Astoria City Councilor Bruce Jones will be the city’s next mayor.
The deputy director of the Columbia River Maritime Museum and former Coast Guard commander on Tuesday earned 58.6 percent of the vote to surpass Dulcye Taylor, president of the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association, and community activist Michael “Sasha” Miller.
“I am humbled,” Jones said, stepping out of the noise in the Bridge & Tunnel Bottleshop & Taproom after the election results were announced. “I’m shocked frankly and humbled and very grateful for all the support I received.”
Jones will replace Arline LaMear as mayor in January.
LaMear, elected in 2014, was Astoria’s second female mayor. She followed the 24-year tenure of former Mayor Willis Van Dusen. LaMear announced earlier this year that she would not seek re-election.
Jones will step into the role at a time when the city is grappling with how to provide more affordable and workforce housing, how to address riverfront and economic development and what to do about a growing homeless population.
Jones will lead the City Council at a time of major turnover. Three of the five sitting councilors will wrap up their terms this December. It will be important to establish council goals in January, and, as a team, prioritize the goals, Jones said.
“I’m pretty comfortable that we all agree that housing, jobs and earthquake preparedness are among the top five things,” he said.
Jones’ move to mayor will leave the east side’s Ward 4 council seat vacant. The incoming City Council will need to decide in January if they want to appoint a new councilor or hold an election.
“I have learned so much in this whole process,” Taylor said. “Actually I’m very excited about (the) next steps. There are many opportunities to do good.”
Her term as president of the downtown association ends in December and she plans to let it expire. But she will remain involved in city issues. She said she has started to set up meetings with people to talk about homelessness and housing and how people can work together to solve these issues.
Miller said he plans to continue to be engaged in city issues in some way, too.
“But I’m trying to figure out the most effective manner of doing that,” he said. “I’m just a little guy, so to speak, but I’m very angry about where our nation’s going and I want to have a voice in that.”
He thanked LaMear for her service as mayor and wished Jones luck.
The three candidates all identified similar issues during the campaign that they believe the city faces, from a lack of affordable and workforce housing to rapid development and a rise in homelessness.
The city is in the middle of several large-scale planning processes to craft code that will guide future development. Planners are working on land use guidelines for the Urban Core downtown — the last portion of the Riverfront Vision Plan — as well as in Uniontown, a historic neighborhood that forms the city’s western gateway.
The city also recently amended a controversial “no camping” ordinance to include forestland where dozens of homeless people have been living.
Jones said he will continue the work of a homelessness solutions task force formed by LaMear. The group includes representatives from social service organizations, downtown businesses and the larger community.
The candidates differed slightly in how they planned to address all these issues. Taylor and Miller advocated for “crazy ideas” and “outside of the box” thinking, while Jones was more apt to point to strides the city and city councilors were already making to map out issues and develop strategies.
Both Jones and Taylor voiced a desire to look at how properties are zoned. Some lots could be changed to accommodate higher-density housing, Jones suggested, while Taylor was interested in the idea of going through the city’s inventory of vacant buildings to see what could be redeveloped.
Both pointed to the example of the former Waldorf Hotel, a dilapidated and unused building next to City Hall, which was acquired by a nonprofit affordable housing developer.
Jones pointed to his leadership experience as a Coast Guard commander, in charge of complex operations and familiar with navigating bureaucracy, as well as his familiarity as a city councilor with city discussions and projects.
Taylor noted the skills she gained in her leadership of the downtown association and the work she has done to help revitalize downtown would apply broadly to the rest of Astoria.
Miller believed his lack of political background could be an asset.
LaMear announced in January that she did not intend to run for a second term as mayor. Taylor and City Councilor Cindy Price announced early their intentions to run for mayor, followed by Miller in mid-June.
Price and Taylor had been allies on city issues and efforts like the restoration of the Tourist No. 2 ferry, but the mayor’s race created a divide between them and left some in their shared social circles distressed about who to support.
Price dropped out of the mayor’s race in August, withdrawing for family reasons. The next day, Jones publicly announced his intention to run.
Jones, who is one year into his new job as deputy director of the museum, had said earlier in the year that he didn’t plan to run for mayor but changed his mind. He gained the support of several prominent Astorians, as well as a campaign contribution and endorsement from Price.
Taylor, meanwhile, received contributions from Van Dusen Family Inc., and a beverage company owned and operated by the former mayor.
• View election results: View the latest results here.