City News

Shane Matthews clinches Ward 3 council seat by 42 votes

Nearly a month after election night, Salem’s closest city council race has reached its final tally: voters in south Salem’s Ward 3 elected Shane Matthews by 42 votes.

Matthews, a Realtor, narrowly beat Nathan Soltz, a legislative chief of staff and member of the Morningside Neighborhood Association board, for the seat representing the Faye Wright Neighborhood, Fairview Park and Southeast Mill Creek. It was the most expensive city council race this year.

According to the final count, Matthews received 2,135 votes, and Soltz 2,093.

The Marion County Clerk’s office finished tallying votes the evening of Monday, June 17. Though the total was close, it was not within the slim threshold for an automatic recount. For that, the race would need to be within 0.20% or one out of every 500 ballots.

The race saw the highest voter turnout of the city council races, with 34% of registered voters casting a ballot. 

Soltz called Matthews on Tuesday to concede, and said he has no plans to ask for a recount.

“It was very close, but we don’t anticipate a recount being able to swing 33 votes,” Soltz said, referring to the threshold which would call for an automatic recount. He said he trusts Marion County Clerk Bill Burgess’ accuracy. 

Matthews said it’s been a stressful few weeks, and joked that he had checked the results page thousands of times since election night on May 21. He led by a small margin on election night.

He saw that he’d officially won Tuesday morning.

“I was excited,” he said. “I thought there’d be this, like, relief but it hasn’t really hit yet.”

Matthews said he hopes to meet with all sitting city councilors before he takes office in January. He said he wants to know what they struggled with when they began their terms, and what he should study up on.

Matthews, owner of Matthews Real Estate, Inc. has served on the Oregon Justice Department’s citizen review board since 2017. The committee reviews child welfare cases, and determines if the state worked in the best interest of the child and their parents, he said.

He said he felt compelled to run for office when his mail kept getting stolen. He was also motivated by payroll tax a narrow majority of city councilors voted to impose last July before voters rejected the tax in November.

Matthews said he will be “laser focused” on the central principles he campaigned on: city spending, addressing homelessness, supporting local businesses, public safety and affordable housing.

Matthews will be entering a council with a slight progressive majority. Newly-elected Councilors Paul Tigan and Irvin Brown, both progressives, will join sitting councilors Vanessa Nordyke, Linda Nishioka and Micki Varney. Mayor-Elect Julie Hoy, Councilor Deanna Gwyn and Matthews were backed by real estate and business groups.

The close race was the most expensive of the council races. Matthews raised $73,048 as of Tuesday, to Soltz’s $21,477, according to campaign finance records. Matthews’ large donors included the Oregon REALTORS PAC, Mountain West Investment Corp. and the Mid-Valley Affordable Housing Coalition.

Soltz said that this election showed that every vote counts.

“We need to do something to get big money out of politics. We cannot have our elections bought,” Soltz said.

Matthews said he’s thankful to everyone who supported his campaign, especially his family.

“Obviously, every bit of work that we did mattered because we didn’t win by a wide margin,” he said.

Soltz is secretary of the Morningside Neighborhood Association, and the two plan to work together on community priorities. Both said they’ve had an amicable relationship during the campaign.

“Your opponent is not your enemy,” Matthews said. “This is a small community, and you certainly don’t want to scorch every bridge just to try to win an election.”

DISCLOSURE: Larry Tokarski, owner of Mountain West Investment Corp, is a founder and an owner of Salem Reporter. He is not involved in news coverage produced by Salem Reporter. Read more on that here.

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-575-1251

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.