Astoria Planning Commissioner Joan Herman on Tuesday won the race to represent downtown on the City Council, defeating state forester Ron Zilli.
Herman will replace City Councilor Cindy Price, who had originally planned to run for mayor but withdrew for family reasons. Price supported Herman in the radio programmer’s bid for the Ward 3 seat, contributing to her campaign.
“I really thank the voters for putting their trust in me,” Herman said after winning with a 66.7 percent to 33.1 percent margin. She also thanked Zilli for running a good campaign.
“If I had not won, he would have made an excellent councilor,” she said, adding, “It reflects well on our community that there’s enough engagement that people want to serve. It’s not an easy thing to take on or undertake lightly.”
Housing remains her top priority as she moves away from the campaign and begins contemplating the council seat. Preliminary results of a countywide housing study are now available, containing data Astoria leaders can begin to examine, Herman said.
Zilli said the race was a good experience overall and wished Herman luck.
“For never having done this before, I learned a lot,” he said. “I feel better connected to the city for having gone through it.”
They both felt it was important for Astorians to have a variety of candidates to choose from in city races.
The campaign was Herman’s first time running for public office, though both she and Zilli applied for an open seat on the Planning Commission after Commissioner Dave Pearson announced he was stepping down to take a new job outside of Clatsop County. Mayor Arline LaMear appointed Herman to the position.
Both Herman and Zilli are longtime residents and say managing future development, especially in the dense downtown area, is key.
Zilli, in his role with the Oregon Department of Forestry, noted his deep understanding of state and local governmental processes, while Herman has worked as reporter in Astoria and hosts a public affairs show that takes a deep dive into local politics. She has long been a familiar face at many city meetings.
For both candidates, many of the city’s concerns come back to housing. Zilli saw a solution through careful development to the east, while Herman wanted the City Council and city staff to look at vacant or underutilized parcels where, in some cases, developers have considered building hotels.
They also hoped to address “the hole” at Heritage Square near City Hall, where a portion of the city block caved in after heavy rains in 2010.
Herman will be the sole woman on the City Council next year. LaMear, Price and City Councilor Zetty Nemlowill gave women a majority on the council for the first time after the 2014 election, but opted not to run for re-election.
• View election results: View the latest results here.