Former Cottage Grove Mayor Gary Williams has been selected by the Lane County Commission to replace longtime commissioner Faye Stewart who represented east Lane County.
Williams beat out 27 applicants, nine semi-finalists and three finalists who included fellow Cottage Grove residents Christy Inskipp, Mike Fleck and Cindy Weeldreyer.
"It's about listening," Williams said during the interview when asked what the role of a county commissioner entailed.
He told the commission he would advocate for infrastructure funding, environmental issues and health care on the state and federal level as well as affordable housing saying, "People need to be able to live their lives in dignity."
Williams will finish out the remainder of Stewart's term and has noted he may run for re-election in 2018. He served as mayor of Cottage Grove for 12 years.
Commissioners said attributes such as an individual who could “diversify” the board and provide a new perspective were important deciding factors. Williams will join four men on the five-member board.
Prior to narrowing the field to three candidates, commissioner Pat Farr noted that the board was choosing someone, not to run in 2018, but to fill Stewart's seat for the remainder of the term. He noted the task was a difficult one because, "You can't clone Faye Stewart."
At the final stage of selection, Williams came out on top with Heather Buch following. A three-way tie put Tim Laue, Betsy Schultz and Cedric Hayden in third place. Laue nabbed the third spot after a second vote of the commission.
In an emailed statement from the county, Williams said of his appointment, "This is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility,” he continued, "I look forward to continuing to serve Cottage Grove and the other outstanding communities in East Lane County – I am ready to hit the ground running.”
Stewart resigned from the commission in March after accepting a position with the city of Cottage Grove as its new head of a combined public works and community development department.
Williams is scheduled to be sworn in Thursday.