Southeast Roseburg voters just didn’t get their way on local ballot measures this year.
While countywide measures that would have created a library district and allowed marijuana sales in rural areas went down in flames in the November election, precinct-by-precinct vote counts released this week show Douglas County voters’ opinions varied greatly from place to place.
The residents of Precinct 22, covering Southeast Roseburg, voted strongly in favor of both the library district and rural marijuana sales.
Voters there were 56 to 43 percent in favor of Measure 10-145, which would have formed a library district and levied a tax of 44 cents per $1,000 property value. Countywide, the vote was virtually reversed, with 55 percent voting no, and 44 percent.
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Southeast Roseburg voters also favored both marijuana measures, 10-143 and 10-144, by the widest margins of any precinct in the county. They approved the production and retail sale of medical marijuana in unincorporated parts of the county by 59 to 40 percent, and they also approved recreational marijuana by 57 to 42 percent.
Countywide, voters rejected rural marijuana sales by margins of 52 to 47 percent for medical, and 54 to 45 percent for recreational. Neither measure would have changed the rules inside any city’s limits. Roseburg already allows production and retail sale of marijuana within its borders.
Roseburg City Councilor Steve Kaser serves Southeast Roseburg’s Ward 4, which includes much of the same area as Precinct 22. He said he’s not sure why voters there felt differently than the rest of the county, but he thinks it may have to do with the area’s cross section of voters. He said he used to take walks with his kids through Southeast Roseburg and they went past both the wealthy neighborhood where Kenneth Ford used to live and low-income homes where some of the state’s poorest people live.
“We have some folks that are successful financially and they probably feel an obligation to the community to support the library, and we have a lot of poor people that need to use it,” he said.
Kaser said the yes vote on marijuana may be due to the younger voters who live in the many rentals in Southeast Roseburg.
While Southeast Roseburg residents voted against the grain on local measures, the residents of Myrtle Creek were perfectly in step with the county as a whole. Myrtle Creek voted against both the library district and both marijuana measures, rejecting the library by 59 to 40 percent, medical marijuana sales 51 to 48, and recreational marijuana 52 to 47.
Myrtle Creek Mayor Ken Brouillard thinks the library district went down because many people are just sick of having to pay property taxes.
“There are people who feel like there ought to be other ways to do it,” he said.
Brouillard suggested Roseburg residents might have been more willing to pay for the library due to the effects of compression. Compression kicks in when homeowners’ tax bills hit a state-mandated cap. That cap has already been reached for Roseburg residents, so the tax bills of homeowners in Precinct 22 and other Roseburg precincts wouldn’t have changed even if the library district passed. Other taxing districts, like the Roseburg city government, would have just taken a smaller piece of the pie.
Most Myrtle Creek properties, on the other hand, are not in compression, so owners there would have to pay the full 44 cents per $1,000 if the district passed. That 44 cent figure was way too high in many voters’ opinions, Brouillard said. It would have raised enough to nearly double the county’s current library budget, restoring it to its 2008 level, when libraries were fully staffed and open full-time.
Roseburg is divided into four quadrants, each covered by one precinct. The only one of the city’s four precincts to vote against the library was Precinct 18, covering Northeast Roseburg. It lost there by just two votes, with 846 people in favor and 844 against, a margin of 50 to 49 percent.
The library’s biggest boosters were the residents of Reedsport, who voted 57 to 42 percent in favor of the district. The people most opposed to a library tax were rural residents west and east of Roseburg and in South County. Precinct 13, in rural West County, voted no by the widest margin, with 62 percent voting against the district.
Residents of Drain and Oakland voted in favor of the library district, while residents of Yoncalla, Winston, Canyonville, Glendale and Riddle joined Myrtle Creek in voting against it. Sutherlin and Elkton residents did not vote on the measure because their city councils had voted to opt out of the district.
Recreational marijuana sales weren’t popular overall, but a few other precincts joined Southeast Roseburg in voting yes on Measure 10-143. Precinct 28 in Riddle voted 52 to 47 percent in favor, and residents of Precinct 2 just north of Roseburg and Precinct 3 in Reedsport narrowly approved recreational sales.
Opposition was strongest in Precinct 12, just west of Roseburg, where the vote was 65 to 34 percent against the measure. Voters in Northwest, Northeast and Southwest Roseburg rejected recreational marijuana sales, too, as did Elkton, Winston, Canyonville, Glendale, Drain, Yoncalla, Oakland and Sutherlin.
Medical marijuana sales had more supporters. Riddle, Glendale, Oakland, Reedsport and Yoncalla voters all approved of medical marijuana sales in unincorporated parts of the county.
Roseburg residents split on Measure 10-144, geographically. Southwest, Southeast and Northeast Roseburg residents voted for medical marijuana sales. Northwest Roseburg residents voted no.
Precinct 12 west of Roseburg was the most strongly opposed to medical marijuana sales, voting 63 to 36 percent against. Voters in Elkton, Drain, Sutherlin, Canyonville and Myrtle Creek also voted no. Winston residents split, with Precinct 23 on the west side voting no, and Precinct 24 on the east side voting yes.
Voters’ rejection of Measures 10-143 and 10-144 won’t affect individual cities’ rules about whether to allow marijuana sales within their borders.