Astoria Mayor Arline LaMear, who has guided the city with an understated confidence since her election in 2014, will not seek another term in November.
The mayor cited personal reasons for choosing not to run again.
“I really enjoy knowing how the city works and figuring out ways to make it work better,” LaMear said of her role. “I love it.”
Her four-year term ends in December, as do the City Council terms of Zetty Nemlowill and Cindy Price. The trio formed the city’s first council with a majority of women.
While Nemlowill said she is not yet sure if she will seek re-election, Price is positive she will run again and is contemplating a bid for mayor.
“I certainly plan to be on the ballot in November,” Price said. “Whether that’s as city councilor or mayor I don’t know yet.”
LaMear and the two councilors still have an entire year ahead of them regardless, and there remains plenty to keep them busy — from the city budget and vacation rentals to homelessness and affordable housing.
Renewal of the Astoria Library was one of LaMear’s priorities and under her watch the council settled on a compromise to renovate the existing 50-year-old building instead of breaking ground on a new library. Plans are also moving forward to turn the historic Waldorf Hotel next door — neglected and empty for years — into affordable housing. On Tuesday, LaMear and Interim Police Chief Geoff Spalding led the second meeting of a new task force intended to address issues surrounding homelessness.
A former librarian, LaMear was elected to the City Council in 2008. When Willis Van Dusen announced his retirement after 24 years as mayor, LaMear felt the council needed someone familiar with the city. She defeated Larry Taylor to win the job, the second woman — after Edith Henningsgaard — to lead the city.
“We will have a new city manager, a new council person, a new finance director,” she told The Daily Astorian at the time. “And I think we need someone to be there who can provide continuity. I can provide continuity.”
LaMear had also served five years on the Planning Commission. She had served on the Astoria Library Board and the Clatsop County Commission on Children and Families and volunteered as a court-appointed special advocate. She has been the president of the Astoria chapters of the American Association of University Women and the Women’s Political Caucus.
The city hasn’t had many inquiries from other potential candidates for mayor and council yet. City Manager Brett Estes said he has fielded a few questions. It is still early to start contemplating a November election, said Finance Director Susan Brooks, who also serves as the city’s elections official. Filing opens on May 30 and closes Aug. 28.
“People usually file early,” Brooks said.
In 2014, Price ran unopposed for the Ward 3 seat, representing the bulk of downtown, while Nemlowill defeated challenger George McCartin for the Ward 1 seat. Ward 1 covers the northwestern swath of Astoria.
Price, a writer, researcher, editor and radio broadcaster, has lived in Astoria since 1996. She is married to District Attorney Josh Marquis, who recently announced he will not be running for re-election.
Nemlowill, who grew up in Astoria, is the marketing director at Astoria Co-op Grocery. She previously served nine years on the Planning Commission, three of those years as president. She is married to Chris Nemlowill, co-owner of Fort George Brewery.
The City Council includes Bruce Jones and Tom Brownson. Both men were elected in 2016 and their terms run through the end of 2020.