Councilor receives almost 100 votes more than Baker-MonaghanSEASIDE - Challenger Don Larson surpassed incumbent Rosemary Baker-Monaghan in the race for mayor of Seaside.
A narrow edge widened as ballots were counted Tuesday night, until Larson held the lead with 1,026 votes (49.5 percent) to Baker-Monaghan's 940 votes (45.4 percent).
Larson has served on the seven-member Seaside City Council since 1999, representing Wards 1 and 2 west of the Necanicum River. Baker-Monaghan is approaching the end of her eighth year on the council, including her fourth year as mayor.
Both had previously served on the Seaside Planning Commission.
Larson made the bid for mayor in the middle of his four-year term as a councilor. After he takes the mayor seat in January, the council will need to appoint someone to fill the position he is vacating.
"I would really want to thank my committee and those who voted for me," Larson said.
"We're proud to have run a clean, positive, factual campaign. Now it's my privilege and honor to work hard and serve Seaside, the city I love, as mayor."
The word on the street was that the race would be close, but many residents offered words of support Tuesday afternoon, Larson said. Negatively toned letters about him that appeared in newspapers may have backfired, rallying people in his favor, he added.
People in Seaside encouraged him to run four years ago but he wanted experience as a councilor first, he said. A former David Douglas School Board member who retired from the U.S. Army Reserve at the rank of sergeant major, Larson, 66, said "my record of service has been in a leadership position."
In campaigns, Baker-Monaghan, 46, who works as an accountant for Weyerhaeuser, had focused on broad-reaching issues for the city. She cited successful partnerships she had helped to facilitate with other agencies and substantial funds and other assistance directed to Seaside for economic development, education and urban renewal.
Larson had focused on concerns including upkeep of city buildings and council-meeting efficiency. He has been highly critical of the U.S. Highway 101 widening project.
The only other contested race on the Seaside City Council involved a showdown between two newcomers for the Ward 2 seat previously held by the late Kathleen Wysong. The four-year position represents residents west of the Necanicum River and north of Avenue G.
Don McKay, a retired manufacturer's agent and president of Universal Electric Co., won the race against Marti Wajc, an administrative assistant for the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District and a former high school teacher. In preliminary results McKay had 182 votes (52 percent) and Wajc garnered 112 votes (31 percent).
McKay commended Wajc for running a clean campaign and said he looked forward to serving on the council. "I'm very pleased and I think we can all work together," he said.
Voters also reinstated candidates who ran unopposed: Diana Schafer for Ward 1, west of the Necanicum and South of Avenue G, and Larry Haller for Wards 3 and 4, east of the Necanicum.