Ken Mulenex appears to be the first directly elected mayor in La Pine, according to unofficial returns Tuesday.
Mulenex, serving as mayor from an elected council seat since January 2011, on Tuesday narrowly defeated former Mayor Stu Martinez, according to unofficial returns.
The city adopted new election rules to directly elect a mayor this year. And for Mulenex, who has lived in La Pine since 1996, being directly elected adds special meaning to the position, he said Tuesday night.
“It takes on a different aspect now for me that, if it proves out that I am the first elected mayor, the citizens have elected me,” Mulenex said. “I am actually representing (La Pine voters) as the face of the city because they said, ‘Ken, we want you to be our face.’ So yes, it does have special meaning to me.”
Mulenex, 74, moved to La Pine in 1996. An Air Force veteran of 20 years in computer maintenance, he earned a degree in marine biology and chemistry and then worked again in computers before buying a liquor store in California.
He reiterated his concern about bringing family-wage jobs to La Pine, ensuring respect for seniors and preserving the city’s small-town feel.
Mulenex will continue to serve alongside Martinez, whose term on city council expires in 2014.
Martinez was appointed mayor himself in 2007, but was forced to step down to battle throat cancer.
He runs Wilderness Garbage & Recycling. He was elected to the council six years ago.
Kathy Agan, 69, retired mental health worker, was also elected to the city council.