Heather Buch spent election day with her family and election night being cautiously optimistic after initial results showed her beating out Gary Williams for the East Lane Commissioner position.
With just over 26,000 votes counted, Buch led 56.05 percent to 43.50 percent in a race against native son Gary Williams who arguably had a slight edge over Buch going into the race after serving as mayor of Cottage Grove for more than a decade and being appointed to the county commission seat over Buch after former commissioner Faye Stewart stepped down to take a job with the city of Cottage Grove.
“I was knocking doors very early on and getting the one-on-one interaction with everyone within our district and getting to know what their issues were,” Buch said after delivering a speech Tuesday night.
If Buch’s lead holds, the commission will see its first lean to the left in several years—an issue that crept into the non-partisan race with election material labeling Buch as working with “extremists.”
“The issues that resonated when I spoke with people were the ones I had a background in,” Buch said. “Housing affordability was by far the one I found most common and that’s my professional background.”
Buch works for St. Vincent DePaul directing building projects and it s a small business owner.
Both Buch and Williams focused on jobs and health care during the campaign with Buch aligning herself with small business and pushing for economic diversity while Williams earned the endorsement of Lane County Sheriff Byron Trapp and spoke of existing opportunities in the timber industry.
Both candidates raised more than $100,000 with Buch raising $194,544.44 and Williams, $224,367.84. Buch ended the campaign with just under $30,000, Williams’ expenses totaled $241,001.52.
“Overarching beyond politics, when you talk about the specific issues that people really need help with, that’s the most effect message they can here,” Buch said, noting that she was excited to meeting the people she would be working with and “getting her feet wet” in January.
Williams did not return a request for an election night interview.