Many were shocked by the midterm congressional races in the United States, which saw one of the best performances by the party in control of the White House in the last century, leaving control of both chambers of Congress narrower than anticipated.
However, closer to home in the state of Oregon and Josephine County specifically, the election unfolded more or less as it was expected to.
Businessman John West (56.47%; 18,628 votes) expanded his margin of victory from the May primary over Grants Pass City Councilor Brian DeLaGrange (43.02%; 14,191 votes) to secure Position 1 on the Josephine County Board of Commissioners, which retiring Commissioner Darin Fowler will vacate.
Results for the Law Enforcement Retail Activities Tax, AKA LERAT, showcased the “No New Taxes” mentality held by many a resident. The seasonal sales tax was opposed by 30,426 voters (82.48%), while 6,462 (17.52%) voted yes.
Sheriff Dave Daniel (23,848 votes; 68.68%), who won reelection handily over challenger Jonathan Knapp (10,755; 30.97%), has said that he will have to significantly downsize his sheriff’s office without the funds LERAT would have raised.
Daniel was also strongly opposed to the legalization of psilocybin in Josephine County, and he got his way on this matter, as 26,910 voters (74.68%) voted for a prohibition of psilocybin product manufacturing, while 9,126 (25.32%) were against. In addition, 26,375 voters (72.53%) voted against psilocybin service centers, compared to 9,987 (27.47%) who were in favor. Service centers are locations where psilocybin can legally be prescribed to patients under supervision.
In Cave Junction, voters were in favor of prohibiting psilocybin-related businesses for two years 363 (62.91%) to 214 (37.09%).
Cave Junction voters also approved of updating and amending the Cave Junction Charter of 1981 by a margin of 346 (61.68%) to 215 (38.32%). Grants Pass voters, on the other hand, rejected changes to their city charter 9,677 (70.31%) to 4,087 (29.69%).
In state races, votes were still being tabulated as of press deadline, but multiple news outlets had reported the victories of Democrat Tina Kotek (829,179 votes; 46.98%) over Republican Christine Drazan (768,136 votes; 43.53%) and Independent Betsy Johnson (152,504 votes; 8.64%) for governor; Democrat Ron Wyden (976,125 votes; 56%) over Republican Jo Rae Perkins (713,452 votes; 40.93%) for U.S. Senate; Republican Cliff Bentz (199,391 votes; 67.46%) over Democrat Joe Yetter (95,723 votes; 32.39%) for U.S. Congress – Oregon District 2; and Republican Lily Morgan (19,358 votes; 67.7%) over Brady Keister (9,172 votes; 32.08%) for Oregon State Representative – District 3.
Republicans hoped Drazan could become the first GOP Oregon governor since 1982 due to the third party candidacy of Johnson, who seemed to be drawing more support from Kotek than Drazan. However, Johnson did not get as many votes as some polls indicated she would.
In Josephine County, Drazan received 24,109 votes (63.89%), while Kotek got 10,342 votes (27.41%) and Johnson got 2,843 votes (7.53%).
Four statewide measures were on the ballot, and while all are expected to pass once the votes are entirely counted, two were leading by a razor thin margin as of press deadline.
Measure 111 would amend the state constitution to ensure affordable healthcare access, balanced against the requirement to fund schools and other essential services. The measure was leading statewide 857,908 (50.59%) to 838,022 (49.41%); and losing 23,611 (64.67%) to 12,900 (35.33%) in JoCo.
Measure 112 would amend the state constitution to remove language allowing slavery and indentured servitude as punishment for crime. The measure was leading statewide 945,075 (55.53%) to 756,779 (44.47%); and losing 23,543 (64.74%) to 12,825 (35.26%) in JoCo.
Measure 113 would amend the state constitution to disqualify legislators with 10 unexcused absences from floor sessions from holding their next term of office. The measure was leading statewide 1,166,729 (68.25%) to 542,864 (31.75%); and also leading 20,430 (55.93%) to 16,096 (44.07%) in JoCo.
Measure 114 would require permits to acquire firearms and ban the sale and ownership of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The measure was leading 885,470 (50.85%) to 855,772 (49.15%); and losing 25,699 (68.83%) to 11,638 (31.17%) in JoCo.
Three sheriffs in Oregon, including Sheriff Nathan Sickler in Jackson County, have said they will not designate resources to enforce limits on magazine capacity if Measure 114 does end up passing. The measure is anticipated to face legal challenges.
Several incumbents within the county secured reelection in uncontested races, including: Cave Junction Mayor Meadow Martell; County Clerk/Recorder Rhiannon Henkels; Cave Junction City Councilor – Position 1 Ethan Lane; and Cave Junction City Councilor – Position 3 Jean Ann Miles.