Political newcomer James Martin and incumbents Jane Johnson and Bill Jones obtained the three open Salem City Council seats in Tuesday’s closely contested four-person election. Second-time candidate Mark Henrickson, who previously ran in 2006, came in last, trailing Martin by 41 votes.
Anxious candidates huddled inside of the City of Salem Registrar Office Tuesday evening, along with Salem City Mayor Randy Foley, to watch as the unofficial election results were announced onscreen. The election drew in 1,888 of the city’s 16,418 voters, an 11 percent turnout rate.
Jones led the race with 1,365 votes, with Johnson following at 1,315 votes, Martin at 1,098 votes, and Henrickson at 1,057. There were also 82 write-in votes.
Jones, the former owner of Fastsigns of Salem, now a salesman at Hart Motor Co., was first elected to Salem City Council during the 2008 election. Jones, whose father is struggling with severe health issues, said that he ran in honor of him.
“I’m very honored and humbled,” Jones said. “My dad is in bad health, so this is for him. To be able to lead the ticket is a big honor. I have a lot of people that worked hard for me.”
“I do it because my heart tells me to do it,” he added.
Johnson, the owner of R.M. Johnson & Son Jewelers in Salem, has the most political experience of the group, as she was first elected to council in 2004.
“I’m feeling very excited and encouraged,” Jonson said. “I felt like it was going to be close, which is why I was feeling a little on edge when I came in here, because nothing is a given. At the end of the day, with such a low turnout, it can go any way.”
Johnson said that going into this election was different than any of the others she has participated in, because as of now, she is planning on it being her final council term.
“In my mind, and I know I should never say never, but I feel like this is going to be my last one,” Johnson said. “It’s bittersweet, in a way.”
At 42 years old, Martin will be the youngest council member, and said he believes he can use his age to his advantage to connect with Salem’s younger generation. Martin is a solution consultant at Meridium International Inc.
“It’s an honor and a privilege, especially being my first time running for council,” Martin said. “I’m just really thrilled and happy to have a chance to represent Salem. It’s just something that has been in my mind for a long time. I’m going to give it everything I have, and go from there.”
Martin will officially take his place at council in July, taking over for interim Councilman Jim Chisom, who was appointed in January after Councilwoman Lisa Garst’s resignation.
Johnson and Jones said they are ready to move forward, and that there are a couple of significant items to tackle on Salem’s agenda, the first being the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, for which there will be a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. on Monday. Both said that they are excited for what Martin will bring to the table.
“He’ll be a good addition, especially with his technology background,” Jones said.
“He’s part of the younger generation, and I think that is great,” added Johnson.