SH City Council gets new blood

Scott Swanson

and Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Incumbents Craig Fentiman and Bob McIntire, along with newcomers Scott McKee Jr. and Eric Markell, were elected Tuesday, Nov. 7, to the four available seats on the Sweet Home City Council.

McKee drew the most votes, with 1,313 counted by early Wednesday morning, followed by Fentiman (1,296), McIntire (1,084) and Markell (1,019). Markell will serve a two-year term. The other three will serve four years.

Of the three other challengers, Kim Lawrence drew 956 votes, Josh Victor 663 and Dan Holman 638.

Both the city levies were approved by a majority of voters. The Sweet Home Police Levy drew 1,358 “yes” votes to 1,021 against. The Sweet Home Library Levy passed 1,412 to 894.

The Sweet Home Fire/Ambulance Bond also passed, with 52 percent of voters approving it, 2,465 to 2,099.

The Linn County Law Enforcement Levy passed with 56 percent of the vote, 22,306-15,673.

Voter turnout was approximately 66 percent, County Clerk Steve Druckenmiller said. That total is expected to rise slightly as ballots come in from other counties.

His office is awaiting those ballots and dealing with challenges and address problems, he said. Once those are resolved, then the county will have final numbers.

“There’s at least a couple hundred ballots coming from other counties,” he said. It is unlikely that they will change results of the close finish between Markell and Lawrence, but it could. To close the gap, pretty much all of the incoming ballots would have to be for one person.

“My strong expectation is that nothing will change there (in Sweet Home),” Druckenmiller said.

Sweet Home results were not available until nearly 1 a.m. Wednesday, the day after the election.

Drucken-miller explained that it just took that long to get through them and deal with extraneous marks that stop the counting machines, determining if they are votes that should be counted.

Local winners said they were eager to get to work, or back to work, as the case might be.

“I’m quite pleased,” Fentiman said. “I’m really happy I got elected to continue moving the city in a positive direction. I’m looking forward to working with the new council members.

“As far as the message goes, the only thing I can think of is people seem to be happy with the way things are going at this point.”

He knows some disagree, and that’s OK, he said.

He chuckled as he told how he seems to always to finish second behind someone who’s been in the community longer or grown up in the community.

McKee said he was “excited” by his finish.

“I’m happy. it blows me away how many votes I got. I was worried about not getting enough to make the two-year position. I’m just totally excited.

“I have a lot to learn the first couple of years.”

He wants to find out where he can make the biggest difference and should focus his energy, he said.

He also congratulated the other new councilor, Markell, a former police officer for the city who now works for the Coburg police.

“I’m excited for Eric Markell,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with him. I liked some of his ideas.”

Markell will serve a two-year term after finishing fourth.

“I’m looking forward to this,” he said. “Scott surprised me, but I’m glad there’s young people on (the council). I think our generation needs to be heard.”

On the earliest returns, Lawrence led Markell by six votes, just before 1 a.m. But by 3:30 a.m., the lead had switched.

Markell said he watched the returns on-line and when they first came in, he said, he woke up his wife and told her he had lost, although he knew there were more ballots to be counted.

Lawrence said she was saddened by her fifth-place finish.

She noted she had a close race, but “I just don’t know” why she didn’t make the top four, she said.

She said she laid out ideas for Sweet Home during the campaign where others just said they had ideas. She attends all the meetings where the other non-incumbents do not.

“I’m going to continue going to the meetings,” she said. “I’m going to continue doing everything. I’ll just get more experience on the Planning Commission.”

In regard to the passage of the police and library levies, “it’s just a big relief,” Fentiman said. “It’s nice to know we’re going to have four years of stable funding.”

That will allow Police Chief Bob Burford and Library Director Leona McCann to plan.

“Thanks to all the voters,” Fentiman said. “Thanks for all the turnout.”

Burford said he was relieved by the outcome of the police services levy, which failed in May because not enough voters cast ballots.

“I really am appreciative,” he said. “We’ll do our best to continue to earn (community) support.”

Despite the positive outcome, Burford said he has mixed feelings about the levy.

“There should not be this pressure,” he said. “I know that the alternative if it fails is that the odds are the Sweet Home Police Department is done.”

There is a chance again in May for failed levies, he said, but that comes with the same 50-percent voter-turnout hurdle that stopped the same levy last May, especially when there is not much on the ballot.

If the levy failed this time, “I would have been making contingency plans on when to make layoffs and alternative law enforcement for the community,” Burford said. “I have an obligation to the men and women that work here to give them a reasonable period to find other employment.”

Given the possibility of passing the levy in a non-general election, it would have been wise for them to start looking, he said.

County Commissioner John Lindsey, a Republican, beat Democratic challenger Glenda Fleming handily with 55 percent of the vote, 21,650-14,228.

Sheriff Tim Mueller and County Clerk Steve Druckenmiller both were unopposed.

* * * * *

In the state and federal races, Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat, pulled away from Republican challenger Ron Saxton to take 50 percent of the vote to Saxton’s 44 percent, 408,852 to 347,937.

Constitutional Party candidate Mary Starrett, a former TV anchorwoman, was top vote-getter among third-party candidates with 29,608 votes, roughly 4 percent.

Fourth District Congressman Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield, won handily over Republican Jim Feldkamp, 168,411 (62 percent) to 103,432 (38 percent).

In the race for the state House District 17 seat, Republican Fred Girod of Stayton defeated Democrat Dan Thackaberry of Lebanon 14,610 (59 percent) to 9,217 (41 percent) in a race to replace incumbent Jeff Kropf, who has opted to pursue a radio talk show career.

In the House District 11 race, Democratic incumbent Phil Barnhart of Eugene defeated Republican challenger Jim Oakley of Pleasant Hill, 12,745 (61 percent) 7,559 (39 percent).

Sixth District State Sen. Bill Morrisette, D-Springfield, beat Republican challenger Renee Lindsey of the Lebanon area, 26,977 (67 percent) to 13,410 (33 percent).

In the race for the vacant Oregon Supreme Court seat, Appeals Court Justice Virginia Linder beat Eugene lawyer Jack Roberts 490,760 (51 percent) to 460,559 to 460,559 (48 percent).

Court of Appeals Judge Ellen F. Rosenblum ran unopposed.

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Of the nine statewide measures, seven failed. The two that were approved were Measure 39, which prohibits eminent domain for private purposes, and Measure 47. However, Measure 47 which limited or prohibited certain elections contributions and expenditures, the only one approved by voters, appears sure to be struck down in court since its companion, Measure 46, failed. Measure 46 would have amended the state constitution to allow such campaign finance regulations.

Measure 39, which bars public officials from condemning private property if it will be turned over to a private property, passed 780,861 (67 percent) to 356,996 (33 percent).

Measure 40, which would have required that state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges be elected by geographical districts, failed 617,763 (56 percent) to 491,742 (44 percent).

Measure 41, which would have created a state income tax deduction equal to the exemptions deduction on the federal income tax, failed 692,609 (63 percent) to 411,032 (37 percent).

Measure 42, which would have barred the use of credit scores in calculating insurance premiums and rates, failed 746,515 (66 percent) to 400,744 (34 percent).

Measure 43, which would have required a 48-hour notice to a parent of a girl under 18 before she could have an abortion, failed 621,160 (54 percent) to 530,406 (46 percent).

Measure 44, which would have allowed state residents without drug coverage to participate in the state prescription program, failed 883,696 (78 percent) to 255,388 (22 percent).

Measure 45, which would have amended the constitution to set term limits for the state Legislature, failed 665,391 (58.5 percent) to 472,091 (41.5 percent).

Measure 46, the constitutional amendment to allow campaign finance restrictions, failed 654,540 (60 percent) to 439,693 (40 percent).

Measure 47, which would have actually restricted large campaign finance donations, passed 591,752 (53 percent) to 518,480 (46 percent).

Measure 48, which would have amended the state constitution to limit a biennial percentage increase in state spending, failed 781,893 (70 percent) to 323,931 (29 percent).