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Five candidates competing for two spots on Crook County Fire and Rescue Board

Five candidates have filed for two Crook County Fire and Rescue Board positions, representing the only contested races in the upcoming 2019 special district election.

The election will have openings on five water district boards and will determine who serves on Crook County Cemetery Board as well as the boards for the School District and Parks and Recreation District.

Three have filed for Position 3 on the Fire and Rescue Board, with incumbent Jerry Brummer getting challenged by George Ponte and Beth Mitchell. Meanwhile, Board Chair Jim Dean will run against Gary Abrams.

The filings come on the heels of an Oregon Employment Relations Board hearing regarding an unfair labor practices complaint filed against the fire district by a local firefighters union. The state board recently determined that the district engaged in anti-union behavior.

This is not the first time the fire district has featured contested races. Crook County Clerk Cheryl Seely noted that multiple candidates filed for positions on the board in 2013 and in other prior elections.

"So this is not unusual for the fire district," she remarked.

Other boards that have historically seen contested races include parks and recreation and school district, however, in this election, all candidates are incumbents who are running unopposed. Those incumbents include Jeremy Logan, Carol Benkosky and Jason Carr for parks and recreation board and Doug Smith, Patti Norris and Walt Wagner for school board.

"We had several inquiries from folks who were interested in running for school district (board), but we didn't see any other filers," Seely said.

The only boards that lack candidates for positions are Highland Subdivision Water District, with only one filing for three different positions, and Jordan Water Control District, which has no candidate filings.

The deadline to register to vote in the special districts election is April 30, Seely said. People who drop by the Clerk's Office to fill out a voter registration card must do so by 5 p.m. that day. Those who are mailing in a voter registration card must have it postmarked no later than April 30, and people who register online must do so by midnight of the same day.

"Our ballots will be mailed to everybody on May 1," Seely said, noting that any ballots going out of state or country, or to military voters, will be mailed at an earlier date.

Seely noted that ballots will differ based on what districts voters reside in. All Crook County voters can determine the outcome of cemetery board and school board positions. Meanwhile the majority of voters will receive ballots with the fire and rescue district and parks and recreation district boards. Water district board voting will be limited to those who reside in the respective districts.

Seely pointed out that no voter pamphlets will be produced for the special districts election, so she recommends that people seeking information about candidates or the district boards contact the candidates or sitting board members directly. The Clerk's Office can only provide whatever information is provided on the candidates' filing forms.

Voter participation in special district elections has been historically low — the turnout for the 2017 election was about 18 percent. Seely would like to see a higher turnout, but she does not expect it to happen and estimates about 20 percent of voters will turn in a ballot.

The special district election will take place May 21.

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