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Walden to face McLeod-Skinner and Roberts for Second Congressional District seat

Crook County voters elected a new tax assessor Tuesday night, and Knute Buehler will take on incumbent Kate Brown for Oregon governor in November.

Jon Soliz defeated incumbent Brian Huber in the first contested race for Crook County Assessor in more than 40 years. Soliz received 60.48 percent of the 5,534 votes cast for the position while 39.28 percent of the votes went to Huber.

"Since beginning this campaign, I have been moved by what people have shared with me regarding the need for change at the Assessor's Office," Soliz said. "The opportunity allowed people to have a voice, and they stood up and spoke it loud and clear on election night. I'm privileged with the opportunity to be a part of that voice and help make that change."

Huber will remain in office for the duration of his term, which concludes at the end of the calendar year. Soliz, who is currently an appraiser at the office, will then take over the position.

"I would like to thank all of the people that supported me through the election, their kindness and thoughtfulness made a difficult process easier," Huber said. "I owe a special thanks to my family, especially, my amazing fiancée, who was always there for me through thick and thin. I have enjoyed my 19 years with the county and have seen a lot of changes throughout the years. I am very proud of my tenure as Assessor, the changes that were made and the work that was completed. I rest easy knowing that every decision that was made was based on what is best for the entire community and not for my own political gain. And finally I would like to thank my current staff. They made coming to work every day a joy."

Two other local offices, Crook County Commissioner and 22nd District Circuit Court Judge, were decided Tuesday, though neither victor faced any competition for the position. Incumbent Brian Barney was elected commissioner, and Annette Hillman was re-elected to another judicial term.

A crowded race for Oregon Governor was whittled down to three as incumbent Kate Brown handily claimed the Democratic Party nomination with 81.82 percent of the 371,531 votes cast. Crook County Democratic voters were more divided, but still approved Brown with 57.82 percent of the local vote.

Knute Buehler emerged victorious over Sam Carpenter, Greg Wooldridge and others to claim the Republican nomination. Buehler won 46.36 percent of the 294,256 votes cast statewide, compared to 29.04 percent for Carpenter and 19.40 percent for Wooldridge. Locally, Carpenter received more support, winning 34.30 percent of the vote, but Buehler still emerged as the most popular local choice (48.57 percent).

Patrick Starnes received the most votes in the Independent Party race for Governor, but more write-in votes were cast (54.96 percent) than those for Starnes (26.33 percent). Consequently, the victor of the race will not be determined until the write-in votes are counted within the next couple weeks.

Several nonpartisan state races were decided Tuesday night as well, highlighted by a multi-candidate competition for Bureau of Labor and Industry Commissioner. Val Hoyle won the statewide vote, gaining 52.30 percent of the 673,892 votes cast. Runner-up Lou Ogden received 35.16 percent of the vote, although Crook County voters preferred him over Hoyle, casting 45.46 percent of vote in his favor compared to 31.79 percent for Hoyle.

Meagan Flynn claimed Oregon Supreme Court Judge Position 3, and Rebecca Duncan was named to Position 2. Voters also elected candidates for three Oregon Court of Appeals Judge positions. James Egan claimed Position 6, Rex Armstrong won Position 10, and David Orr emerged the victor of a three-candidate race for Position 9.

At the federal level, incumbent Greg Walden handily won the Republican Party nomination for Second Congressional District Representative.

"I thank the voters of Southern, Central and Eastern Oregon for supporting me as the Republican nominee to represent our district in Congress," he said. "We have made great progress improving forest management to reduce the risk of wildfires, combating the opioid crisis, cutting taxes and rolling back regulations, supporting our rural communities and getting veterans the care they deserve. But there is much more to be done."

Walden received 77.39 percent of the 99,482 Republican votes cast in House District 2, while Prineville resident Paul Romero received 16.35 percent. Locally, Romero received more support, claiming 18.59 percent of the Republican votes compared to 75.11 percent for Walden.

Romero was highly critical of the voter turnout for the primary, calling it "just terrible."

"All of these elections are pretty important, and I think everyone needs to take that to heart," he said.

The Republican runner-up was likewise critical of Walden and urged him to do a better job if he retains his seat in Congress this November.

"I would hope that he will make more of an effort to address the issues of jobs and the timber industry," he said.

Meanwhile, Romero said he will continue to seek Walden's spot in Congress in upcoming elections, and he plans to immediately resume campaigning efforts.

"You never give up, never surrender," he said. "You've got to keep trying."

Jamie McLeod-Skinner claimed the Democratic Party nomination over runner-up Jennifer Neahring. Of the 58,297 votes cast district-wide by Democratic voters, 42.78 percent went to McLeod-Skinner compared to 23.69 percent for Neahring. Locally, the race was much closer, with McLeod-Skinner winning just 25.95 percent of Crook County Democratic votes and Neahring receiving 24.60 percent.

Walden and McLeod Skinner will face Independent Party victor Mark Roberts, who won 66.26 percent of the votes cast by his party district-wide.

Results of the primary election remain unofficial at this time, but Crook County Clerk Cheryl Seely said they will be certified within the next 14 days.

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