McBride, Kunkel neck-and-neck in District 5 race
With 10,192 ballots counted in the Newberg City Council race for the District 5 position, former councilor and longtime CPRD board member Mike McBride leads by just seven votes over businesswoman and sustainability activist Maryl Kunkel.
As of Nov. 11 — according to the Secretary of State's website — the count stands at 3,364 to 3,357 in favor of McBride, a margin of 33.01% to 32.94%.
Kunkel, who said she has communicated with Yamhill County Clerk Brian Van Bergen about the state of the race, said there are still outstanding ballots with signature issues that voters can fix through Nov. 17. The deadline for a final decision is Nov. 23, once any remaining ballots with errors have been fixed and/or counted. After that, it is unclear whether the race will qualify for a recount. Oregon law requires a recount when the difference between two candidates is less than one-fifth of 1 percent of the total votes cast. In this case, that would be about 20 votes.
McBride believes he will be declared the winner and expressed skepticism about the process. The race has been close between him and Kunkel since early results were first announced, but the margin has tightened as the days have passed since Nov. 3.
"I think it's pretty strange, myself," McBride said. "I've never seen this happen. Normally the votes are all counted within a couple hours. It makes me put up some red flags because I really believed I was going to win this, and I didn't think it would change as much as it has.
"It makes me wonder what is really going on. Why is it that the numbers keep changing? I have never experienced this before, and for it to change like this, it makes me wonder what is really happening here."
There is no evidence of any malfeasance on the part of Yamhill County elections officials or voters, and as things stand McBride would be elected to the council, albeit by a slim margin. If he is elected when the dust settles, McBride said his focus will be on bringing "good jobs" to Newberg, fighting against "unnecessary taxes" and working to influence a change in the council's priorities.
McBride believes the way the council is structured doesn't allow for proper representation of the community's viewpoints, and he envisioned his time on the council as one of a changemaker rather than someone who "rubber stamps a bunch of ordinances."
"I was glad to see a number of candidates run, but unfortunately, there wasn't anybody running against Elise Yarnell (in District 1)," McBride said. "She ran unopposed. I just think it's silly to split it up in districts like this. That's big town politics in a small town. I think that's why it takes so long to fill spots when someone leaves."
The move to council districts came about in 1994 as a referendum by Newberg citizens.
McBride will now wait along with Kunkel for all the votes to be tallied. A decision could come before Nov. 23, but may take until then, according to the county. Despite his lead, McBride expressed worry about the prolonged count and how a potential recount might be conducted.
"I don't know if there will be a recount, but if we have one, how long is that going to take?" McBride said. "If there is a recount, I'd like to be there to look at it. If I didn't have a trip planned over the last weekend, I would have asked to come and watch the counting just to make sure everything is happening correctly. This whole thing makes me very curious."
For more information on the election results from around the state and Yamhill County in particular, visit the Oregon Secretary of State's website.
Hollamon was re-elected to the council after running unopposed in District 1. Denise Bacon staved off opponent Adam McGuffie in District 3 to earn another term as well.
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