With fewer than one-third of voters returning their ballots in Tuesday's special district election, Jefferson County voters approved a new three-year operations levy for the Jefferson County Correctional Facility.
In unofficial totals, the operations levy passed by a vote of 2,518 yes to 2,021 no — about 54% to 43%. The levy will increase from the five-year rate of $1.24 per $1,000 assessed value passed in 2013, to $1.39 per $1,000 for the next three years.
The increase was needed to offset the approaching loss of Crook County inmates this summer, when the new Crook County jail opens. Crook County has been renting beds from Jefferson County since the local jail opened about 18 years ago. Currently, Crook County rents 16-32 beds at a daily cost of $76.32 per inmate, which amounted to about $700,000 per year.
The vote was in sharp contrast to the November vote, when the vote for a rate of $1.70 per $1,000 failed by a vote of 3,172 yes to 5,344 no — 37.25% to 62.75%.
In this election, which had 14,795 eligible voters, only 4,664 turned in ballots, for a total of 31.5%, compared with the November election, which had 14,509 eligible voters, with 8,906 turning in ballots.
"I think it's typical for this type of election," said County Clerk Kate Zemke, noting that May elections usually have a smaller turnout.
The main feature of the election was large number of seats on special district boards — 44 seats on 17 different boards — all up for grabs, Sixteen seats were contested.
Two of the contested seats were on the School District 509-J Board of Directors, which had three open seats. Incumbent Courtney Snead, who was challenged by Casandra Moses, was reelected by a vote of 1,168 to 820.
For position 5, currently held by Stan Sullivan, who did not seek reelection, Kevin Richards won with 1,097 votes, followed by Carina Miller with 623, and Taylor Lark with 340.
The Culver School Board had one contested seat and one uncontested seat. Position 5 will go to Seth Taylor, who received 367 votes; Brian Silbernagel received 268.
David Slaght, who was not challenged, was reelected to position 2 with 564 votes.
The Ashwood School District elected Ed Jackson and Taasha Cooper, each with 20 votes.
For the Jefferson County Education Service District, Dani Cowdrey received 13 votes, compared to Ed Jackson's 10 for position 1, Ashwood; Daniel Petke received 75 for position 3, Black Butte Zone; and no one filed for position 6, at-large or position 2, Culver.
Fire, emergency districts elect boards
Jefferson County Fire District had three open board seats, two of which were uncontested, and won by incumbents. Rob Galyen received 1,615 votes for position 3, and Tim Whitaker, 1,580 for position 4.
For position 5, currently held by Mike Cloud, who did not seek reelection, Ryan Boyle, who received 1,215 votes, will be the new board member. John Adams also ran for that seat and received 659 votes.
Crooked River Ranch Rural Fire Protection District had four open seats, two of which were uncontested. Brad Pahl received 912 votes for position 1, and Barbara Oakley received 872 for position 4.
For position 3, Jeff Green collected 634 votes to William (Bill) Burt's 438, and for position 5, Mark W. Wilson received 682, compared to Bob Bengston's 404.
Two people vied for each of the three available seats on the Lake Chinook Fire and Rescue Board. Larry Griffin won position 1 with 65 votes to the 58 earned by Larry Griffin; Art Dorsey garnered 79 votes for position 3, compared to Kevin Fitzpatrick's 45 votes; and Robert Zavodsky collected 75 votes, while Joe Parrott received 46.
At Sisters-Camp Sherman Rural Fire Protection District, in a three-way race for position 1, Kristie Miller (49 votes) bested Ken Jones (20) and Stratton Poindexter (9). Chuck Newport (87 votes) and Bill Rainey (75 votes) were unopposed for positions 4 and 5, respectively.
For the Jefferson County Emergency Medical Services District board, two people ran unopposed and were reelected: Steve Heydon for position 3, with 1,873 votes, and David Budden for position 5, with 1,817 votes.
Other boards fill seats
Deschutes Valley Water District board members Richard Avila (position 3) and Dana Oppenlander (position 5) were both unopposed and were reelected with votes of 1,555 and 1,508, respectively.
Incumbent Jo Guiney was challenged for position 4 by Chris Gannon; Guiney was reelected with 984 votes to Gannon's 687.
The Madras Aquatic Center Recreation District had four open seats, only one of which had two candidates. Lindsay Foster-Drago was elected to position 1 with 1,545 votes; the position is currently held by Greg Tippett, who did not seek reelection. Incumbent Jinnell Lewis was unopposed for position 2 and received 1,586 votes, and Greg Williams, who was appointed to position 4, won election to that position with 1,557 votes.
For position 3, incumbent Steve Webb was challenged by Rob Galyen, but retained his seat by a vote of 1,261 to 651.
No candidate filed for position 1 on the Jefferson County Library District, but Guy Chittenden was elected to position 2 with 2,169 votes.