Courtney Bangs, a Knappa preschool teacher, and John Toyooka, a manager at Lum’s Auto Center, have unseated Commissioner Kathleen Sullivan and Commissioner Sarah Nebeker on the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners.
Bangs defeated Sullivan 63% to 37% in District 4, which covers eastern Astoria to Westport. Toyooka prevailed over Nebeker 60% to 40% in District 2, which covers Gearhart, Clatsop Plains and parts of Warrenton and Seaside.
“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to serve my community, and I am grateful that we had so many come out and vote,” Bangs said.
Bangs said she has gained more insight through the campaign and appreciates Sullivan’s service.
“It takes a lot of heart and it takes a lot of energy and it takes just a lot of willingness, I think,” she said. “And so I have a lot of respect for her for being able to do that and for being able to just put her life and her heart out there.”
Sullivan conceded Tuesday night after the initial returns were announced.
“I would like to congratulate Courtney Bangs on her hard-fought campaign,” Sullivan said in an email. “I wish her the best of luck when she begins her term in January and I will help with the transition every way I am able.”
Toyooka said Tuesday night that he felt overwhelmed by the support and confidence that voters have in him. With the victory, he said, there’s an “enormous responsibility now to fulfill that commitment.”
Nebeker could not immediately be reached for comment.
The county clerk released results Tuesday night based on ballots accepted through 2 p.m. More results were released on Wednesday afternoon. The only remaining outstanding ballots are challenged ballots and ballots dropped off in other counties.
Voter turnout overall was about 48%.
Bangs and Toyooka were first-time candidates and their campaigns drew similar support.
Toyooka’s campaign focused on overall economic development and support for businesses.
Bangs focused on supporting working families. She also prioritized child care, broadband access and housing as key issues.
Tax levies approved for county fairgrounds, Cannon Beach fire district
Voters approved ballot measures to increase funding for the Clatsop County Fairgrounds and the Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District.
Fifty-six percent of voters favored renewing and increasing a five-year tax levy for the fairgrounds. Fifty-nine percent of voters backed the new tax levy for the fire district.
“I am excited and thankful for the voters to have confidence in the district,” Cannon Beach Fire Chief Marc Reckmann said in a text message. “This is a hard time for everyone so passing the levy during this time is very exciting for the district.”
The fire district asked voters to approve a five-year levy for 35 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value to help sustain operations by hiring a second commanding officer and replacing equipment.
The new tax will bring in between $403,000 to $454,000 a year.
The fire district has a permanent tax rate of 35 cents per $1,000. On top of that, voters have approved a five-year levy to support the fire chief’s position for 19 cents per $1,000 and a five-year bond for a ladder truck at 9 cents per $1,000.
The total tax with the new levy will increase from 63 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to 98 cents, or about $141 a year for a home valued at $400,000.
The Clatsop County Fairgrounds has been financially impacted by the cancellation of the Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival, the Astoria Scandinavian Midsummer Festival and the Clatsop County Fair.
The increase to 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value — up from 5 cents — will continue to fund operations and maintenance while staying even with increasing costs.
Taxpayers will pay about $21 more a year for a home valued at $300,000. The tax rate will generate between $471,000 and $530,000 a year.
“We’re obviously pleased with the results of the levy, and we can certainly use the extra funds to move forward with the fairgrounds and keep up with the rising costs. And partially make up for all the events we’ve been missing now this year from the COVID crisis,” said Mike Autio, the chairman of the Fair Board.
Weber, Boothe-Schmidt will vie for state House seat
Tillamook Mayor Suzanne Weber and Debbie Boothe-Schmidt, a Clatsop County trial assistant, will square off in the November election to replace state Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell in House District 32.
Weber won the Republican primary Tuesday over Vineeta Lower, an online educator in Seaside, 80% to 20%. In the Democratic primary, Boothe-Schmidt defeated George Kiepke, a former Clatsop County commissioner, 71% to 29%.
Mitchell, D-Astoria, has represented the district covering Clatsop and parts of Tillamook and Washington counties since 2018. She announced shortly before the filing deadline in March that she would not run for reelection, moving to Washington state because of her husband’s new job with Pacific Power.
Weber emerged as the preferred candidate of regional industry, while Boothe-Schmidt is primarily backed by labor unions.
“I’m happy with the results,” Weber said Tuesday night. “We’ll start tomorrow, my team and I, on working on our priorities for November and for the race. But right now, I’m going to focus on bringing common sense back to Salem — our common sense, our North Oregon Coast common sense — and protecting our farming, and our forests and our fisheries to the utmost.”
Mitchell was criticized over her support of controversial legislation to cap the carbon emissions of large industrial polluters and make them buy mitigation credits, the proceeds of which would be invested in climate-friendly initiatives.
Weber has made defeating cap and trade her top priority and said Tuesday night that the coronavirus pandemic makes it all the more important.
“We need to fight against cap and trade because of preserving our small businesses and preserving the ability of our small businesses on the coast to receive goods and to keep the prices that we have fair,” she said. “And all of that has to be measured by taking that cap and trade off the playing field.”
Boothe-Schmidt, who is also a board member with the Sunset Empire Transportation District, was hand-picked by state House Democrats to replace Mitchell.
“I’m excited about the win,” Boothe-Schmidt said. “I’m excited to get started on the general election. I’m very grateful to everybody’s help I had during the primary, all the volunteers and my team.”
Boothe-Schmidt has focused her campaign on fighting for better wages, safer working conditions and affordable health care. She has said she believes in climate change, but has been fairly noncommittal about how she would vote on cap-and-trade legislation that has dominated the past two legislative sessions.
“If we can do something to change the climate, we need to do it,” she said Tuesday night. “But we need to make sure we keep the jobs, the living wage jobs we have, or have new jobs in place before the old jobs go away.”
Kiepke conceded Wednesday that he could not win without the endorsement of major labor unions, who he interviewed with during the campaign. But he said his political aspirations are not over.
“All this did was ignite a fire inside me, and I’m going to make a difference,” he said.