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Interim clerk, appointed after her predecessor's resignation, earns over 70% of midterm votes

Despite several hiccups in her bid for Yamhill County clerk, incumbent Keri Hinton saw her landslide victory against opponent Cory Fribley confirmed Nov. 8 after all ballots had been counted. Hinton

By then, Hinton had secured over 70% of the votes, perhaps unsurprisingly due to her experience and name recognition and her challenger's lack thereof.

Hinton was appointed interim county clerk in July after predecessor Brian Van Bergen resigned to take another job in Marion County. Before that, she worked briefly as deputy clerk and has close to a decade of administrative professional experience.

In contrast, Newberg resident Fribley, an assistant manager at a jewelry store in Tigard, had no prior government experience and it was his first time running for any type of office.Fribley

Fribley said he knew from the beginning that beating Hinton would be "a huge uphill battle."

"Once Keri got all the Republican endorsements and help, it was very tough to overcome that …," he said in an email interview. "I ran on being independent and for all the people of Yamhill County. That did mean I couldn't pick sides and that made it more difficult. The only thing I might change is being able to go speak to more groups and get my message out that way."

Fribley said he did speak with the Yamhill Democrats, but eventually decided against asking for an endorsement.

"Like most independents that run, with no side it makes it more difficult with outreach and support," he said, adding that he also chose to self-fund his campaign, which resulted in him being enormously outspent by the incumbent.

Fribley also argued Van Bergen's sudden resignation allowed him little time to launch his campaign and, as it was his first time running for office, he had to learn a lot about the process quickly. To promote himself, he did a small sign campaign, but relied heavily on social media and word of mouth.

"One thing I promised myself was I would respond to anyone who asked questions, good or bad," he said. "I stayed true to that and made some amazing connections that way."

But he acknowledged his efforts couldn't overcome Hinton's superior resume.

"An outside perspective and approach can be a benefit, but people also want consistency from government experience," Fribley said.

However, he admitted that he thought an error on the ballot not discovered by Hinton — which resulted in some Newberg residents' ballots not showing the City Council race — helped his campaign a little.

"When the Newberg issue did come up, I feel it did help some," he said. "Though I think my response of not being negative and attacking helped more. People are fed up with politicians' mudslinging and getting ugly, and I tried to set an example."

Even though the ballot mistake might have helped his campaign, he said he "would never hope for issues with the ballot or election" as "one of my reasons for running was to try and keep Yamhill County out of the papers for negative news."

This may not be the last the county sees of Fribley.

"I won't rule out running again, but probably not in the near future," he said. "This experience gave me many great things and a better understanding of the campaign and election process. I have total respect for anyone who puts their name up for election. One thing I learned is that anyone can make a difference."

On the chance Fribley does run for office again, he said he will probably pursue a lesser position.

"My message was always about working for everyone in the county and seeing that people responded to that is inspiring," he said. "It was a truly humbling experience meeting so many people who are passionate about politics and improving Yamhill County. I congratulate Keri and her team for the win and wish her and the clerk's office the best running future elections."

Hinton declined to comment until all the ballots were counted.


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