CANNON BEACH — Real estate agent Robin Risley and Cannon Beach City Councilor Mike Benefield overtook hotelier Greg Swedenborg for the two open seats on the City Council.
With most of the votes counted, Risley had the lead with 37.1 percent, and Benefield held off Swedenborg 32 percent to 29.2 percent.
Mayor Sam Steidel, who ran unopposed, won a second four-year term.
While amicable, the City Council race was notably more aggressive compared to recent years, with candidates bucking the trend of keeping local advertising and yard signs out of the campaign.
Much of the campaign was defined by the candidates shared goals of addressing workforce housing and financing large capital projects like City Hall and South Wind development, as well as the evergreen task of managing a tourism industry with local quality of life.
Benefield, who is returning for a second term, said he would focus on creating workforce housing, redirecting lodging tax dollars to go toward investing more in public art and developing an event center at the old Cannon Beach Elementary School.
“I’m very happy to see the majority of our voters seem to appreciate the vision that I have and also Robin has … We’re very similar in that way,” Benefield said. “I think it ought to be a good council to work with.”
Risley, a longtime resident and real estate agent, is joining the council after three decades of public service on planning commissions, parks boards and the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce board. Risley’s campaign largely focused on developing the Cannon Beach Elementary School property, housing, rebuilding City Hall, bolstering the arts and “preserving the character of Cannon Beach.”
“I’m very excited and thrilled for the support,” Risley said. “I can’t thank everyone enough. I’m looking forward to making a difference.”
A Cannon Beach native and co-owner of The Waves Oceanfront Lodging, Swedenborg ran to act as a voice for the business community and working families. In his first bid for public office, Swedenborg’s campaign mainly centered around creating workforce housing, sustainable tourism and supporting paid parking initiatives, as well as a food and beverage tax to address congestion and infrastructure repairs.
“I strongly believe that in the voting population there are a ton of people who moved here in 1999, 2000 — choose the year — and don’t want it to change. Then I come with a platform about changing things — the food and beverage tax, parking … that’s a lot of change they don’t want to see,” he said. “You’ve heard of ‘Cannot Beach’ before? I think that motto holds true, and I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of change.”
Swedenborg said overall his first bid for public office was positive and congratulated his opponents.
He intends to run again and Risley and Benefield should expect him to be “a usual suspect” at City Council meetings, he said.
Sixty percent of Cannon Beach voters also approved a five-year renewal of the fire levy Tuesday night, which pays for the fire chief’s salary, vehicles, administrative costs and supplies. The levy will raise the tax rate to $0.19 per thousand of assessed property value, up from an average $0.14 voted in five years ago. The measure initially failed during a September special election due to low voter turnout.
“I am extremely happy the citizens of the fire district went out and voted to support having a fire chief for the next five years,” Fire Chief Matt Benedict said. “The district needs a fire chief.”