Some new faces vying for mayor, council slots in November election

·3 min read

Sep. 7—LA GRANDE — The La Grande City Council will see new faces after this fall's election. Two candidates are vying for mayor and six people filed to run for three seats on the La Grande City Council for the Tuesday, Nov. 8, election.

Mathew Miles and current City Councilor Justin Rock are running for mayor. Both candidates are small business owners in La Grande.

Rock, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, owns and operates Rock & Sons Tire and Auto Repair. He has served two terms on the La Grande City Council and nine years on the city planning commission. Rock is also on the advisory board for the Mount Emily Recreation Area.

Miles, an Iraq war veteran and retired school administrator, currently owns and operates Buggy Bath Car Wash, La Grande. He attended Eastern Oregon University to acquire a bachelor's degree in history education.

Molly A. King is running uncontested for the fifth council seat, now held by Gary Lillard. King is the former owner and operator of Countryside Kennels.

The council's sixth position, currently held by councilor John Bozarth, has two contenders — David Moyal and Denise Wheeler.

Moyal, a self-employed property developer, currently serves as chair of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission and served four terms on the city's budget committee. He hopes to prioritize housing challenges, the rental market, city services and roads.

Wheeler is a former life enrichment assistant at Grande Ronde Retirement, and worked as a musical theater educator at La Grande High School. When she initially ran for a council position in 2020, Wheeler expressed her desire to focus on improving public safety, increasing government transparency and propelling economic development in La Grande.

Cody R. Vela and Corrine Dutto, who recently served a four-year term on the council, will vie for the seventh position, the spot now held by Rock.

Dutto, a physical therapist, is on the city's budget committee and the La Grande School District budget committee. She aims to improve livability in La Grande, from parks and recreation opportunities to expanding library hours.

Vela is an Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient who has lived in La Grande since 2010. He has served on the Board of Directors for Union County Search and Rescue as well as the Union County Warming Station. Vela intends to focus his energy on fixing roads, balancing the city's budget and supporting local Emergency Services.

The last day to register to vote is Tuesday, Oct. 18, and local ballots will be mailed Oct. 19.

Candidates for city council must be registered to vote, and they must have lived within the La Grande city limits during the six months immediately preceding the election. The Oregon Secretary of State's Office requires all candidates to log their campaign finances within three days of receiving or expending funds if they intend to receive or spend more than $750.

Shannon Golden is a reporter for The Observer. Contact her at 541-624-6015 sgolden@lagrandeobserver.com.