Will county primary be a quiet one?
The deadline to file for the 2018 primary election is just one week away, and so far, only four candidates have filed to fill three different offices.
Three county positions are up for grabs in May, only one of which features more than one candidate. Incumbent Cheryl Seely is the lone filer for County Clerk, and the race for Crook County Commissioner only includes incumbent Brian Barney. However, two have filed for County Assessor with incumbent Brian Huber going against Jon Soliz, who works as an appraiser at the assessor's office.
"It has been very quiet," said Seely, who is responsible for managing the county election process. "We have had a couple people come in and maybe an inquiry or two on the phone over what positions are available for the county and who has filed so far."
In addition, a couple people have asked how to obtain the paperwork if they chose to file, but this hasn't resulted in any action or possibility of new candidates.
"I haven't seen any serious interest," Seely said.
This quiet election cycle is drastically different than the 2016 county election where the positions of sheriff, surveyor and treasurer were decided as well as county judge and the other county commissioner seat.
In that election cycle during the primary, the surveyor race featured two candidates, and three people were gunning for the judge position. The county commissioner opening drew seven different candidates.
This year, potentially for the first time in Crook County's history, the race for county commissioner could end up uncontested. Seely points out that the commissioner position was partisan until November 2014, so that race always featured at least one Republican and Democratic candidate. While they may not have faced any competition in the primary, there was always a challenger from the other party.
Also, since there is just one commissioner candidate thus far, that race could be decided in May instead of during the general election in November.
"If there are one or two candidates filed in the primary, then that position is actually elected in the primary," Seely said.
The assessor position could also be decided during the primary if no other candidates file. Whatever the outcome, this will be the first time the race for the position has been contested in at least a half a century.
"Clear back to the early 1970s, that race has not been contested," Seely said.
Making the situation even rarer is that it people who run for assessor must meet some basic qualifications. Candidates must be a registered appraiser or appraiser trainee and have two years accounting experience or two years employment in the Assessor's Office. They must also be certified by the Oregon Department of Revenue.
"That narrows the field of potential candidates," Seely remarked.
Another development contributing to a lighter 2018 primary ballot is voters will not elect a sheriff during this four-year cycle. When former Crook County Sheriff Jim Hensley, whose term was going to conclude in 2018, retired in 2015, John Gautney was appointed to fill the position until the next general election, which was in 2016. Because Gautney retained the position by election that year, his term does not end until 2020.
Also, unless two or more people file for County Clerk, that office will not appear on the May ballot because the Oregon constitution mandates that the clerk office is elected in the general election.
While the slate of local positions is light in the May primary, it will pick up for in November. Not only will voters determine the clerk position, three Prineville City Council positions and the office of Prineville Mayor will be decided. Filing for city council positions does not open until August. Also, an effort is under way to potentially file a bond measure for a new swimming pool.
The filing deadline for the May primary is Tuesday, March 6. Most ballots will be mailed to voters on April 25, and the election will be held on May 15.