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Jeff McKeown has spent nearly four years as Coos Bay's mayor, but that was long enough. After initially not ruling out the possibility of a third run, McKeown had not filed by Tuesday's 5 p.m. deadline.

"It, for me, was a very difficult decision," McKeown said, calling it an honor to serve as mayor.

Health issues in his family and work responsibilities played into his decision, and he said he didn't feel he could devote the necessary time to being mayor.

"This is not issue-driven in any way," he said.

"Any mayor, any political position, will have issues. That's part of the territory."

10 years on council

McKeown, who also spent roughly 10 years on city council, decided to run for mayor four years ago to help the city he grew up in and loves, he said.

Residents can expect to see him continuing to help the community in other capacities.

"Sure, it's important to me, and its success is important to me."

Through its council members and city staff, McKeown said, Coos Bay has made improvements both financially and as a place to live.

"Hopefully, I made a difference. There's always more we want to do, but at least we keep moving forward."

Gene Melton and Crystal Shoji will vie for mayor instead.

Opponents agree

Melton and Shoji said the city will continue to face infrastructure issues during the next several years.

Shoji said she does work for four other cities in Coos and adjacent counties, and she would like to bring that expertise to Coos Bay. Her long career in public service, as well as her civic involvement, made it a natural decision to run for mayor, she said.

"I just thought that I would like to do some things for my own city."

The mayor sets the tone for the rest of the council, she said, and as a facilitator, she would be able to do that.

‘Lead the charge'

"I'm interested in where the city's going to and how we can help it go that way," Melton said about his decision to run.

"As the mayor, you can kind of lead the charge a little bit," he said.

Currently a council member, he said he has the same goals for the city, especially for its revitalization, as mayor or a councilor.

Three four-year City Council terms also are up for grabs, and seven candidates are seeking to fill them.

Incumbents John Pundt, Mark Daily and Stephanie Kramer face Howard Forte, Jennifer Groth, John Muenchrath and Mike Vaughn.

Reach Alice Campbell at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or at


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