Roger Rocka held off David Drafall on Tuesday night in the race for the Astoria City Council Ward 1 seat.
Rocka, a former director for the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce, will replace City Councilor Zetty Nemlowill, representing the city’s west side.
“Now my job is to do a good enough job so that people who voted for me won’t think they made a mistake,” Rocka said after taking 55 percent of the vote to Drafall’s 44.3 percent.
Learning will be his top priority, he added, a process he will jump right into on Wednesday when the city will kick off public vetting of its Uniontown Reborn project, seeking community input on everything from traffic configurations to land use planning in the historic neighborhood.
Rocka will join the City Council at a time when questions about the future of Uniontown are front and center.
“I’m standing behind him fully,” Drafall, a hairdresser and longtime volunteer, said after seeing Rocka’s lead.
Drafall still hopes to be involved with the city in some capacity and plans to talk to Mayor-elect Bruce Jones about other city boards he could serve on.
The two men expressed their admiration for each other throughout the campaign and Rocka hopes Drafall will stay involved in city work.
“Four years from now, maybe he’ll run again,” Rocka said.
Both men ran for similar reasons. They saw burgeoning development interest along the waterfront in Uniontown and worried about how the city would manage future growth.
Drafall, in particular, felt Uniontown had been largely ignored when it came to efforts to revitalize the city, with much of the focus going to downtown instead.
It was Rocka and Drafall’s first time running for public office.
Drafall was the first to announce his bid for the seat. Nemlowill, elected in 2014, had not yet decided if she would run for a second term. She officially decided not to run at the end of August.
Rocka filed after he heard Nemlowill would not run again. He wanted to preserve the values and knowledge she brought to the council, he said.
Throughout the race, Rocka pointed to his long experience with the city and contributions such as his work in fighting against a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal and helping develop the Astoria Riverwalk.
Drafall, however, noted that, as a younger man, he would be able to have more longevity with the council. Rocka has said he would only serve for a single four-year term.
“This election has been really easy for me,” Nemlowill said at a City Council meeting Monday. “All I had to do was vote.”
All the candidates running for City Council were at the meeting and she thanked them for running for public office.
“It’s not easy. It’s a real big sacrifice,” she said. But she was pleased to see good competition and solid candidates.
“Competition is probably causing the candidates a lot of anxiety right now but it pushes people,” she said. “It makes us stronger and I believe that it makes our democracy stronger as well.”
• View election results: View the latest results here.