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First woman elected mayor in Ashland, she'll target city services
For the first time, a woman has been elected mayor in Ashland. Danielle Kaeding with Northland College station WRNC has more.
Ashland attorney Deb Lewis beat opponent Charles Ortman by a two-to-one margin in unofficial totals with 812 votes to his 377. Lewis says it's a humbling experience to be elected the city's first woman mayor.
"I was thinking about the other two woman in the city who kind of laid the groundwork. There were two women previously who served as an interim mayor who had been appointed. They were Fran Ancy and Jane Smith. Both very strong women. I am walking in those footsteps, and I'm well aware of that. I'm really grateful for an opportunity to serve."
Former Ashland Mayor Ed Monroe was among about a dozen Lewis supporters waiting for the votes to come in at the Alley Restaurant in Ashland. Monroe says it's good to see Ashland voters put a woman at the helm of the city.
EM: "Would be nice to see how that civilizes the goings on at city hall."
DK: "You think it needs a woman's touch?"
EM: "I think it couldn't hurt."
Lewis says relationship-building is the first thing she plans to focus on as mayor. She says she knocked on about 1,500 doors during her campaign and would've visited more if the weather had cooperated. But, Lewis says Ashland residents are talking a lot about city services.
"There needs to be more accountability and transparency in how they're delivered."
Lewis says she's grateful to her opponent for a civil campaign and Ashland Mayor Bill Whalen for his years of service. She says she looks forward to working with city councilors, business owners and residents on challenges facing the city.
Ortman, a member of the Ashland County Board, says he doesn't feel bad about losing the Ashland mayoral race. Ortman says he and mayor-elect Deb Lewis are almost identical in stands on issues.
"We may have a different message, but we're not opponents. It's not a boxing match. All that word - all the verbage that's framed with races now - just promotes that adversarial - it's just shy of hate-mongering. That's the media-induced political trauma that we're suffering from that adversarial, two-party, like Chris Hitchens said 'finding more and more to argue about and less and less substance.'"
He says the outcome of the race was always a win-win for him.
"I got a lot of work to do. I won my board seat. The fight for this mine is a number one issue of mine anyway. I consider now I have a good ally in the mayor's office. I'm proud of her. I'm grateful that she is the candidate that faced me and we're all lucky that she's there. This couldn't have turned out better for Ashland."
Ortman says he wasn't able to cover as much ground with voters as Lewis due to health problems. But, he says he wouldn't have done anything different. Ortman says he and Lewis set an example of how to run a civil campaign.
Fran Ante was the only previous woman to serve as mayor when she was appointed an interim mayor in 1989, according to the Ashland Historical Museum.Previous KUWS Articles:
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