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There will be some new faces on Merrill city council next year as two current incumbents did not seek re-election.

The only contested race in Merrill is between Steven Baley and Gary Robeson for council position 4.

While Baley noted his 31 years as a Merrill resident, Robeson highlighted his experience as an attorney and his intention to ensure equality with his vote.

Two issues Robeson plans to fight for if he wins the seat are pedestrian safety in crosswalks and cleaning up junk, such as abandoned cars, around town. He said he plans to push for reduced parking near crosswalks to improve sightlines and to crack down on code enforcement.

Baley sees water rights and allocation as the biggest issue facing Merrill residents.

“I was instrumental in in securing water this year, which very well could have saved some businesses in Merrill,” he wrote to the H&N in response to a questionnaire.

Robeson pointed to his previous government involvement through roles with the California Department of Transportation’s construction unit, California OSHA enforcement and the state’s compensation insurance fund.

Baley said he feels his local involvement qualifies him for the seat after being a member of the city budget committee, the Merrill Lions Club and the Merrill Rural Volunteer Fire District.

All other races in Merrill are uncontested with mayor Bill Carlson and councilors Regina Picke and Dick Carleton running unopposed to keep their positions. Rodney McCollam is the sole candidate for council position 3.


In Malin, there are four competitors vying for three council seats. Incumbents Ryan Bartholomew, Connie Venegas and Rafael Ivan Hernandez hope voters will keep them on city council. Walt Harrison is challenging for a seat.

Bartholomew said he hopes to continue the progress he’s been a part of while serving on city council. He highlighted advancements, such as securing high-speed internet in Malin, improving infrastructure and increasing law enforcement presence.

“I would be honored to continue to serve the citizens of Malin and serve with the men and women of Malin’s city government,” he wrote to the H&N in response to a questionnaire.

Both Bartholomew and Venegas noted the need for opportunities for young people to stay in Malin instead of moving elsewhere for jobs.

“I have been on city council for about a decade,” Venegas wrote to the H&N. “I care about our community and want to see it grow and continue to develop, as a council member I want to see our youth get more involved with their city.”

Harrison and Hernandez did not respond to the questionnaire by press time.

Reporter Becca Robbins can be reached at 541-885-4481 or