Widdop won’t seek re-election as Gearhart mayor

Mayor Dianne Widdop.

GEARHART — Mayor Dianne Widdop, who survived a divisive recall election last year, will not run for re-election in November.

Widdop, who joined the City Council more than two decades ago, was elected mayor in 2012.

“Absolutely and positively, I have no intention of running for office again,” she said. “Between the Budget Committee and the City Council, I’ve been involved with the city since 1993. This is 23 years of volunteering for everything.”

As mayor, Widdop’s policy initiatives have included new rules on short-term rentals, the improvement of the Ridge Path, regulation of Neacoxie Barn and guidelines for recreational vehicles. She presided over the opening of the city’s first water treatment plant.

Widdop also serves on the Seaside Municipal Airport Advisory Committee, a role she will retain.

In 1994, Widdop’s first bid for City Council ended in a tie. After a second election in 1995, she won by a substantial margin.

Widdop served on the council for 16 years before running for mayor in 2012 after the retirement of Kent Smith, who had served in that role for 20 years.

“Kent Smith is a good friend of mine, so I always knew that while he was running, I wouldn’t run against him,” Widdop said at the time.

In that election, Widdop narrowly defeated opponent Bob Shortman. After a recount, only five votes separated the candidates.

In 2014, Widdop faced a recall challenge after Gearhart resident Harold Gable claimed “abuse of leadership, lack of transparency and strong personal bias.”

Voters supported Widdop in the March 2015 special election, with 64 percent of voters opposing the mayor’s recall.

After the vote, Widdop said she was glad there was a large margin.

“There is no question as to how people have felt about this,” she said at the time.

This week, Widdop said she did not know who would follow her as mayor, “but there is someone we’ve been talking to.”

Councilors Sue Lorain, who took Widdop’s position on the council in 2012, and Dan Jesse, who ran and won in 2012, are also up for re-election in Gearhart.

Candidates have until mid-August to file for the November mayoral election.

As for Widdop, her post-mayoral plans are uncertain. “I’m going to be able to enjoy life, be off the hot seat, go to a City Council meeting, sit in the back and voice my opinion,” she said.