By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Watkins winning Carlton mayor's seat; Skipper, Erickson, Brandao leading council race

Updated: 2 a.m.: Fourth run of ballots doesn't change expected results.


Challenger Linda Watkins still is handily leading in the race for Carlton mayor, according to the final unofficial run of ballots announced by the Yamhill County Clerk's Office early Wednesday morning..

Watkins, a council member, was ahead of incumbent mayor Brian Rake, 748 votes, about 60.2%, to 481, or about 38.7%.

Three people were leading in the election to fill three council seats. Newcomers Kevin Skipper, Grant Erickson and Guilherme Brandao were leading incumbents Scott Carl and Carey Rhoads.

Skipper had 885 votes in the final unofficial tally. Erickson had 587 and Brandao had 556. Carl and Rhoads trailed with 417 and 363, respectively. The top three vote-getters will be seated.

Watkins was elected to a four-year term on the council in 2018, the same year Rake won a two-year term as mayor.  

She said she wants to become mayor in order to welcome and encourage people to learn about and take part in their city government.

Carlton has had several contentious issues come up this year, including controversy over the idea of rerouting Highway 47, a fight over building a new city hall and the resignation of its city manager.

Watkins said that as mayor, she wants to  "end the mystery of our $200 to $300 water bills and try to find ways to reduce them." She promised to be available to talk with community members and answer their questions any time, and to make sure they are involved in planning and development actions.

Watkins is co-owner and editor of Ridenbaugh Press, a publishing company. Before moving to Carlton in 2004, she worked for the Office of Idaho State Comptroller and Idaho State Bar & Law Foundation as a public information officer, legislative assistant and policy researcher. She also worked in the hospitality industry for resorts in Idaho.

The California native has a degree in communications from Boise State University.

The daughter of a forest ranger, she moved to the back country in Idaho not long after graduating from high school. She spent about a decade working at wilderness lodges, some of them so remote, the mail arrived only when the snow stopped long enough for a plane to land.

She and her husband, Randy, traveled all over the U.S. before settling in Carlton, an area she remembered from a visit to Wine Country years earlier.

"I love living in Carlton so much," she said, recalling how "the look, the feel, the people, the parks, the pool" all attracted her.

"Everything you need is here, but without the stress," she added.

In the council race,  Erickson, who is on the city planning commission, has been a CNC machinist, welder and fabricator for 30 years.

"Many of the residents of Carlton don’t feel they are being heard or represented by the majority of the city council and current mayor," Erickson said. "I want them to know, as a city councilor, I will be listening to what they have to say."

Skipper, an electrical technician, grew up in Carlton and graduated from Yamhill Carlton High School. He studied emergency medicine at Chemeketa Community College while volunteering as a firefighters EMT with the Carlton Fire District.

He said he can "bring a new perspective, fresh ideas and transparency" to the council.

Brandao, who has lived in Carlton for four years, said he decided to get involved because he hadn't felt he had a voice in what was happening.

He said he wants to bring his "diverse background and different point of view to the council," so he can help deal with important issues such as managing city growth and maintaining affordability.

Carl, who grew up outside Carlton, has been on the council since 2000, except for an 18-month span before he was reappointed in 2010. He since was re-elected in 2012 and 2016. 

Rhoads, a 24-year resident, first was appointed to the council in 2006 and elected to four-year terms in 2008, 2012 and 2016. 


Web Design and Web Development by Buildable