The field of candidates for Ashland City Council is becoming crowded as eight candidates, including just one incumbent, have filed for three open seats, with less than two weeks remaining to add names to the ballot.

The seats currently held by councilors Tonya Graham, Stefani Seffinger and Stephen Jensen are set to be filled during the Nov. 8 General Election.

Graham is the only council incumbent to have filed a candidate petition with the City Recorder’s Office. Jensen and Seffinger are not seeking reelection.

Prospective candidates have until Aug. 12 to file their paperwork and appear on the ballot, or they would be obligated to run a write-in campaign.

Graham was first elected to the council in 2018 and has a professional background as executive director of Geos Institute, an Ashland-based nonprofit promoting climate change adaptation. She ran for mayor in 2020 against then-fellow Councilor Julie Akins, who would go on to prevail over Graham with 53 percent of the vote.

Challenging Graham for council are Jon Merripen and Joy Fate. 

Merripen is owner of Blade And Fist Martial Arts where he teaches fung ku, with prior professional experience in network engineering. He does not have previous government experience.

Fate is a retired assistant promotions director and on-air talent for On-Air Media, a local media production company. She currently serves on the Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission.

Running for Seffinger’s seat are Robert Kaplan and Jill Franko.

Kaplan is former president and CEO of Inter-American Foundation, a federal agency that leads community development efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as multiple executive positions within Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank. He currently serves on the Ashland Climate Policy Commission and Ashland Citizens Budget Committee.

Franko described herself as a community organizer and has a professional background in finance and health care management, including through The Well Society, Marsh McLean Agency, Barney and Barney Insurance Services, Financial Logistics and PayChex. She currently serves on the Ashland School Board and has been part of the district’s budget committee, bond oversight committee and insurance committee.

Vying for Jensen’s seat are Linda Peterson Adams, James Falkenstein and Eric Hansen.

Peterson Adams is a former high school English and social studies teacher, and also has experience operating a landscaping/gardening business. Her term as chair of the Ashland Transportation Commission ended April 30. (Note: Linda Peterson Adams announced Aug. 2 she would withdraw from the race. Read her letter here.)

Falkenstein is a prop master with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and a digital media instructor with Southern Oregon University. He does not have prior government experience.

Hansen is owner and CEO of True South Solar, a local firm dealing in residential and commercial solar panels, and has past experience as a journalist, builder, ski lift operator and entrepreneur. He is currently a board member of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce.

Email Ashland.news reporter Stephen Floyd at sfloydmedia@gmail.com.

Aug. 2 update: Added information about Linda Peterson Adams’ withdrawal of her candidacy.

Aug. 4 update: Corrected information about Linda Peterson Adam’s status as chair of the Ashland Transportation Commission; she is a past chair, not current chair.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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