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By narrow margins, both conservatives who stirred controversy likely will stay on until next year.

PMG PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Workers at the Yamhill County Clerk's Office process ballots on Tuesday afternoon in the recall effort against Newberg school board members Dave Brown and Brian Shannon.

An early count of ballots cast in the recall efforts against Newberg School Board chairman Dave Brown and vice-chairman Brian Shannon show the pair likely will continue to hold their volunteer positions until at least next year, when their terms end.

Brown and Shannon drew the ire of some students, faculty and community members last year by, first, banning banners for Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ issues from all schools, then banning all political banners. Community members began gathering signatures for a recall this winter.

Of 11,677 ballots counted by 8 p.m. Tuesday, about 51% voted against recalling the controversial chairman, with almost 49% in favor of ousting Brown.

Shannon enjoyed similar numbers. Of 11,740 ballots cast in that race, the vice-chairman looked likely to hold his job by 51% to 49%.

The preliminary turnout for the election was high, with the eight precincts within the Newberg School District voting at a 46.7% pace. That easily outdistances the 2019 election that put Brown and Shannon in office, with 24% turnout, as well as the May 2021 election — 17% turnout — that installed their two fellow conservative members, Renee Powell and Trevor DeHart, on the board.

Community tension

The drive to recall Brown and Shannon, both elected in 2019, came about after more than seven months of discord on the normally staid school board over issues ranging from prohibiting political symbols in schools to hiring supplemental legal counsel, terminating a popular school superintendent's contract and possible violations of the state's public meetings laws.

The recalls center on Brown and Shannon, but the ire of the organizations questioning the board's actions extend to directors Powell and DeHart. The rancor includes a number of lawsuits filed against the board by constituents and a local special education assistant, by the board against a handful of constituents and by outside organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union.

The lead-up to the elections saw both sides canvasing neighborhoods with volunteers going door-to-door, ad campaigns in print and online, skirmishes over campaign signs and letter-writing campaigns directed at this and other newspapers. Mailers for and against the recall stuffed local mailboxes for the past two weeks and organizations such as the anti-abortion Oregon Right to Life and teachers' unions were increasingly visible as well.

Yamhill County Clerk Brian Van Bergen, whose office is responsible for administering the election, said most of the ballots would be counted on election night, although a new state law gives voters an additional two weeks to "cure" any ballots that surfaced with voter signature issues.

In addition, because the school district is geographically positioned within three counties, a final vote tally will not be possible for several days and could possibly alter the final results.


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