A new mayor and six city councilors each raised their right hands and took the oath of office Monday night to officially become Philomath’s newest city government representatives.
For the third time over the last three election cycles, Philomath has a different mayor. Rocky Sloan served his final term in 2017-18, Eric Niemann took over the seat in 2019-20 and now Chas Jones takes control of the gavel for the next two years.
Jones, 47, said he decided to run for mayor after other residents asked him to throw his name in the hat.
“It is not really something I was aspiring to but I was approached by numerous individuals and so when called upon, I just had a hard time saying no,” Jones said.
Philomath’s voters in the November election favored a new mix on the City Council and with that new team coming together, challenges are certainly to arise from time to time as they get to know one another.
“I’m looking forward to navigating all of the situations in meetings,” Jones said. “Some of the councilors I don’t know very well and so I’m looking forward to taking the opportunity in learning how to work with them and being effective.”
City councilors sworn in were Jessica Andrade, Catherine Biscoe, Ruth Causey, Matt Lehman, David Low and Teresa Nielson.
Jones said he’s excited about the opportunities coming up for the city from a new wastewater treatment plant to the downtown streetscapes project.
“This comprehensive planning that we’ve got going on is something I’m also very excited about and something I’ve been interested in for the last two years since I’ve been on council,” he added. “The downtown design standards that we’re talking about … I’m really interested in as well.”
Jones hopes it will all lead to better days ahead for local businesses.
“Whatever we can do to get local businesses to be better supported by outside residents and our local residents is really something that really interests me, especially once we can get out of this COVID situation,” he said.
City Manager Chris Workman opened the ceremony with a short speech that emphasized the journey they were all about to take.
“Philomath residents will be able to control more of their day-to-day lives through you representing the City Council than what is going to happen for them at the county, state or national level,” Workman said. “Their daily lives are going to be affected by the choices you make.”
The event was held under the covered shelter on the north side of Philomath Middle School. The small group on hand included councilors and a few immediate family members along with City Recorder Ruth Post, who administered the oath of office.
Jones, a tribal liaison for the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, defeated Doug Edmonds by a slim 51-49 margin to win the mayoral seat in the Nov. 3 general election.
Low is the veteran on the City Council with the beginning of his third term. Now retired, Low has a heavy work history in finance, particularly in the areas of compliance, internal auditing and government regulations.
Causey, formerly a human resources consultant, and Lehman, a regional sales manager, were appointed to the City Council in 2019 and both ran for the first time this past November.
Three newcomers to the council include Andrade, Biscoe and Nielson. Andrade and Biscoe have been active at various city meetings in the past through public comments and interaction with committees. Nielson brings a heavy background in education to the council.
The newly installed City Council will meet for the first time on Jan. 11. A council president will be chosen and committee appointments announced.