By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Burr on his way to Willamina mayoral win; council race close

Bob Burr
Bob Burr

 Willamina City Councilor Bob Burr has a commanding lead over George Young to be the community’s next mayor based on early-morning Polk and Yamhill County election results Wednesday.

Burr was rolling to an easy win with 577 votes, or 66.67%, to Young’s 308 votes, or 34.22%, as of 1:37 a.m. report. Voters for the race numbered 576 in Yamhill County and 324 in Polk County.

Three-term Mayor Ila Skyberg decided not to seek re-election. She defeated Roy Whitman in 2014 after incumbent Corey Adams chose not to run, and she was unopposed in 2016 and 2018.

Burr said he became aware Skyberg was not going to seek re-election. He said serving on the council the past four years has prepared him well to occupy the top elected position. Skyberg encouraged him to run.

In the runup to the election, Burr said he hoped to maintain the current continuity between the city staff and elected officials.

 Burr said he doesn’t believe he has seen the city in as good of shape as it currently is in, and he has lived in Willamina 46 years.

He and his wife, Rita, are former Willamina business owners. Burr grew up in the Central Oregon town of Prineville. His wife is from Madras, 30 miles away.

“I was working at a drug store, and wanted to have my own pharmacy, so I came to Willamina and bought a drug store,” said the 1969 Oregon State University graduate who received a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy.

He renamed Newby’s Pharmacy Willamina Drugs and ran the business for 31 years before retiring, at which time he also operated a pharmacy in Sheridan, which he sold.

Young, his opponent on election day, is a 30-year Willamina resident who was raised in Southern California, lived in Portland for awhile and is semi-retired after working in the trucking industry for 40 years.

The council voted unanimously in 2001 to appoint Young mayor. He replaced a councilor who was serving as acting mayor following a mayoral recall.

Young ran for re-election 2002, losing to Francis Eddy by nine votes.

Undeterred, he ran again in 2004 and was soundly defeated by Rita Baller, who currently sits on the council and is running for reelection.

Voting results continued to be extremely tight for five candidates seeking three Willamina City Council positions.

Incumbents Craig Johnson and Rita Baller were leading the way and exactly tied with 441 votes apiece, both at 20.83%. They were followed closely by Barry Wilson, 438 votes, or 20.69%; James Daley, 430 votes, or 20.31%; and Tyler Crook, 343 votes, or 16.20%.


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