Five of nine seats on the Salem City Council are up for grabs in the May election as the filing deadline approaches. Candidates must file by 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 10.

Three Marion County jobs are open, with incumbents seeking re-election as county clerk and sheriff while a county commission seat will be filled by a newcomer.

Five Polk County jobs are also on the ballot. Three are unopposed and two have appointees seeking election as assessor and commissioner.

Salem councilors are unpaid and nonpartisan. They oversee a $630 million budget and 1,235 employees.

One of the challenges new councilors will face is addressing the homeless population downtown.

Each candidate is running to represent one of eight wards within the city. This year, open seats are in wards representing downtown, southeast, south and north Salem. Here is the candidate situation as of Wednesday.

Virginia Stapleton, a stay-at-home mom, is running against Jan Kailuweit, an IT manager, to represent the ward that includes downtown and a portion of west Salem. The vacancy comes after first-term councilor Cara Kaser chose not to run for re-election.

Trevor Phillips, a Salem Health emergency room doctor, is running against Brad Nanke for the ward that represents south and southeast Salem. Nanke, who has been a councilor for nearly two decades, gathered enough signatures to get on the ballot on Tuesday, March 10. When reached Monday, Nanke said he was pressured to run again.

Real estate broker Jose Gonzalez is running against Hollie Oakes-Miller, a part-time instructor at Portland Community College, for the ward that covers north Salem, after Matt Ausec chose not to run for re-election.

Vanessa Nordyke, a lawyer at the Oregon Department of Justice, is running against Reid Sund, finance director for Salem Health, for south Salem’s ward.

Nordyke was appointed to the council in October following the resignation of Sally Cook.

Mayor Chuck Bennett is running against Brooke Jackson, a controller for biomass company Restoration Fuels.


One Marion County commissioner seat — a paid, partisan position — is open.

Republican Danielle Bethell, executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, is running against Democratic challenger Ashley Carson-Cottingham, a state employee in the Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

The vacancy follows the retirement of long-time commissioner Sam Brentano, who said he would endorse Bethell in the election. Bethell is currently on the Salem-Keizer School Board.

Commissioners are paid about $101,000 per year.

Sadie Carney, a policy analyst at the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, withdrew her candidacy to support Carson-Cottingham.

Danielle Gonzalez, who works at the county’s economic development department, is running against incumbent Bill Burgess for Marion County clerk.

Joe Kast is unopposed for election as sheriff following his appointment to the post.


A Polk County commissioner position is open, with three candidates vying for the spot.

Lyle Mordhorst was appointed to the board in January 2019 to fill the remainder of Jennifer Wheeler’s term.

He is running against Daniel Jaffer, president of Luckiamute Domestic Water Cooperative, and Terry Taylor, who listed his occupation as retired.  

Polk County commissioners are paid about $75,000 per year.

Robb Witters, a supervisor in the Marion County assessor’s office, is running against Valerie Patoine, who was appointed to the Polk County assessor position in March.

Mark Garton, who was first elected to the Polk County sheriff post in 2016, is currently running un-opposed.  

As of Monday, accountant Steve Milligan is running un-opposed for Polk County Treasurer.

Valerie Unger is currently running unopposed for her current position as Polk County clerk. 

This story was updated on March 11 to add new filings.

Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] or @daisysaphara.