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New Halsey mayor enjoys small-town life

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HALSEY — Jerry Lachenbruch never thought he'd ever occupy a political office, let alone become the mayor of a small town.

But he now finds himself in exactly that position as the new mayor of Halsey (population: 974). He was appointed mayor in February — he said he did "zero campaigning" — after Clifford Jones, who had been elected by write-in vote, decided to not accept the position. Lachenbruch's term of office will end Dec. 31, 2020.

“I’ve always had a strong sense of community service,” he said. “I’ve always been driven to give back to my community when I can.”

Lachenbruch and his wife, Mary, moved to the mid-valley three years ago to be closer to his parents in Corvallis. They lived in Corvallis for a year themselves while looking for a home in a smaller town. They found that Halsey fit their needs.

“Like any small town, Halsey is trying to maintain its infrastructure, but in such a way that it doesn’t tax residents to death,” Lachenbruch said.

Lachenbruch wants to see the community invest in renewable energy to save money in the long-term.

“I’d like to see more business growth in the Halsey area,” he said. “We’re sort of a bedroom community for Albany. We don’t need to see it grow so much that it loses its charm, but we do need to grow a bit and to provide more things for the young members of our community.”

In fact, he and a friend, who lives in California, find themselves in similar political positions.

“We never thought we would be in politics, but he’s now the mayor of Jurupa Valley,” Lachenbruch said. “We’re both happy we ended up where we are.”

Small-town life isn’t something new for Lachenbruch, who's previously lived in small towns in Montana.

“I love small towns,” he said. “My wife grew up in a town about the size of Halsey in Illinois. Halsey felt like home the first time we visited here. I could feel my blood pressure drop when we came to town.”

Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.

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