Less than 40% of JoCo voters participate in election

With both major political parties’ presidential nominees all but locked in at an unusually early time this year, voter turnout in Oregon was discouragingly low for the May 21 primary. The Office of the Secretary of State reported as of Monday, May 27 that only 33.64%, or 1,013,232, of the state’s 3,011,563 active registered voters cast ballots last week. In Josephine County, the number was 38.85%, or 27,155, of 69,897 active registered voters.
These voters continued Josephine County’s well-known trend of shooting down new taxes, sending all three ballot measures down in flames.
Measure 17-116, which would have replaced the county’s current charter with an amended version, failed 17,531 (67.38%) to 8,488 (32.62%). Opponents waged a passionate campaign against this measure, claiming it would dilute provisions that make JoCo independent from the state government, which has a different political alignment than local government. Instead of a three-member board governing the county, the new charter would have instituted a five-member board – four voted on by geographically divided districts, and one at-large position for the entire county – as well as a county manager that would assume the day-to-day responsibilities of county government.
Measure 17-117, a five-year local option tax for animal control and the animal shelter, failed 15,558 (59.94%) to 10,400 (40.06%). Proponents of the measure stressed the need for a new facility due to unsanitary conditions and lack of space.
Measure 17-118, authorizing Three Rivers School District to go out for bond to improve safety, security and reroof aged buildings, failed 10,911 (68.04%) to 5,125 (31.96%). TRSD Superintendent Dave Valenzuela recently recounted at a school board meeting how common leaks are at current school roofs, noting they are several years past their life expectancy.
No candidate for Josephine County Commission Position #2 or /#3 reached the 50% of votes needed to avoid a runoff election in November. The top two vote getters for each position advance.
For Position #2, radio personality and retired Air Force Chief Chris Barnett got the most votes with 10,909 (45.46%); realtor and former Chamber of Commerce CEO Colene Martin got the second most with 5,696 (23.73%). The two other candidates in the race – retired firefighter Mark Jones (4,269 votes, 17.79%) and newspaper publisher Dan Mancuso (3,052 votes, 12.72%) – were eliminated.
For Position #3, accountant and former Southern Oregon Sanitation general manager Pat Fahey secured 9,240 votes (38.7%); former small business owner Ron Smith got 6,248 votes (26.17%). Eliminated were Grounds Guys of the Rogue Valley managing partner Nathan Gonzalez (5,444 votes, 22.8%) and Center for Human Equality founder Russel McAlmond (2,869 votes, 12.01%).

Chris Parton (13,761 votes, 98.77%) and Peter Allen (14,287 votes, 98.84%) both ran uncontested for county assessor and county surveyor, respectively.
In state races, current District 2 State Senator Art Robinson’s son Noah Robinson (12,850 votes, 61.18%) prevailed over Christine Goodwin (8,086 votes, 38.5%) for the Republican nomination. The two had waged a particularly contentious campaign which saw personal attacks and allegations of impropriety. Due to the district’s heavily conservative bent, Robinson will be a heavy favorite against Democratic nominee Tracy Thompson (5,927 votes, 97.32%), who ran unopposed, in November.
Similarly, unopposed Republican nominee Dwayne Yunker (7,530 votes, 97.17%) is all but assured to win the race against Democratic nominee Mark Seligman (2,414 votes, 61.19%) for District 3 State Representative in November. Seligman defeated Dustin Watkins (1,436 votes, 36.4%) to win the nomination. Both nominees for District 4 State Representative ran unopposed – Republican Alek Skarlatos (8,515 votes, 99.28%) and Democrat Richard Chasm (2,992 votes, 98.29%). The two will face off in November for the safe Republican seat.

For state races, Democrat Tobias Read and Republican Dennis Linthicum secured nominations for secretary of state; Democrat Elizabeth Steiner and Republican Brian Boquist advanced for state treasurer; and Democrat Dan Rayfield will face Republican Will Lathrop for attorney general.

For Federal races, presumptive nominees for president Joe Biden and Donald Trump took the lion’s share of their parties’ votes, with Biden scoring 384,256 (87.08%) over the only other Democrat on the ballot, Marianne Williamson (31,883). Democrats submitted 25,151 (5.70%) write-in votes.

Trump received 283,668 votes (91.63%) from Oregon Republicans, with 25,924 writing in other names (8.37%).

Republican U.S. Representative Cliff Bentz of District 2 (71,089 votes, 81.38%) defeated challenger Jason Beebe (15,884 votes, 18.18%) and is expected to sail to reelection in November when he faces Democratic nominee Dan Ruby (32,568 votes, 84.97%) who beat out Steve William Laible (5,124 votes, 13.37%).