Bates hopes to force a recount

Incumbent Jim Bernard of Wilsonville has claimed victory for the position 5 seat for Clackamas County commissioner over challenger Steve Bates of Boring.

But Bates is saying it's too early to concede the election, especially with the latest vote tally provided Thursday morning, May 22, showing Bernard in the lead with 28,325 votes and Bates close behind with 27,599 votes.

Bates had planned to concede the election at the County Commissioner's meeting Thursday, but changed his mind when he learned that 379 ballots were rejected because they weren't signed and 229 weren't counted because the signatures didn't match.

Bates has sent a request for all those names and addresses, and he and his volunteers plan to contact each voter so they can correct their ballots and have their vote count.

If enough ballots favor Bates to bring the difference between him and Bernard to 0.2 percent, he said, it would force a recount.

“Getting into the automatic recount could change the complexion of the election,” he said. "I am still holding out hope."

Bates said the county will give him the names and addresses next Wednesday, May 29, and he doesn't plan to concede until those votes are counted.

"I am still holding out hope," Bates said.

In the meantime, Bates and friends are busy picking up his campaign signs, but given the closeness of the race, his first time to run for county office, he is not throwing them away.

“Several people have encouraged me to save my signs and put my hat in the ring in 2016,” he said. “Tootie Smith, John Ludlow and Martha Schrader are all up for re-election.”

Bernard, meanwhile, has declared victory in the campaign.

“I’m excited to continue the county’s work, and I think a lot has been said about the negativity that has occurred, and negativity is not appropriate and not conducive to winning an election,” Bernard said. “It’s nice to be done in May, and I have another four years of work.”

The negative campaign actually began with a fundraising letter Bernard sent to constituents in which he slammed Bates for leading the withdrawal of TriMet bus service to Boring and stopping a highway interchange at Boring, among other things.

Bates responded that everything was true, but Bernard had taken his actions out of context. Metro buses were running empty and cost Boring businesses a lot of money and the interchange would have cut off access to Highway 26 for many Boring residents, Bates responded.

Bernard, a former mayor of Milwaukie, said he supports local improvements there.

“With the bond passing now, there’s an opportunity to move forward with the Riverfront Park project, and I’m committed to help Milwaukie complete that,” Bernard said.

Clackamas Review News Editor Raymond Rendleman contributed to this report.