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Coburg honors its late mayor as next mayor wins write-in campaign

Ray Smith
Screenshot from YouTube
City of Coburg
In this screenshot from YouTube, Coburg Mayor Ray Smith delivers the 2022 "State of the City" address. Smith died Oct. 27, 2022, several weeks after delivering this address.

Coburg has selected its next mayor via write-in votes.

Nancy Bell was serving as City Council president when Coburg mayor Ray Smith died of cancer in October. That made Bell the acting mayor until the end of the year.

Nancy Bell.jpg
City of Coburg
Nancy Bell won a write-in campaign to become the next mayor of Coburg.

But there was no one on the November ballot to take the helm as Coburg mayor starting in January. So Bell, a retired nurse, launched a low-key write-in campaign, and won.

According to Lane County Elections, Bell received 232 of the 356 write-in votes cast for Coburg mayor.

"It is a volunteer position and it takes a lot of time, but I made that decision to go ahead and do a write-in campaign.“ said Bell. "I did not want Mayor Smith’s legacy to fall by the wayside, and I did not want any interruptions in leadership."

Coburg is a city of roughly 1,300 people just north of Eugene. Bell said the biggest issue the community is facing is how to maintain its small-town ambiance in the face of increasing traffic and development pressures.

Meanwhile, Bell and her colleagues on the Coburg city council decided to rename the council chambers in Smith's honor. The public is invited to an open house at city hall starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13. A dedication ceremony will be held at the beginning of the regular city council session at 6 p.m.

Bell said the proposal to rename the council chambers in his honor was approved quickly and unanimously.

“I will be honest and tell you there was not a dry eye on council," she said. "We all miss him terribly, and we wanted to make sure that his legacy and his name was remembered forever in Coburg.”

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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