City council candidates are off and running in Malheur County

A ballot drop box sits outside the Malheur County Courthouse. (Malheur Enterprise file photo)

Voters will see new faces on city councils in Vale, Ontario and Nyssa after the November election as incumbents retire and candidates compete to replace them. Those serving on city councils are unpaid volunteers who typically decide on a city’s policies and approve annual budgets. Here is a quick look at who’s leaving and who’s running for office in the Nov. 3 general election.


The Vale City Council has three candidates and two spots open, with the terms of council members Todd Fuller and Leighton Keller set to expire this year. They are both seeking re-election.

Council members serve for four years. The mayor appoints each council member to one of five committees. The two committees open for appointment after the election are public works and emergency services.

• Cathy Zacharias owns ExZacht Sewing and Alterations. She is running to improve the dialogue between Vale residents and the city council. She said the local response time to calls to the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office, which polices Vale, has to be quicker, that there are more volunteers the city can recruit and that businesses need to stick together.

“I try to find out who has the answers, and I try to put these people together,” said Zacharias.

• Leighton Keller, a Farmers Supply Co-op crop advisor was appointed to the council in 2019 and serves on the city’s emergency services committee. His focus is on economic development, and he would like to bring in new businesses, improve Miller Memorial Airpark in Vale, and make housing more affordable by expanding the Cottonwood subdivision and fixing vacant properties.

“I want us to grow some, but I want to preserve the hometown feel,” said Keller.

• Todd Fuller is an incumbent councilman and is the manager for production planning and customer service at Woodgrain. He was appointed to the council in 2019. He would like to see more community involvement, and would like to see new businesses in town.


The Ontario City Council has five candidates competing for three open seats, following the expiration of the terms for Councilors Marty Justus, Ramon Palomo and Norm Crume. None of them are seeking re-election. Councilors serve four-year terms, and recieve $125 a month.

• Maria Fisher is a human resources generalist at Bestbath Systems in Caldwell and is running to be a voice for women and mothers. She cares about school safety and parks.

“I moved here with my family because I believe Ontario is a great place to raise a family,” said Fisher, who grew up in Nyssa and moved to Ontario in 2017.

• John Kirby is a semi-retired hardware store owner who works part-time at his family hardware store, Kinney Brothers and Keele True Value Hardware. He said he cares about transitional housing for the homeless and fixing up old buildings, more than building new ones.

• Eddie Melendrez is a maintenance and transportation specialist for the Malheur County Child Development Center. Previously, he ran the Treasure Valley Youth Development Academy, which mixed boxing with youth mentorship.

He is running for city council to inspire the youths he mentors, and to grow Ontario into more of a metropolis.

“I want to make it a place where people want to live, not where they want to leave,” said Melendrez.

• Kevin Petross is a property manager KW Realty who wants to help with low-income housing, employment and council-to-community communication. He believes his property management background will help him lead with development.

“I’m not saying I have all the solutions in mind, but I can help the community,” said Petross.

• Sam Baker is an auctioneer at the Baker Auction Co., a family run auction house. He was elk hunting, and couldn’t be reached for comment.


The Nyssa City Council has five candidates for four spots open, with the expiration of the terms for Susan Walker, Patricia Esplin, Robert DeLeon and Ron Edmondson. Edmondson and Esplin are running for re-election.

The council has seven members. The three candidates which receive the highest votes will serve four years, and the fourth-place candidate will serve two years. The council members choose the mayor from among themselves after the election.

• Roberto Escobedo is a wildland firefighter who wants to increase citizen engagement. He said that ordinances are often passed without a lot of people knowing, and that the council needs fresh faces with new ideas.

 “I think that a new generation needs to be on the city council,” said Escobedo.

• Ron Edmondson is an incumbent councilor, appointed to fill a vacancy in November 2019 and is a former heavy equipment operator a year into retirement. It’s been hard to get anything done with Covid restrictions, he said, and next year the council will have to work hard to preserve the city’s economy.

“Next year is going to be tough. We’ve just got to take care” of what the city has, said Edmondson.

• Doug Dewar was a welder and is 12 years into retirement. He is running to encourage businesses to open in town, and make Nyssa a destination again.

“I know it’s hard, it’s very hard for mom-and-pop stores with the advent of Walmart and chain stores,” said Dewar.

• Krissy Walker is an administrative assistant in the Adrian School District who is keeping an open mind to what she would focus on if elected.

“I’m at a point in my life where my kids are grown, and I’ve got free time to volunteer and serve,” said Walker.

• Patricia Esplin is an incumbent councilor who has served two years. She couldn’t be reached by The Enterprise.


• Register to vote online HERE

• Last day to register: Tuesday, Oct. 13 

• NOTE: File new voter registration if you have moved; ballots are not forwarded like other mail. 

• Request absentee ballot if you will be away from home HERE

• Ballots mailed: Wednesday, Oct. 14 

• Last day to mail ballot: Tuesday, Oct. 27 

• Election Day: Tuesday, Nov. 3  

CORRECTION: Kevin Petross is a property manager for KW Realty. An earlier version incorrectly reported he worked for another company. The Enterprise apologizes for the error.


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