Elections, Politics, Washington County

Thursday vote tally for county, state races and measures

Two ballots are dropped off in Forest Grove. Photo: Chas Hundley

With newer results in hand from the Oregon Secretary of State, here is where county, state, and federal races and measures stand on Thursday afternoon. The percentages and vote counts will likely shift slightly as county elections offices finalize counting, and correct ballots with signature mismatches. 

In an email to the Gales Creek Journal, Washington County spokesperson Philip Bransford said that the turnout for Washington County will be updated at 6 p.m. on the results website from the Oregon Secretary of State. Currently, 323,671 ballots have been returned in Washington County from 385,962 eligible voters. 

The presidential race remains too close to call; with several states continuing to count ballots amid unsubstantiated cries of fraud levied by political operatives in support of President Donald Trump and by Trump himself. 

The next state to indicate that it may have enough results counted to determine a winner is Pennsylvania, whose secretary of state, Kathy Boockvar, said that there may be an update Thursday evening with a winner declared. 

At the congressional level, Suzanne Bonamici, the Democratic incumbent, won reelection to her 1st Congressional District seat against Republican Christopher C. Christensen with 64.68% of the vote to Christensen’s 35.12% of ballots cast.

Oregon’s junior senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat, was also reelected, beating Jo Rae Perkins, a Republican, with 57.34% of the votes to Perkins’ 39.04% of the vote. Two minor party candidates did not crack 2% of the vote each. 

For state level races, Democratic candidate Shemia Fagan won the election to become Oregon’s Secretary of State, beating Republican Kim Thatcher with 50.82% to Thatcher’s 42.86%. Nathalie Paravicini, who netted the nominations of the Pacific Green and Progressive Party, pulled in 3.53% of the vote, while Hillsboro resident and Libertarian Party candidate Kyle Markley received 2.68% of the vote. 

Tobias Read, a Democrat, won reelection to become State Treasurer, beating Republican Jeff Gudman, with 52.2% of the vote to Gudman’s 41.15%. Chris Henry (Independent, Progressive, Pacific Green) received 4.32% of the vote and Michael P. Marsh (Constitution) received 2.23%. 

Ellen Rosenblum, a Democrat, won reelection for Attorney General, pulling in 56.42% of the vote to Republican Michael Cross’ 41.02%. Libertarian candidate Lars D. H. Hedbor received 2.21%. 

Oregonians passed every state measure before them on the ballot. 

Measure 107, which amends Oregon’s constitution to make campaign contribution limits legal, passed with enormous voter support, coasting to victory with 78.61% of voters saying “yes.”

Measure 108, which raises taxes on cigarettes and cigars and establishes taxes on vaping devices and funds health programs passed with 66.68% of voters approving the measure. 

Measure 109, which allows the manufacture, deliver, and administration of psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient found in hallucinogenic mushrooms, for therapeutic purposes, passed with 55.72% of the vote approving the measure. 

Measure 110, which decriminalizes possession of small amounts of some illegal drugs in favor of treatment and a civil demeanor on the same level of legal severity as a traffic ticket, passed with 58.64% of the vote. 

Steven Vangrunsven won his unopposed race for Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District At-large Director Position 1; Dean Moberg beat back two challengers for an overwhelming win for Position 2 with 57.04% of the vote, Jerry Ward won with no opposition for Zone 1 director, Gales Creek’s Eldon Jossi also ran unopposed and won reelection to his Zone 2 director position, and Anna Jesse won for the unopposed Zone 4 position. 

Measure 34-300, which changes how the five members of the Washington County Board of Commissioners pay is calculated, likely resulting in a raise for these elected officials, has passed with wide support, pulling in 60.61% “yes” votes. 

As it stands, the Washington County Charter pegs pay for the Washington County Chair — an at-large position currently held by Kathryn Harrington — at 80% of a Circuit Court Judge, which in turn is defined by state law under ORS 292.416 and as of July 1, 2020, was an annual wage of $147,136, meaning Harrington currently receives just under $118,000 annually. Washington County’s median household income is $85,734 according to American Community Service (ACS) data from 2019. 

For the other four board members, who are elected to represent specific districts within the county, the pay is 40% of the county chair, per charter rules. This puts their pay at just over $47,000. 

With the passage of the measure, an independent salary commission made up of five human resources professionals with relevant experience in calculating compensation will be created.  On odd numbered years, starting in 2021, the commission will establish salaries for the five members of the Washington County Board of Commissioners, and will be required to document their decision-making process. According to the county, this process is similar to that used by other counties, and is also enumerated in ORS 204.112.

Washington County voters also passed measure 34-301, a measure that allows the  Washington County Board of Commissioners to pass land use ordinances during the entire calendar year. The measure received 64.16% votes in the “yes” camp. 

As the rules currently stand, the county has eight months out of the year to pass land use ordinances. With the passage of the measure, commissioners will be able to adopt land use measures for all 12 calendar months beginning January 1, 2021. 

In an argument in favor of the measure submitted to the Washington County voters’ pamphlet, Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington noted that the rule stems from a pre-internet era.

“The restriction dates back to a time when all of this work was done on paper, subject to printing and mail delivery timelines.”

No arguments in opposition to the measure were submitted to the Washington County voters’ pamphlet.

Voters in North Plains also approved a measure to add a gas tax within city limits of $0.03 per gallon.

In House District 31, one of the closes legislative races in the state, Democratic Party incumbent Brad Witt is in the lead, with 50.49% of the vote to Republican challenger Brian G. Stout’s 49.37%. Just 461 votes separate the two candidates. 

In House District 29, Democrat incumbent Susan McLain won the race with 57.72% of the vote to Republican opponent Dale Fishback’s 42.07%.

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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