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School, fire and rescue, parks and rec board positions open as well as water district boards

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - The 2019 Special Districts election will take place May 21.

Multiple positions for 11 different district boards are up for grabs this coming spring, and the opportunity to file has arrived.

Filing for nine special districts in Crook County and two others that are shared with Deschutes County opened Saturday, Feb. 9 officially, and Monday, Feb. 11 practically, since it was the first work day at the County Clerk's office.

The districts featuring openings include the County Cemetery (one position), Fire and Rescue (two positions), School (three positions) and Parks and Recreation (three positions) districts as well as the Jasper Knolls Water District (two positions), Juniper Canyon Water Control District (four positions), Jordan Water Control District (three positions) and Ochoco West Water and Sanitary Authority (four positions).

Districts shared with Deschutes County include the Alfalfa Fire District, which has four openings, and Redmond Fire and Rescue, which has two open positions.

"Our voters in those districts will get to vote on those, but you would have to file (for candidacy) in Deschutes County," Crook County Clerk Cheryl Seely explained.

So far, four people have filed for positions, all of which are incumbents. Jim Dean is seeking another term at Position 5 with the Crook County Fire and Rescue District, and Jeremy Logan is seeking re-election for Position 2 on the Parks and Recreation District Board. The school district has two candidates, with Doug Smith having filed for Zone 1 and Patti Norris for Zone 3.

Unlike other elections whose candidates will serve an entire county or municipality, the special district elections determine the candidates that serve a select area. Only one, the Crook County Cemetery District, serves the entire county.

"There are all kinds of different districts defined by statute," Seely said, noting one of them that does not exist in Crook County is a road district. "The majority of them are not county-wide."

Seely added that most districts, depending on their size, typically feature open positions each election for about half of the seats on their respective boards. The remainder of the four-year terms are determined during the next special district election two years later.

Filing is open through March 21 at 5 p.m., Seely said, and potential candidates are encouraged to visit the County Clerk's website or Oregon Secretary of State's website to file.

"We don't provide filing forms, she said, adding that it's because "we like them to read the candidate's manual" that can be found online as well.

Seely went on to note that candidates can expect a filing fee of $10 and said that people with questions about the districts should contact them directly. That information is not available at the Clerk's Office, she said, although they can provide contact information for the districts.

The special districts election will take place on May 21 this year. The deadline to register to vote in the election is April 30, and Seely hopes to mail out ballots on May 1, the first day they may legally do so.

Historically, voter turnout for special district elections has been considerably low compared to other elections. For example, the 2017 special district election saw a turnout of approximately 18 percent, compared to 2018's midterm election (67 percent) and the 2016 presidential election (81 percent).

"District (elections) are considerably low," she said.

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